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A wave of anti-incumbent sentiment has swept both the US and the UK in recent weeks, as voters in both countries invited long-time "public servants" to go find something else to do. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are among the more high-profile politicians sent packing, but they join lots of lesser-knowns whose de-selection has been equally involuntary. The "throw-the-bums-out" movement has gained broad-based support, is no respecter of political parties, and seems poised to influence the makeup of the political workforce for some time to come.

One wonders, then, what would happen to us manager-types if the security of our jobs were subject to the same kind of referenda that ultimately determines whether or not politicians get a contract renewal.

Some would argue that managers' jobs, are, in fact, subject to a vote, as employees dissatisfied with the leadership talent of their managers vote with their feet all the time. And yes, boards and senior leaders do at times remove non-performers. But two realities prevail. 1) Most companies pay far too little attention to the leadership effectiveness of their managers (in other words, demonstrated leadership competence has too little bearing on the ability to keep one's leadership job), and 2) in this still ugly job market, the returns from such an "election" take longer (a lot longer) to come in than even those of Bush v Gore, 2000, and it has nothing to do with hanging chads.

Wanna take a test? Let's find out what your chances of re-election might be, if your continued employment as a manager in your organization were put to a vote of those who look to you for leadership:

ˇ Do you keep your promises? Yes, or No (sometimes is not an option).
ˇ When was the last time you had an open, productive, in-depth conversation with one of your "constituents", er, team members?
ˇ Whose interests do you defend and whose career do you work hardest to advance? Yours, or your teammates'?
ˇ Does your team trust you... To be unflinchingly honest? To be competent? To advocate for them?
ˇ Who are you listening to? Your team? Or others, who might not have your team's interest at heart?
ˇ Do you demonstrate that you know the difference between misspeaking and lying? There is a difference. Politicians seem to have trouble with this one, including those who can't seem to remember whether or not they actually served in Vietnam. (Talk about a head injury.)
ˇ Who do you spend your time with? Those who think just like you, or folks who might teach you something new?
ˇ Do people know who you are and what you stand for, or do you "switch parties" to take advantage of prevailing winds?
ˇ How accessible are you? Are you polishing the ivory in your tower, or mixing it up with the people you serve?
ˇ What are you doing to grow, avoid complacency, and be a better resource for your team? Or are you done with all that?
ˇ How curious are you? One complaint often leveled against former U.S. President George W. Bush was that he lacked curiosity. Do you even want to know more, or have you got it all figured out?
ˇ When you make mistakes (and you do), do you step out first, fess up, apologize, make it right and then try hard not to go down that road again? Or, do you wait until you're caught, then wag your finger and say you never did what they all know you did?
ˇ Where are you when your folks are really having a hard time, when the wheels are coming off? When the oil is gushing into the gulf? Do you stop what you're doing, and at least show up (before people remark, "It's about time")? Or do you just go on about your business?

Thankfully, the workplace is not a democracy. It never has been. But if, just if, your job were put to a vote, would you be preparing an acceptance speech or a resumé? Get busy. Now.

You could do us a huge favor by completing a short (as in, 6 questions) survey. It's to get your current thinking on a few random issues dealing with hiring, and the workplace in general.

On July 2, we'll take all those who've submitted the survey, and who've identified themselves with an email address, and have a drawing for one copy of a choice of any of our books (including the new one, due out later this summer).

And we'll post the results of the survey in our July issue of Fresh Milk.

Click here to go to the survey.


We speak at lots of association conferences and conventions, most of which are held in the spring and fall. Which means we have greater-than-usual availability in the summer - especially July and August.

So, we can bring the "Contented Cows" message to your organization during the hot summer months for less than our standard fee - and probably less than you think.

Contact Paul Titus, at 813-355-3349, or at to see how we could put together a keynote presentation, or leadership training seminar at your organization, at a fee that your budget can warm up to.

We administer employee satisfaction surveys, and analyze, interpret, and present the results to your leadership team.

Especially in times like these, no organization can afford to operate without the full engagement of everyone on the payroll.

Our turnkey process provides a valuable and affordable way for you to measure your organization's effectiveness in the view of those who fuel your business with their effort, labor, and commitment.

Visit us online, or simply contact us, to learn more about our survey process and how it can help to make your workforce a powerful competitive weapon.

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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