Monday, February 21, 2022

Can You Really Manage Your Boss?

Over the last 13 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, and customer experience experts. One of these experts is Mary Abbajay from Washington, D.C. We recently discussed managers, leadership, and the overall employee experience, and highlights follow below Mary’s bio.

Mary Abbajay, author of the award-winning, best-selling book, Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss, is the president of Careerstone Group, LLC, a full service organizational and leadership development consultancy that delivers leading-edge talent and organizational development solutions to business and government. Mary is a frequent expert contributor for television, radio, and print publications where she provides practical leadership and career advice. In addition to her role as a contributor, her work and advice have appeared in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. Mary is the cohost of the Cubicle Confidential podcast ( where she provides weekly career and leadership advice. Connect and follow on Twitter and Instagram @maryabbajay, on LinkedIn at,and on her websites at and

Question: You wrote an article for Harvard Business Review about gaslighting. Can you explain what this is and why it is so harmful in the workplace, as well as what employees can do if they experience this type of behavior from their leaders?
MARY ABBAJAY: Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. They lie, manipulate, demean, and withhold information--and then point the finger at you--making you think that you are the problem. In short, they distort reality and truth and insist that you are the one who is out of touch with reality. This toxic behavior undermines one’s self-esteem, confidence, and sense of reality. Gaslighting is particularly nefarious as this behavior is often subtle and flies under the radar. Gaslighters are adept at operating in subtle, sneaky, and hard-to-prove ways. It’s often your word against theirs, which makes going to other leaders or HR difficult.

If you feel you are being gaslit, here are seven strategies to consider:

(1) Create a record. Take time to document your interactions and conversations. Try to make sure others are present when verbally conversing with the gaslighter--and follow up any action items in an email. Copy others on emails when appropriate. Having documentation will make it harder for your boss to question your sanity and will help you make your case should you decide to escalate the situation to other leaders or HR.

(2) Limit direct contact. Do what you can to minimize interacting with this person. The more you engage, the more opportunity they have to manipulate you. Actively build relationships with other leaders and senior colleagues in your organization who can champion your skills.

(3) Surround yourself with support. Protecting your mental and psychological health is critical. Build a strong support network of friends and colleagues who uplift and encourage you. Consider connecting
with a coach, therapist, or other trained professional to help you keep you strong.

(4) Confront with caution. Gaslighters are likely to use any confrontation to further punish you. Being
backed into a corner by having their lies exposed may cause them to lash out. Tread lightly when
confronting their misdeeds.

(5) Seek new opportunities within your organization. Actively explore other positions in your company. Meet with colleagues and managers in other departments where your skills may translate and make a case for your transition.

(6) Escalate with extreme caution. As master manipulators, gaslighters are adept at covering their tracks so be clear about to whom and how you will escalate. Research your organization’s reputation in
addressing similar employee concerns. Organizations with poor records of supporting employee
concerns don’t bode well and in fact may leave you more exposed to further abuse. If you do escalate,
have your facts in order and be clear about what you want to achieve from that conversation and who is
the best person to help you.

(7) Get out. Sometimes quitting is the best option. Find a new job and company. Your gaslighting boss is not going to change. Nobody should have to work for a toxic boss.

TWEET THIS: Actively build relationships with other leaders and senior colleagues in your org who can champion your skills. –@MaryAbbajay #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Question: On your website, you offer a "Managing Up Survey: Impact of Your Boss in the Workplace." If someone takes the survey, what do you hope is the key take-away?
MARY ABBAJAY: One of the first things one must do to manage up is to take a clear-eyed view of the situation. Take time to really understand who your boss is and who you are. There is a big difference between a difficult boss and a toxic boss. Difficult bosses are stressful, but toxic bosses are dangerous. Learning how to navigate a difficult boss can be a career booster, suffering under the reign of a toxic boss can be a career killer.

Question: Years ago, I had a boss who told me that I needed to lower my expectations regarding the quality of work by employees who reported to me. How would you have handled this situation?
MARY ABBAJAY: This type of feedback is a great opportunity to self-examine one’s leadership style. I would have looked at my management style, my expectations of my team, and their readiness to deliver on those expectations. Was I being too hard on them? Was I asking for a level of quality that was in alignment with organizational priorities? Have I clearly articulated the level of quality needed? And finally, were they ready, willing, and able to meet my expectations? If not, then I would have asked myself, “How could I help develop them?” I would have looked for ways that I could support, teach, and coach my team into higher performance.  

Question: What three leadership books do you recommend all leaders read, and why?

MARY ABBAJAY: Here are my three:

One of my favorite books is The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. It’s an oldie but goodie and explores the connection between creativity and leadership.

I’m also a big fan of Beverly Kaye’s Love ‘em or Lose ‘em. She gives practical tools and techniques to get the best out of people in any situation.

And finally, I’m going to recommend my book, Managing Up: How to Succeed with Any Type of Boss because leaders need to heighten their awareness about what kind of boss they are and the impact of their leadership style on their teams. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many leaders and managers have written me to say this book has helped them more accurately articulate their preferences, priorities, and pet peeves with their teams to build more productive and positive relationships.

Question: What leaders inspire you, from business or history, and why?
MARY ABBAJAY: Currently, I really inspired by 31 million small business leaders who have courageously met the challenges of the Covid pandemic. Small business leaders don’t get enough attention in the world even though the majority of Americans work for a small business. It’s time that we start to acknowledge and appreciate their contribution to our economies and communities. Nobody works harder – with fewer resources than a small business owner and leader.

Question: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does this quote mean to you?
MARY ABBAJAY: This quote is a great reminder that one of the most important things a leader does is inspire, grow, and serve others. Leaders lead people, not things.

TWEET THIS: The most important things a leader does is inspire, grow, and serve others. –@MaryAbbajay #Leadership #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Mary for sharing her inspiring leadership insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

To read more insights by Mary about her excellent book, check out this interview:

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Fun Stories Surrounding Super Bowl 56

While the touchdowns and field goals may have been the most talked about aspect of this year’s championship game, and the ads generated lots of buzz before, during, and after the game, there were other stories surrounding Super Bowl 56 that warranted attention.

As a Los Angeles native, I heard about them. Since you may not have heard or read about them, I’d like to share, especially since many have a brand marketing stance.

The two zoos made a wager that the zoo of the losing team would change its logo for one day only, the Monday following the game. All placements of the logo in social media would change. The LA Zoo would change its logo’s mascots to feature a Bengal tiger, and the Cincinnati Zoo would change its logo to feature a ram.


Following a tradition of art museums wagering artwork loans since 2010, these two museums bet a loan of a painting from their collections. The winner would get to display the two artworks together during 2022. The Huntington’s piece is “Irish Girl” (1927) with warm colors, as if to honor the Bengals, while the Cincinnati’s piece is “Patience Serious” (1915) a portrait of a young girl wearing Rams blue. Both were painted by American artist Robert Henri.

The two eateries made a friendly wager on the Super Bowl. The loser would donate $500 to the other city’s charity of choice. Pink’s would donate to the Freestore Foodbank, and Skyline would donate to the Los Angeles Rams Foundation, an outreach program that targets youth.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles put a batch of baked treats from the LA-based bakery Porto’s on his hometown Rams, while Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati wagered a case of Cincinnati-based Graeter’s ice cream on the Bengals. Both also used the game as an opportunity to raise funds for each archdiocese’s Catholic Education Foundation, with the winning team’s diocese getting 60 percent of the money raised and the other diocese getting 40 percent. They also urged donors to visit or follow #BishopsBigGame on social media to donate to Catholic school students in the name of their favorite team. Both Archbishops donated $1,000 to the joint fund.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine also made a friendly wager on the game. Governor DeWine bet an assortment of Cincinnati food products including: Steaks and seasoning from Jeff Ruby’s, ribs from Montgomery Inn, Goetta and bratwurst from Queen City Sausage, potato chips from Grippo’s, and chocolates from Maverick Chocolate Company. In addition, First Lady of Ohio Fran DeWine would throw in her Bengals Buckeye Brownies recipe if the Bengals lost. Governor Newsom wagered “some of California’s world class agricultural offerings,” including Napa Valley wine, cheese, and nuts.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval made a friendly wager for what would happen following the end of the Super Bowl. If the Rams won, Cincinnati Mayor Pureval would wear a Rams jersey at an upcoming public appearance, and if the Bengals won, LA Mayor Garcetti would wear a Bengals jersey at a public appearance. The mayors also agreed that the winning mayor would donate and encourage others to donate to the other team’s Children’s Hospital.

Mayor Garcetti said, “Angelenos fight hard, and we win graciously. We can’t wait to host Super Bowl LVI, and when the Rams win, LA will show our friends in Cincinnati how much heart we have by chipping in together to help the kids at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.”

California Senator Alex Padilla and Ohio Senator Rob Portman also made a wager on the game. If the Rams won, Portman would send Padilla some “Hu-Dey” beer from Cincinnati-based Hudepohl Brewing Company and food from Ohio-based eatery Izzy’s. If the Bengals won, Padilla would give Portman a “Whose House” blonde ale from Golden Road Brewing Company and a pastrami sandwich from Los Angeles eatery Langer’s Deli.

Turns out that the Rams did win the big game! And the famous 99-year-old Hollywood sign was turned into “RAMS HOUSE” for 48-hours to celebrate.

What other fun stories did you hear surrounding Super Bowl 56? And what unique stories and wagers will we hear about next year at Super Bowl 57 in Arizona?

IMAGE CREDIT: The Cincinnati Zoo.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Some Monday Morning Quarterbacking about the Ads from Super Bowl 56

Super Bowl 56 "the game" was definitely more exciting than in years past, but the ads were mostly so-so. While the game was played in a new stadium that cost $5.5 billion near Los Angeles, the ads cost nearly $7 million for thirty incredibly short seconds. What do you remember from Super Bowl Sunday?

There was no ad similar to Apple’s 1984 ad. There was no ad that was as memorable as Budweiser’s post-9/11 ad from 2002 with the kneeling Clydesdales. There were no animated Coca Cola polar bears, and there was no Tweet memorable enough to rival Oreo’s from 2013 - although Oreo did share some clever Tweets during the game. And one thing to note for this year's batch of ads: no brand mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic, which was a complete reversal from last year's ads.

However, this quote from Landor Associates IS timeless: "Here are three tips to help you, your dad, or even your football-crazed grandma decide which brands scored a touchdown with their commercials: Is the ad on-brand? Will you remember the brand tomorrow? And, does the ad speak to the times?”

Here were the ads that stood out to me from this year’s group:

AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO: The ad featuring a tailgate party at Rome’s Coliseum was funny, clever, and memorable. Since tailgate parties were happening in real time, it was fun to see what they might have looked like a long time ago.

FLAMIN’ HOT DORITOS: This ad featured a group of animals in an unlikely situation: they liked flamin’ hot Dorito chips, which, while hard to believe, created a laugh or two.

BUDWEISER: The return of the Clydesdale horses was welcomed – especially since they were absent last year, and although, a horse got injured, he did get well. In addition, the friendship between a dog and a horse was touching. These ads are always memorable.

ROCKET MORTGAGE: As a fan of the Barbie doll by Mattel as a child, I also had Barbie’s Dream House. So, when Barbie wanted to purchase her Dream House with help from Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Homes, I appreciated the brand storytelling.

LAW & ORDER: NBC ran several ads to promote the return of its classic show, Law & Order, the original – which, as a long-time fan, I eagerly look forward to seeing again, thus, a thumbs-up from me.

A common theme was electric vehicles - and there were numerous ads: Chevy Silverado electric truck, BMW electric vehicle, Kia EV6, and GM electric vehicles. 

Timothy Calkins, Marketing Professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, tweeted, “A question for all the auto marketing executives: Is saying you have an electric vehicle enough? Seems like Tesla is the perceived leader with the best electric cars. How do you win the competitive battle?”

I responded to Calkins' tweet: "It would have been better for the ads to show how an electric vehicle could improve life."

And lastly, a few words from Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing: "The Super Bowl is a phenomenon unsurpassed in the world. It is one of the few national social events, which is also why social media traffic during the game is so high...What is also remarkable is that advertising is not viewed as something to skip but is seen by 77 percent of viewers as part of the entertainment, and therefore, more watched and engaged with than any other television advertising during the year."

Are you counting the days to Super Bowl 57, scheduled for February 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona? I sure am!

Image credits: NFL, Avocados from Mexico, Doritos, Budweiser, Rocket Mortgage, and Law & Order/NBC.

To read any of my previous Super Bowl ad recap posts, search this Blog using the term “super” to access all the complete links.

To watch all the ads from Super Bowl 56, here’s the link:

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Which Brand’s Super Bowl Ad Are You Eager to Watch?

What brand do you want to see advertise during Sunday’s Super Bowl game? There are always ads for cars, movies, and food as well as some surprises.

While the ad design team for every brand hopes to make a touchdown with its ad, the reality is that few become Super Bowl legends, and not just for 24 hours, but for years and years.

Here is my list of memorable Super Bowl ads:

  • Apple: “1984” (introduction of the Macintosh computer) (Jan. 22, 1984)
  • Volkswagen (VW): “The Force” (young kid dressed as Darth Vader) (Feb. 4, 2011)
  • Budweiser: Clydesdales - horse kneeling in memory of the lives lost on 9/11 (Feb. 3, 2002)
  • Coca-Cola: Mean Joe Greene and his young friend (1980)
  • Budweiser: talking frogs BUD-WEIS-ER (Jan. 29, 1995)
  • Coca-Cola: polar bear family and friends (starting in 1993 and several more followed)
  • Chrysler: “Imported from Detroit” (Feb. 6, 2011)
  • Subaru: dog family known as The Barkleys (several)
  • Snickers: featuring Betty White (Feb. 7, 2010)
  • CBS Tonight Show: featuring Dave Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, and Jay Leno (Feb. 7, 2010)
  • GoDaddy: featuring Danica Patrick (several)

Is the purpose of the ads to generate buzz during the game and/or the morning after? Is the purpose to create brand awareness? Is the purpose to build consumer trust? Is the purpose to show that the brand is relevant to the times? Or is the purpose to sell more products or services?

Probably all five. Of course, that may be a tall order for five, six, or seven million dollars!

See you at the virtual water cooler - also known as Twitter - during the game to critique the ads in real time - and then back here on this blog the morning after for a full ad recap of the hits and misses.

Image Credit: Clearvoice.

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Interdependence of Advertising, Storytelling, and Branding

Over the last 13 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, and customer experience experts. One of these experts is Angela Jeffrey from Dallas, Texas. Angela read my post following last year’s Super Bowl and contacted me. We recently discussed marketing and advertising, and highlights follow below Angela’s bio.

Angela Jeffrey is an internationally known speaker and national award-winning veteran of public relations, advertising, and marketing. She has been a teacher and leader in the use of metrics to measure communications impact for over 20 years, especially at the intersection of PR and Advertising. She is responsible for all marketing efforts at Advertising Benchmark Index (ABX) and for projects that involve PR or social media measurement. Prior to joining ABX, Angela was Strategy Director at Salience Insight (now CARMA), a global provider of PR effectiveness measurement. Previously, she was a Vice President at Surveillance Data, Inc., an international analytics powerhouse specializing in predictive modeling. She continued as a key leader upon the sale of her division to VMS and helped develop Vantage with Gary Getto (President of ABX), the first platform to measure the combined impact of PR and Advertising. Connect and follow on LinkedIn at, and visit ABX’s website at and ABX’s Blog at

QUESTION: In February 2021, I wrote a Blog post about the Super Bowl ads and referenced one of your company’s posts (that you wrote) from 2020. (Links are included below.) What is it about Super Bowl advertising that attracts so much attention from the media, football fans, and people around the world?

(My post:
(Angela's post:

As Michael Wolfe, CEO of Bottom-Line Analytics, wrote, the attraction and value of Super-Bowl advertising has always been its huge audience and high ratings.  But with the cost of a Super Bowl ad in 2020 reaching $58,000 per million impressions, coupled with a declining audience, one wonders if it’s worth it.

Apparently, it is, if for no other reason than the good will and PR hoopla that surrounds each Super Bowl advertiser. In the article, Wolfe discovered that the impact a Super Bowl ad has isn’t just during the game, but actually spikes ad effectiveness for the brand well beyond in some kind of halo benefit.  

Judging the creative effectiveness of Super Bowl ads has become a national sport, especially with the media and social media. Super Bowl is likely the only time of year ads are viewed with eagerness and judgement. It’s a game unto itself.

Finally, one more reason why brands buy into the Super Bowl is to showcase how much they support women. Female presence in Super Bowl ads has risen enormously over the past five years.

QUESTION: What brands do you think are doing a good job with their advertising and/or marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic? Please share examples.

Our company measured 1,451 television and video ads since Covid began in the spring of 2020. In April 2020, ABX found that ads with COVID-related content performed better than non-COVID-related ads by a full +175%. Gratitude for first responders played well at the beginning of the crisis and continues to this day. Consumers would be wise to seek out brands that have made commitments to protecting them through cleanliness, social distancing, and wearing masks.

McDonald’s achieved the highest ABX Index of any Covid-related ads starting in the Spring of 2020 and continuing through the present. It’s a simple ad showing a McDonald’s worker changing signage text to convey the message that “Through May 5, we’ll be feeding First Responders and Healthcare Workers Thank You Meals, for free.”

Subway used that same type of strategy, focused on food donations for those in need.

Like McDonald’s and Subway, Amazon’s advertising has had remarkable staying power since Spring of 2020 until now. Amazon’s ad focuses on the exceptional work of its employees to help others through the pandemic, this time with a female pilot.

QUESTION: According to Laura Holloway, Founder and Chief of The Storyteller Agency (@StorytellerAgcy on Twitter), “Storytelling is our obligation to the next generation. If all we are doing is marketing, we are doing a disservice, and not only to our profession, but to our children, and their children. Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging, and educating them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling.” What does this quote mean to you?

I’d like to invite Gary Getto, President of ABX, to comment.

Gary Getto: The best ads are “problem-solution.” If a client elevates the problem, painting a clear enough picture, he has established the first part of the story. The product, then, becomes the hero. My thoughts are based on measuring 250,000 TV, video, radio, print, FSI and OOH ads in 14 countries.

The brand has to be the hero of your story. Too often, we tell a story that isn’t related to a category or a customer need, and then mention the brand too late, perhaps, in an effort of appearing subtle. When that happens, customers don’t know who the ad is for and get angry at the brand. Bottom line, don’t get so overwhelmed in storytelling that you are unable to create an ad that works.

TWEET THIS: The brand has to be the hero of your story. –Gary Getto, President @ABXindex #BrandStorytelling #BrandExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: If you could predict the future, what marketing trend, marketing buzzword, or social platform will we be talking about a year from now?

Gary Getto, President of ABX, offered a surprising answer to this question: “Faith.” When the world is falling apart, and the problems just keep piling on, people rely on faith, or on others with faith. This is not predicting any particular kind of faith, but it would likely be based on principles, such as, truth and honesty, and would encourage treating others well. We will see this trend intensify.

QUESTION: My favorite marketing quote is from Walter Landor: “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” What does this quote mean to you?

Gary Getto: Brands are created in everything the product does, from conception to build-out to delivery to customer service and to the entire relationship. It is the whole gestalt, which ultimately makes you experience far beyond just what the brand or product provides. It’s everything about your experience interfacing with the product.

TWEET THIS: Brands are created in everything the product does, from conception to build-out to delivery to customer service and to the entire relationship. –Gary Getto, President @ABXindex #BrandExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Angela for sharing her insights – and also Gary’s insights.

Coming up next week here on my Blog: my annual review of the Super Bowl ads. Which brand are you most looking forward to?

Image Credit: Dustin Humes via Wordswag app.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Have You Ever Participated in a Leadership Book Club?

In 2018, thanks to Twitter, I met Katherine Spinney, a fellow advocate for effective leadership. We collaborated on two Q&A posts here on my Blog, and we also collaborated on a TweetChat held on Twitter in April 2020 (all three links appear at the end of this Q&A).

During the crazy covid era, Katherine created and led a leadership book club during the summer months of 2021, and I learned a great deal by reading the chosen books and participating in the discussions. However, as time went on, I wondered how Katherine chose six books (out of thousands on the topic), thus the impetus for this Q&A, which follows a brief intro about Katherine.

Katherine Spinney has spent over a decade in executive leadership positions and now has the great privilege of supporting leaders to develop them and their teams more effectively. Through a trademarked model of leadership, Lead with Your MIND, Katherine goes beyond the traditional model of skill development and combines it with work around mindset, investment, and desire. Her vision is to help build leaders' confidence and impact to better serve their teams and ultimately better serve their clients. Katherine believes that work should provide a source of satisfaction, and she is confident that it can and should be possible for everyone. Visit her website at and connect on Twitter and Instagram @CoachKat2017 and on Facebook /CoachKat2017.

QUESTION: Why did you decide to create the leadership book club?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Although I have been an avid reader most of my life, I had never been in a book club. During the pandemic, I was suddenly part of several and loved them! That sparked the idea to create a leadership book club. A central theme in the work I do with leaders is the importance of consistent investment in growth and the exploration of different ways to grow. Reading is just one of these ways, and it can be a powerful one, particularly combined with reflection and discussion with other leaders.  

QUESTION: How did you choose the six books?

KATHERINE SPINNEY: It was a little selfish in that I wanted to choose books I hadn’t read yet (all but one), but mostly I was looking for books that focused on leadership from a variety of perspectives through a variety of voices. One could be considered a classic, while the rest were more recent, but all were highly acclaimed. One focused on management, others on leadership, and some on where the two intersected. One was about the rules (or “laws”), and another was about breaking the rules. Despite the different perspectives, there were consistent themes that I hope became clear to those in the group.

QUESTION: Which book did you enjoy the most, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: I fell in love with “First Break All the Rules” from Gallup, which was not a surprise because I have followed their research for years and really appreciate their approach. As a team leader, it can be so overwhelming, especially at the beginning, and it can be challenging to move beyond the minutiae of the day-to-day. This book challenges us to really get to know our team members, understand what they bring to the table, and then make sure we are giving them every possible opportunity to contribute those gifts. I also really appreciated their framing of talents and their place at work. I highly recommend (and have!) this book to all team leaders.

QUESTION: Which book disappointed you, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Laws of Leadership was disappointing in some ways. It is a classic, and I suppose it’s easy to pick on the establishment, but there was one moment in particular when the author awkwardly tried to humble himself by drawing an equivalence between his leadership strengths to the many other strengths of his wife. And before he described those strengths, I just knew they were going to be something traditionally feminine and home related, which they were. He lauded her fashion sense and decorating ability, both skills to be sure, but his attempt to make it seem that he believed these to be of equal importance to his leadership skills rang insincere to me. Other concepts in the book seemed outdated, and I did not find the laws particularly inspiring or thought-provoking.

QUESTION: From First, Break All the Rules, what did you think about the Q12 index/statements?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: The Gallup12 came out of extensive research on 1,000,000 workers across the country. The goal was to try and understand what helped people feel satisfied at work. The 12 statements are the result of that research. I share the Gallup12 in my sessions all the time and encourage team leaders to use them in their work with their teams and their individual team members to understand what they need. It is a wonderful tool to spark discussion and improve team leadership and culture.

On a related note, here’s a link to a previous post on this Blog featuring the Q12 Index, in which I interviewed Michelle Braden (@CoachingLeaders on Twitter) in March 2013:

QUESTION: From John Maxwell's book, which of the 21 irrefutable laws was the most important to you, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Most (arguably all) of the laws are fairly standard and non-controversial so they all have their place in understanding what makes leadership effective. If I had to choose one that was most important to me, I would choose law #5, The Law of Addition, which simply states that leaders provide value by serving others. This is the entire purpose of leadership and it takes a while for many leaders to embrace that. Traditional views of leadership where one person gets to make all the rules on behalf of those they lead have thankfully been proven ineffective, though unfortunately they continue in practice. When I work with leaders, we spend a lot of time discussing their motivation and vision. If it doesn’t center their team, I know we have a lot of work to do!

TWEET THIS: Leaders provide value by serving others. (Credit to John Maxwell’s Law number 5 – the law of addition.) ~@CoachKat2017 #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: My favorite book from the six was The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias. I would go so far to say that it should be a "must-read" for everyone who works with people. What was your favorite take-away from that book?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: The authors state early and often that confronting unconscious bias is not about placing blame or feeling guilty, but instead, being part of the solution. We are so quick to get defensive at the mere thought of being biased, and the authors do a great job of normalizing this bias while not absolving us of the responsibility to do something about it. I also loved the concept that we are “blind to our blindness” and that we need to work with other people to help us see what we are unable to see.

QUESTION: Did reading these six books further clarify the differences between managers and leaders, or muddy the waters even further?

KATHERINE SPINNEY: Only in the sense that it has deepened my inability (stubbornness?) to see the importance of stressing the difference. Great leaders need strong management skills, and great managers need leadership skills. All the charts and Venn diagrams on the subject have done nothing but reinforce my belief that it is a false dichotomy and one that does not help those in important positions to support and serve others.

TWEET THIS: Great leaders need strong management skills, and great managers need leadership skills. ~@CoachKat2017 #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My gratitude to Katherine for creating and leading an incredibly insightful leadership book club and for appearing here on my Blog – here’s hoping that she creates and leads another book club one day soon!

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey and Katherine Spinney.


2021 Q&A:
Leadership Is ALWAYS About Those You Lead!

2018 Q&A:
How Can Leaders Help Employees Exceed Expectations? It’s All About the Culture!

2020 TweetChat Highlights: