In this blog post I am going to discuss professionalism and how I believe people should conduct themselves in a professional atmosphere. Although this post will discuss leadership as that is the essence of this blog, what I am going to discuss can be utilized by anyone in the corporate world, and in some cases in your personal life. My motivation for writing this blog post comes after watching a few episodes of the show Mad Men this weekend. The show, which takes place from the 60’s through the 70’s focuses on a fictional character called Don Draper who is an advertising executive in New York City. One of the things I noticed while watching that show is the level of professionalism characters in the office conduct themselves with. All of the employees in his agency except for a few in the art department come to work in a suit and tie, and show up to the office ready to work. In my opinion this is how a company should be run.

Unfortunately, lots of companies today share a different opinion, primarily tech companies. Take Google for example who allows their employees to where almost whatever they want to work and provides ping pong tables, and games for them to play when they need a break. I understand that they are trying to foster a fun work environment, but it is also extremely unprofessional in my opinion. I hope to one day be an employer and not an employee and that is far from the type of business I would operate. I believe your employees should come to work dressed professionally. AND TO WORK! They are not their to play games. My rationale for this is not that I am a prick and I do not want my employees to be happy, but rather that I want people who when they walk through the door at 8 am are their for one purpose….to work. Furthermore the reason I am against instituting a lenient dress code is I am a huge proponent of the idea that if you look good you feel good. I believe someone who comes to work in sweat pants because his “chill progressive corporate environment” allows him to do whatever makes him happy is less likely to be as productive as someone who is dressed in business attire.

Another thing that annoys me beyond reason is people who can not stay off their phones while at work. Oh whats that you need to make sure you are keeping up with all 15 of your social media accounts? NEWS FLASH! No one cares! put your phone away when your in the workplace! I remember I had a friend who graduated college this past December and I looked at his Snapchat story (Me having a snapchat does not make me a hypocrite because I know when and where to use it) during his first day of work, it was about five minutes of him taking videos/pictures while in meetings and seminars. I do not know how his new employer tolerated this, if I had seen him doing that I would have fired him right then and there sending a loud message to the rest of the new hires.

Another thing which bothers me and is something I personally struggle with, is learn how to write in a professional manner. My issues with writing are more related to grammar than anything else, and it is something I am constantly working on improving, but I have seen people in the professional world use text language in email correspondence. Your company email is no place to be dropping LOL’s and LMK.

This post was more a rant than anything else, as a millennial I must say my generation pisses me off when it comes to our lack of professionalism. Being the tech generation does not give us the right to abandon decency, and its not just in the professional world. Its the same thing in our personal lives. I noticed while watching Mad Men, how much better peoples manners were back in the 60’s and 70’s. Every time their is a dinner scene and a woman gets up you see all the men also stand up, or the fact that a man never leaves the elevator before a woman. I mean the amount of people I know in my generation who can not even hold a fork correctly is mind boggling. If you ever plan on being successful in the business world whether it be as a leader or a follower you need to have a basic understanding of etiquette and manners.

With all that being said I have attached some articles below that I think people, primarily of the millennial generation might find very enlightening.


Building Credibility

Unlike the majority of my posts before this which were based on leadership lessons I have learned through observation, this post will be on a subject I have been wanting to learn about for awhile, credibility. As a leader it is important that your followers find you credible, because if they do not you will have a hard time getting them to follow you. I know for myself this is something I have always struggled with as a leader. I decided to do some research into the subject, and here are 5 things I believe will help you in establishing yourself as a credible leader.

1. Be Knowledgeable

One thing I have realized is that people will not follow someone who does not know what they are talking about. Whatever the subject is that your are leading people in make sure you know as much about it if not more than anyone else on your team. If you do not know about the subject go out and learn about it. Doing so will make a huge difference in the long run as people will realize that you are willing to put forth the effort as well as respect you for the knowledge you know.

2. First In, Last Out

As the leader, you should always be the first person in the office and the last one to leave. As you can probably gather from some of my previous posts I am a huge proponent of leading by example. Being the first person to arrive and last to leave is a great way of leading by example. It shows how hard you are willing to work for your group, and encourages the rest of your team to do the same.

3. Show Your Appreciation

One of the first leadership lessons I learned when I came to college was that after a certain point people stop wanting to be rewarded with money and wish to be rewarded with praise. Taking the time to stop and thank your employees for their hard work or compliment them on a project they completed can go a long way.

4. Stick Up for Your Employees

This is a lesson I got from Its Your Ship: Leadership Lessons From the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. In the corporate hierarchy that exists today it is not uncommon for a group of people or a department to receive cuts that might impact the people beneath you. If you are ever confronted with a situation like this where maybe your department head cuts funding to your group, it is important that you do what you can to fight for your people and to let them know you have their backs. Even if you can not change the ruling simply letting them know that you care and are looking out for their best interests can go a long way.

5. Trust Your Team

This last one might be the most important one. If you can not show your team that you trust them, than they will have a hard time trusting you. As important as this is it might also be one of the easiest things to do. The best way to show you trust those on your team is to simply not micromanage. Micromanaging a team can be incredibly annoying to those being micromanaged and can cause them to resent you. Taking a more hands off approach shows that you trust them enough to complete the task on their own.

***Below are some links to articles i referenced to write this post***


Back to Basics

While writing these posts I have been trying to think in depth about certain leadership issues that are not usually thought of or often discussed, and while I have brought up some issues that are very important it is still important to remember the basics. For me the number one rule of any leader, and one of the most often discussed leadership subjects is to lead by example. In my opinion this is the cardinal rule of leadership and can make or break any leaders tenure. If you are not willing to do what you ask of your subordinates than they will not be willing to do it either.

This is a leadership theme that is at the heart of almost any leadership discussion, and the effects of choosing whether or not to follow it are evident almost everywhere. The most recent example I can think of once again is a story from my fraternity. This past semester before we were told that we were being suspended we had been put on probation for nearly two years resulting from incidents the previous semester. Between the time of our probation and our suspension are president and alumni were trying their hardest to keep morale in the house high so that people would be willing to live in the following year. A lot of the older guys including myself were skeptical as to whether or not we would have a house and went ahead and signed contracts to live out. A lot of the younger guys in the house were unsure whether or not to live out and were on the fence. For a period of time they followed our president who kept telling them that it is their responsibility to live in as the younger guys.

One day without anyone knowing however our president went ahead and signed a contract to live out with some other people. When news of this came back to the chapter, everyone jumped ship. The younger guys were doing everything in their power to get out of their contracts so that they could live out. This eventually led our housing corp to decide that the house would close the following year regardless of the Universities decision, since it would be to far under capacity to keep open. In hindsight none of this matters since we ultimately got shut down by the university, but had we not our presidents poor leadership and failure to lead by example would have resulted in the house shutting down. The second everyone else found out he was living out they all decided they would also. This was devastating to morale in the house, as he was supposed to be someone we all looked up to, and to use a cheesy metaphor, the last to go down with the ship. Instead he jumped ship as soon as things became unclear causing the rest of the crew to do the same.

This is just one example of the disastrous implications that come from a leader who does not lead by example. It is imperative that if you plan on leading people in any organization whether it be the military, corporate world, or a fraternity, you be ready to do anything you ask of them.

***Below are a couple of articles about leaders who chose to lead by example and the positive impact it had***


Dole Out Punishment Equally

I have spent the majority of my day today watching Game of Thrones since half of the newest season leaked online last night. While watching the show I made some observations about leadership that I thought were very important and worth sharing. Their was one leadership lesson that I though was particularly important and I am going to share with you in this post. That lesson is the idea that as a leader you should always discipline your subordinates equally.

This lesson came from an episode of Game of Thrones where  one of the rulers Daenerys Targaryen was faced with a harsh decision of how to punish one of her followers after he blatantly disobeyed her. He was guilty of killing a prisoner awaiting trial. The prisoner that he killed was guilty of trying to overthrow the queen. Although, the queen knew he was guilty she decided to let him go to trial. This did not sit well with one of the people on her council who thought he should be executed immediately, and took it upon himself to kill the prisoner without the queens permission. He for sure thought that his close status to the queen would protect him, but unfortunately it did not.

For the queen this was not an easily made decision, she knew the prisoner that this man had killed was most likely going to die as a result of his trial. Even though, she still believed the man deserved a trial. Furthermore, if she was to let the man who killed the prisoner go, it would show that she was siding with the poorer people of her society. The prisoner represented the wealthy elite who were not happy with some of the decisions the queen had made, while the man who killed him represented the former slaves. If she were to have pardoned him for his crime it would have just upset the wealthy elite even more and showed favoritism toward the former slaves. She needed to make it clear that she did not favor one side over the other and that in order for a society to function their needed to be a clear form of justice. In order to make this point she had the man who murdered the prisoner executed. This did not sit well with the poor as you might have expected but it sent a very clear and loud message that she was not picking sides, and that everyone in her society would be punished equally under her laws.

It was not an easily made decision for her, but the decisions a leader has to make rarely are. For people in the business and professional world the same rules apply. Your subordinates and followers need to know that punishments will be the same regardless of who committed the act. Playing favoritism with punishments, and also rewards, can send a very negative message that might cause other people in your organization to have animosity towards you.


Under Promise and Over Deliver

Although the contents of this blog posts is important for people in a leadership position, it is also important to people who are not. The idea of under promising and then over delivering is something that can be used by people in any situation and will almost always help further your career advancement.

Why is this concept so important? Well, all to often people come up with grandiose plans that they tell to everyone involved then fail to accomplish said plans. This results in making them look unqualified and incompetent. A recent example of this is my fraternities special events chairman. For months he has been telling us how he is going to plan an extravagant spring formal for us that will be one for the record books. He has told us about an array of different options, from Chicago, to Nashville, even a trip to Canada. Time after time he continually built our expectations up only to have them shattered, when he failed to get a single plan finalized. Not only have people in the house lost a lot of respect for him, but some are incredibly angry towards him for failing to get anything done.

Had he followed the simple principle of under promising and over delivering, he might not have found himself in such a harsh position. Sure, people may have still been upset that nothing got finalized, but they would have been prepared for it. The same applies to the business world as a leader it is important to keep peoples expectations low. This accomplishes two things, one you are less likely to disappoint people when things do not turn out as planned, and two when things go exceedingly well people are even more taken back by it since they expected so little to begin with.

This is a valuable tool to implement in the business world whether you are a leader or follower and although it is appropriate in almost any situation their is one scenario in which you should not use it. That is interviewing. When you’re interviewing for jobs your should always over promise. Build yourself up as much as possible and talk about how much you have accomplished and will be able to accomplish. Just be careful though, because whatever you say in an interview you better be able to back up in the job. If you talk about how much you can do, and get the job under that premise, then underperform you will find yourself in a situation similar to my friend.


Do your followers share your vision?

One of the most important things for any leader is to make sure you and your team share the same vision. This is something I have struggled with  myself this semester. For my entrepreneurship class I volunteered to be a group leader at the beginning of the semester. As a group leader I was tasked with assembling a group of people who would be interested in pursuing a business idea I pitched to them. My professor gave us the privilege of interviewing everyone in the class to determine who would be best suited to be in our group. Afterwards, myself and the other group leaders did a draft to select who we wanted in our groups.

At the time I thought I had selected a solid group, everyone I interviewed seemed legitimately interested in my business idea and each person brought their own unique set of skills to the group. It was not until about halfway through the semester when we started working on some of the finer details of the business plan that I realized certain group members did not share the same vision I did. As group leader I realized this was my fault, I had obviously not done a good enough idea conveying my vision for the company.

My business idea was to create a subscription based email newsletter that summarized sports news relevant to the area in which you worked. It was going to differ from other sports news sources in that it would be tailored towards people who did not know much about sports, and did not care to spend the time learning it but rather needed to be informed in order to better relate to coworkers and other people in the business world. Although we intend to sell sports news our true product would be rich conversation currency. The disagreement within our group came when we started talking about what all we were going to report on. I believed we would be better of sticking strictly to sports at first, whereas other people in the group thought that we should report on anything that might be relevant in the business world.

The group which consisted of seven people was pretty evenly split between the two business ideas. Three of the seven members were dead set on reporting on all new sources, while the remaining four of us wanted to pursue my original business idea. I realized that this disagreement was holding us back as we were spending most of our time arguing and not getting any work done. In order to remedy the situation I needed to unite us around a common goal. Simply saying we were going to do it my way was not enough. In order to do so I used my knowledge of entrepreneurship to convince my team the original idea was more feasible. I explained to them how when you start a business you want to have a hyper focus on  a particular customer segment. In our case that customer segment was people in the business world who may not care for sports but feel they have to understand them in order to relate to their coworkers. By targeting a narrow customer segment we would be better able to find early adopters than if we were reported on multiple types of news. I also explained how reporting on one type of news would be cheaper and more economical.

After explaining these things to my group they began to see my point of view, and had more faith in my original idea. I went on to explain how their idea of reporting on multiple types of news would be a great idea in the future but simply not feasible for a startup. By breaking down my idea and rationale I was able to convince them of my vision. Furthermore, by giving credit to their idea they were less disappointed about abandoning it. Once we found a common vision that we all shared things began to run a lot more smoothly. We stopped arguing as much, and everyone did their share of work willfully.


True Leaders Initiate Change

A truly great leader is one who dares to change the status quo, like Mitch Daniels is at Purdue University where he has frozen tuition rates, cut costs and worked out a deal with Amazon to save students money on textbooks and other materials. For to long colleges and universities in the United States have been increasing tuition rates at a rate that far exceeded inflation. This has made college unaffordable to many people in America, and those who do find a way to finance their college education find themselves in huge amounts of debt by the time they graduate. Purdue’s President Mitch Daniels hopes to change this and set a new precedent in higher education that focuses on affordability.

This has garnered him high esteem not just in the Purdue community, where he is loved by students for what he has done to make college more affordable, but also across the country. Fortune Magazine listed him as one of the 50 most influential leaders in the world. When he took on the role of university president his main focus was making college more affordable to students at Purdue. Since then though he has tackled other education issues, most recently he spoke at a hearing on Capital Hill about potential initiatives that could be enacted to make college more affordable.

For far to long the rate at which tuition has increased has been absurd. Our countries solution to this issue was not to make college more affordable, but to make loans more accessible. This has worked to a certain degree, but created another problem, which is the absurd amount of money students are forced to pay in loans after college. It has made some experts question whether or not a college education is even worth the cost now a days.

Mitch Daniels was the first person in the academic community to stand up and say the system was broken. Furthermore he was the first person to take initiative and try to fix it. For doing so he deserves praise, and he has received it. Students at Purdue University admire him for the bold steps he has taken in making their college education more affordable, high school students more than ever want to come to Purdue, and politicians are so fond of what he is doing they are trying to get him to run for President.

How did he accomplish all this and gain such admiration? By changing the status quo, instead of just coming into Purdue and declaring a tuition increase every time the University wants to put up a new building, he found other alternatives to finance new projects. Hopefully more high ranking university officials will follow the lead of Mitch Daniels and take steps to lower tuition costs for their students