Category Archives: leadership

Leadership is like a…

Dr. Z. believes in the power of metaphor or similie (if you like that sort of thing).

Complete the following sentence:

Leadership is like ….

When you master metaphor you will master leadership. You can voice the metaphor during all occasions, people will be bamboozled by your ambiguity, others will salute you as a sage, and you will be like, cool eh.

In future posts, Dr. Z. will share some powerful leadership metaphors to prime your mind with the miracle of metaphor to take you to the next level of leadership.

For example, leadership is like a penny:

  • it makes cents
  • it often is ignored or undervalued, and
  • it doesn’t get you much anymore.

Any reader with a creative leadership metaphor is encouraged to post it in the comment section of this blog so other leaders can steal it can call it their own.

A penny for your thoughts…



Filed under authentic, leader talk, leadership, leadership humor, leadership institute, Uncategorized

Wait Here, I found a hair in my goal


Goals can drive you hairy or you can even have hairy goals.

Dr. Z. encourages you to have hope rather than goals. Because who ever wants to hear someone say to them, “you haven’t got a hope.” And nobody ever says, “you gotta be hag!”

Perhaps you have heard of a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal!

Collins and Porras defined a BHAG as:

A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” (Collins and Porras, 1996).

Dr. Z recomends just the opposite – a SBEH – Small Bald Easy Hopes. Here are the benefits:

  • Small: When you think of it at the end of small is the word all – small is all you need.
  • Bald: Keep the hair out of the goal and have the fantastic association of soaring with Bald Eagles.
  • Easy: Easy does it, why make work any harder than it is. Also this will give you plenty of time to goof off because the goal will not take much time to achieve.
  • Hope: Why set goals when you can live on hope?

So rather than state : I will be the top widget guy in the world go with hope. Here is a hope statement. I hope I can keep these widgets being made and I hope I have a job tomorrow. And shoot for the finish line – this is Dr. Z’s finish line – so carry on leading, loving, learning and being lazy.

Picture Credit: Play Like The Dickens by

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If you can’t trust Dr. Z., who can you trust?


Dr. Z’s Leadership Institute is under attack! Yes, we have reason to believe the Burgundians are ready to turn us over to the authorities just like they did to Joan of Arc so many years ago. 

The Burgundian menace rivals the drama of the Da Vinci Code when the lead character voiced the top movie action line of all time: I’ve got to get to a library, fast.

People have begun to ask: Is Dr. Z. a real doctor? Where was he educated? Are his credentials authentic?

To nip this in the bud, Dr Z. has included a copy of his diploma in this article. Oh sure, some of you will read it closely and note that it says:

This certifies that Dr. Z is a member in good standing in the WD-40 Fan Club and, as such, is entitled to sprary WD-40 wherever and whenever it may be needed, and to wear blue and yellow on consecutive days of the week.

Let’s not quibble about this minor point. It is just like a diploma and if the doubt continues to spread about Dr. Z’s credentials he may be forced to spray WD-40 right at the Burgundian menace.

Dr. Z will readily admit that this diploma might not have the same prestige as a Ph.D. from Harvard but don’t you just love the color and when you think of it really, what is more useful – a Ph.D. or WD-40? By the way WD stands for Wit Doctor. So there.

But enough about us as the Burgundians are trying to make us forget about the important contributions of the institute to leadership in the year 2007 and beyond.

Dr. Z’s Leadership Point: It is always good to have an enemy when you are a leader because it helps to define you. When things get drab, slow, or indifferent — rally your troops with the need to battle the enemies in the boardroom, the cubicle, by the water cooler, and at the photocopy machine. Stand on your desk and bellow:

We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

Choose your enemies well and please leave the Burgundians to Dr. Z. and Joan of Arc!

Also, notice with all this talk of the enemy you have forgotten the whole issue of whether Dr. Z. is a real doctor and in future articles we can return back to the important purpose of the institute — creating leaders who can think outside of the cubicle!

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Quotation Corner: Don’t Myth Out On Leadership

Welcome back to Dr. Z’s Leadership Institute Quotation Corner.

The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. ~ Warren G. Bennis

If leaders are made what are the ingredients?

  1. 73 hours of work each week: this adds substance to the recipe of leadership. In addition it will make your hourly wage rate a whooping $.61 cents over minimum wage, and based on current calculation may make you eligible for some social assistance.
  2. One Wal*Mart Greeter’s vest: this will make you stand out as a leader and make you human and welcoming to all employees and to be able to show them where the toilet paper is. It may also give you experience in a future job you may hold to supplement your retirement income.
  3. One M.B.A. this will demonstrate a willingness to do many meaningless assignments at university to get your degree and future employers will seize that skill set to have you perform many meaningless activities at work.
  4. One Coach: someone who is willing to stand in your future and say it is impossible.
  5. One BlackBerry: this will keep you in constant contact without you ever having to really engage with the living breathing employee standing right in front of you asking, “can I have six months of paid leave to look after my aging budgie bird?”

Dr. Z.’s Leadership Point to Ponder: Leadership is for the birds so whatever you do don’t budge, budget.



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Thought Leadership: Snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more?


Have you noticed the rise of a new term in leadership. Thought Leadership.

According to Wikipedia (the on-line source to decrease the need to think):

Thought leader is a buzzword or article of jargon used to describe a futurist or person who is recognized among their peer mentors for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights

Translation: If you are a thought leader it means you can’t be bothered really doing anything but you can sit for long hours and think and think some more and then tell others what to do based on your distilled (about half a bottle of gin) insights.

Because thinking is so important to leadership, second only to getting large stock options, Dr Z’s Leadership Institute will be offering the following 6 Cognac and Cogitation Thought Leadership Seminars this fall.

Blinking Thinking. We will read an excerpt of Malcolm Galdwell’s book Blink, contort our eyelids to go up and down like fast moving elevators as we blink out Morse code messages around the seminar room.

Finking Thinking. We will think about leadership ethical dilemmas and figure out how to fink on someone who did something wrong without them being able to identify who finked.

Linking Thinking. We will embark on an Internet search and start following so many links that before we know it we will be sending money to someone who knew our deceased distant relative in Nairobi who died and left us 2 million dollars but our agent in Africa will need us to send them $2633.21 to cover the postage to ship that money to us. Proving that if you can’t think, you can always link

Oinking Thinking. We will learn to ham up our leadership style by thinking outside the pen and realize that oink does not rhyme with think even thought it looks like it should.

Pinking Thinking. Following the insight of Daniel Pink we will develop A Whole New Mind. There used to be a movement that when I am old I shall wear purple and now Pinking Thinking Thought Leaders will wear Pink and use empathy, symphony, story, design, play and meaning to create a hole in the mind that will let out really good ideas which followers will embrace as they storm the nearest hill for no apparent reason.

Winking Thinking. Of course or on the course we all need something completely different, such as Monty Python’s Nudge Nudge wink wink innuendo thinking. If you know what I mean.

If you register early you will receive Dr. Z’s custom designed FOLLOW THE LEADER t-shirt and THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IS LIKE A YO-YO, YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW HOW TO SPIN THINGS coffee mug. 

Photo credit: Fisserman is infallible by


Filed under humor, leadership, leadership institute, Leadership Lessens, thought leadership

The 5 Stages of 360-Degree Leadership Feedback: From Zeus to Zero


Dr. Z. prides himself on his knowledge of the historical development of 360-degree feedback.

At the institute “Doc Z”, as the students call him, conducts a leadership boot-camp on The Historical Development of 360-Degree Feedback from Cro-Magnon Man to Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap.

Here is the executive summary from his soon to be written Harvard Business Review article proposal on The Zeitgeist of 360-Degree Feedback – From Zeus to Zero: Undermining Leadership Through Spineless Anonymous Feedback

– Executive Summary –

Don’t mess with Zeus: Zeus would never have stood for the audacity of some minion or lesser god thinking he should give Zeus feedback. Zeus turned Pandareus to stone, killed Salmaneous with a thunderbolt, and changed Chelone into a tortoise, and that is just a small sample of his wrath. Zeus did not stand for feedback and he made Al Dunlap look more like a guy with nail clippers than a chainsaw. Standing next to Zeus, Al’s moniker of Rambo in Pinstripes would have to be changed to Pollyanna in Pajamas.

The first wheel: The earliest recorded 360-degree feedback was heard shortly after the first wheel was invented. After standing the heavy stone up, the 360 degree shape made it roll over the project leader’s foot crushing his toes. The leader was heard to say something about who’s dumb idea was it to make a wheel and that 360 degree means what goes around comes around and he rolled the wheel back at his direct report. The direct report was never heard from again but it is believed that his descendants were responsible for the invention of the motorized Segway vehicle – a modern day horseless chariot.

Typewriters and temperatures: Shortly after the typewriter was invented 360-degree feedback turned around and began to mean that employees would give leaders feedback because the leader could not recognize the person’s handwriting. At this time 360-degree feedback meant turning up the heat. Let’s say that someone put something negative about your leadership – perhaps they didn’t like your orange argyle socks – in an employee suggestion box. Because this feedback was unsolicited and because the person giving the feedback remained anonymous it was important as a leader to nip this behavior in the bud. Each day as a leader you increased the office thermostat another 5 degrees and announced that until someone came forth and owned up to this feedback the temperature would continue to rise until it got to 360-degrees. You never had to get to 360-degrees to melt out a confession and release the employee who gave the feedback to opportunities elsewhere.

I am a rock. In the humanistic movement of the 1960’s employees would have a group hug with their leader and then sing Paul Simon’s song I am a Rock changing the words to “You are not a rock, you are not an island,” as they lay flowers at the feet of their leader. After this they would spin the leader around and around in tight 360 degree circles and once the leader was dizzy they would literally write feedback on the back of his white shirt such as: groovy, peace and love or you are even nicer to us than Topo Gigo. After this, everyone would go watch Ed Sullivan and the boss after reading the feedback would, kess-a-them goodnight! By the way, Topo Gigo, the Italian mouse,  played the role of Scurry in the Italian translation of the management classic:  Who Moved My Cheese.

360-degree feedback today. Today, there are a plethora of HR firms that specialize in going behind a leader’s back and getting people to say all kinds of things about the leader. They get a “coach” to tell the leader what everyone said and 360-degree refers to the leader finding ways to keep everyone going around and around in circles of nonstop busyness and transformational change for about 18 months. Employees are so overworked and overloaded that they forgot what they said, the coach moves on to real coaching losing a little league state champion game in the 9th inning, and the workplace moves on to the next great idea, for example Project MELT IT – Measuring Emotional Leadership Traits In Turkeys or how to be a Butterball Boss and not get basted!

Dr. Z’s Leadership Point-to-Ponder: When you go 360-degrees you end up where you started and your leadership legacy is – Zero!

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Warning: Once in a Blue Moon



Dr. Z warns all leaders that if you have promised any employees that you would give raises or grant special requests once in a blue moon that it is a blue moon today. Plan to avoid the office, stay on the golf course all day, and if the cell phone rings throw it in the closest bunker.

Picture Credit: Dornoch Golf Bunkers by

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