Career 101: It’s Time for a Sound Check

Leadership can be hard whether as a parent, spiritual leader, leader of a social or athletic organization, as a political leaders and certainly leaders in the world of work. I’ve had the opportunity to lead in a few of those areas above and let me tell you, without the proper support, leadership can make the toughest of leaders want to throw in the towel, or either use it to figuratively strangle someone (Did I just say that?)

Probably triggered by the political climate and praying that our President-elect supernaturally surrounds himself with a variety of wisdom from varying beneficial points of view, while attempting to sleep recently my brain decided to wake me up to the most perfectly unusual thought. Leaders in the workplace need to do routine sound checks.

As leaders we have to be careful of who and what is in our ear. What sounds are shaping our leadership and ultimately our legacy? Is it the voice of the “yes man”, “cynical and scary Cindy”, the “do-boy”, the “negative Nelly”, and the “just like you crew”? Or are the voices, concerns, plights and passions of all able to be heard, embraced, addressed, corrected and considered? The only way that is truly done is to strategically be surrounded by those who represent the core of all facets of a company.  A good leader has a heart and ears truly open to hear, even those tough things one might not want to and is bold enough to act upon it knowing a few things:

  • People don’t care about things they don’t care about. If they are still on your team and desiring to make their feelings known they are still there, which means they still care.
  • Sometimes the blinders of external success dim the troubles of the internal struggles. We have to be in the know of what’s going on in the house before we take our mission to the streets.
  • An organization is only as strong as the organism…the people who make it run.
  • Good communication solves everything.
  • Some of the best of employees have left because of matters which could have been addressed before the exit interview. No one asked.


As a manager of 40 people, I’ve learned that, through my best of intentions I don’t always get it right. I don’t always know what’s right. I don’t always see what’s going on. I am not always there or aware, but if I invite an atmosphere of an open door with consistent requests to hear the “truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth” no matter how it stings my ego our program grows stronger, my people grow stronger and so do I. I’d be lying if I said that everything I hear from my peeps about how I run our program is grits and gravy. It’s not. But I owe it to those to whom I’m assigned to make sure their voices are heard. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.


Like a skilled musical artist awaiting the big stage and bright lights a sound check is always in order. It does no good for him/her to only check the vocals, and not every single instrument, the DJ, the microphone, the sound system, the sound effects and everything else. They all matter. As leaders we have to have our sound squad tight. Yes, there must be someone to lay down the law, someone to stand firm on rules, someone to focus on the future and others in the more traditional roles. However, good leaders also welcome the compassioned team player, the purposed unifier, the straight-talker-in-the-know of the real deal with the people, the fun folks and the silent until necessary observer. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.



Don’t Sweat Their Technique

A friend and I were sharing our concern about another friend who was visibly affected by the actions she deemed unfair from others. It was taking our friend away from her normal way of being, thinking, and even looking. Whether credence was given or not toward the unfairness, what was showing more was her attitude taking a painful turn for the worse in a place and position she could not afford it to. At this point, regardless of whether her concerns were true, her attitude was what was speaking most loudly and clearly. Sadly, she’s not alone.


It’s often hard to take the high road with a happy face when one feels they’ve been treated unfairly, especially when they’re called to carry on “business as usual” in the midst of internal or external madness. I’ve been there, done that, had to smile in front of hundreds while hurting, work through tears which would have flooded a small village (or at least it seemed) and will one day write a book about it. However, all the adversary (the devil) or your adversities would like is for you to get huffed up, fired up, hot as fish grease, defeated, isolated, or disengaged and let that be your lasting impression, especially if your time and presence had truly made an impact. You see, it doesn’t matter if what they did is/was wrong if what you do or don’t do supersedes all of that. Keeping calm in the midst of chaos is a craft which can take you far and keep you sane.


There was a nifty little song by one of the greatest duos ever known to man (or at least this woman). The song was “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Eric B and Rakim. Over a catchy and infections 80’s hook they rapped lyrics that brought out the best “ohhhh, snap” or “ohhhhhhhhwwwweeeeee” a vinyl record or cassette tape could buy. While their lyrics didn’t exactly sum up the sum total of this post the title surely was inspiration. I’d like to take a cue from this dynamic duo and encourage you by saying “don’t sweat their technique”, meaning don’t let them catch you slipping or off your game having you appear to be the unstable, cra-cra, overly-sensitive or unprofessional one. You better shake it off. Put your best foot and face forward. Deal with them the right way and maintain your character. Regardless of what others do or don’t do, how they act, the energy they carry and the attitude that joins it, don’t let it internally or externally affect you to the point of robbing you of being who you are, how you are and who you were meant to be. There’s a blessing, even in your troubles, which can come more quickly as you gracefully endure whomever or whatever you’re facing and get to wherever it was sent to take you, and do it sweatless. Don’t sweat their technique!