Do You Know What They're Whispering?


A fascinating issue popped up on my “Winner’s Circle” radio show on Saturday.  It prompts me to ask you “bosses” out there:  Do you know what they’re whispering about you?  Yes, they are whispering!  On the show, my guest, Kathi Elster talked about a boss who admitted she was aware of the whispers:  “People sometimes say I’m ‘intimidating.'”  Kathi knew those were the audible whispers, but what they were saying when she wasn’t around was, “she’s a bully.”

What they’re whispering matters, because the things they’re saying are not just talk.  For instance, how do you act when the authority is a bully?  Most of us shut down, we quit taking risks, we don’t share important but bad news, we may even fudge the truth to stay out of trouble.  So, being a bully or a “commanding presence,” or “a leader who demands accountability” may come at a high cost that we may never see, if we don’t begin to hear what they’re whispering.

On the other hand, if you know what they’re whispering or saying (or screaming when they know you’re out of town), you have the ability to learn and to change.  People have certainly whispered about me: “every day the guy’s got a new project that he thinks is so totally cool we should all drop everything else (like yesterday’s really cool ideas) and get it done.”  The first step for me was awareness – Houston we have a problem!  That meant and means giving my co-workers permission to say, “I think you’re doing it again.”  Two of the most helpful words we have around our shop are “scope creep,” and everyone has explicit permission to utter them.

Do you know your Achilles heel(s). what they’re whispering about you?  Because you can bet your team does.  And the shortcomings of the manager get multiplied through the system.  If you have the courage and the love for truth, you might ask your team (or your kids) to tell you – or tell you again:  “What thing or things am I doing that are getting in the way of your doing a great job?”  And, if anyone has ever whispered – as they did about the boss above – that they were “intimidated” by you – no matter how crazy you think that is – then you might invite them to anonymously write down your questionable behaviors.

You have to hear what they’re whispering and face the brutal facts if you’re going to

Lead with your best self!