5 things true leaders will never say (Blog #33)


Last week it was all about the term “push back” and what this really means. This week, I want to talk to you about more terms that will help you distinguish between the true leaders and those that are merely in senior positions. Because, remember, my whole purpose in blogging every week is so you can gain the insight that I gained over 10 years and 9 jobs.

5 things true leaders will never say

No.1 – “I’m the manager and it is what it is!”

As I write this I have a vivid flashback to one of my managers from job #9. When she said those exact words to me, at the same time she raised her shoulders and shook her head side to side as if to say “And there’s nothing that you can do about it!!!” And there I was trying to address some serious concerns about how the team functioned. About workloads and about her workload. Never had I seen a manager soon miserable at work. And when I acknowledged these points instead discussing the issue, I got the attitude of a five-year-old thrown in my face with this ridiculous belief that the situation was what it was and there was nothing we could do to change it. Soooooooooo wrong!!!

There is no weaker sign than when a manager needs to point out their position so obviously. Your employees will never respect you because of a title. Respect is something that is earnt not instructed or demanded.

No. 2 – “You don’t need to know that!”

Yep, I know you know what I’m going to say. It’s only in the worst work cultures that I’ve heard managers use this term.

As I’d witness one of my managers use this quite often, it was amazing how she’d say these words with such confidence like she had every right in doing so. Well, here’s the thing. Using your authority to do something that wouldn’t be acceptable if an employee below you did it, makes you a bully! And that’s exactly what people would call her.

“You don’t need to know that” had simply become an acceptable way of in other words saying “I’m not going to waste my time explaining it to you.”

In job #8 (yes, the one that would’ve been a dream example for companies to mimic) I remember having a chat with most of my managers. I remember asking them things about their job, that didn’t directly involve my position.


Just so I could get a better understanding of it all. In the right workplaces showing interest beyond what you have to do is a positive sign. It’s exactly what you want your employees to do.

And guess what?

When I understood more, I felt better about it all. I was more confident and happier.

Could you imagine if my managers at job #8 turned around to me and said, “You don’t need to know that!” I’d have felt insulted, belittled, bullied and it’s highly unlikely I’d go to them again unless I absolutely had to. There goes trust, respect and any hopes of friendship.

No. 3 – “Guys, less talking and more work.”

The job that I was happiest in (Yes, job #8) was the job that I did the least amount of talking. I loved what I did. And I was very focused and on getting as much done as possible. I enjoyed it. I thrived off of it. And this whole approach was very consistent throughout the whole company. No one had to be told not to talk. But no one was ever told to stop talking. They gave us the freedom to do what we thought best. And the outcome… a fully disciplined team of people working away happily like there was no tomorrow!!

However, at the job where my manager actually had to email us saying “Less talking and more work” (and yes, me included) the culture was the absolute worst. I guess no one was interested in working that much in a place they didn’t like or enjoy. I remember when I’d turn around to speak to a colleague, I’d apologise for interrupting and her response would be “Oh please do, the work I’m doing right now is so boring.”

Need I say more?

No. 4 – “Get your shit together!”

In this case, if you’ve got nothing constructive to say then don’t say anything at all. If there are issues that need to be addressed then do so in a constructive manner. Outline what needs to be done about it. Simply saying “Get your shit together” is nothing short of embarrassing for any manager and a waste of company time!

No. 5 – “Employees come here for money, and that we need to respect.”

When the senior manager of multiple teams within a company says this, that says to me that he doesn’t have a clue.


You don’t want people that are simply there to make money because nothing great comes out of it. These people will merely do what they have to do to get their job done and nothing more because it’s not important to them. When money is the main motivator work culture goes right down the toilet. People are solely focused on what they have to do and nothing else. In these environments no one cares about teammates, culture, friendships, clients or members. And to acknowledge this is one thing, but to then also accept it as being OK, as a senior manager, is alarming to say the least.

 “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them.” Simon Sinek

Blog Tip #33 – By getting a good understanding of these terms, you’ll be able to assess for yourself who you follow and who you don’t. Whose advice or critiques you should value and whose you should completely disregard. Whose opinions you should take on board and whose you shouldn’t. Had I had this advice 10 years ago I would’ve known whose opinions to take seriously and whose to completely disregard. And the outcome would’ve been avoiding a lot of moments of stress and self-doubt that happened simply because I was unable to determine who was worth listening to and who wasn’t.

What did you think about blog post #33?

Is there anything else that you’d add to the list?

What’s been your experience with what I’ve mentioned above?

Tell me about it by leaving a comment below.

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

Talk to you soon.


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“I’m pushing back!” What this really means and what it says about your company (Blog #32)

colleague pushing back

Whether you’re new to the corporate world or have a few years experience under your belt, a quick way to determine what type of culture you’re working under is by the terms used. And based on my experience when the culture is at its worst, one term that you’ll hear a lot of is “I’m pushing back”. And if you’re wondering what this really means, here it is in plain English for you –

“Basically, if what you’re talking about doesn’t fall 100% directly in my job specification, then I don’t give a shit about it and will not help you even if I could do it within about 10 seconds with my eyes closed!”

Get the point?

The words “push back” from what I’ve experienced are simply another way to say “I won’t help because I don’t care!”

Now to be fair, there are reasons why this type of culture develops. One usually starts off more than willing to help, gets burnt along the way and then it becomes all about protecting themselves. And here’s what it can look like.

One particular colleague that I worked with in job #9 started to use this term on everyone, even the ones she was close to. There was no mercy. Once she started saying it, it was like she couldn’t stop saying it.

“I’m starting to push back.”
“I’m really pushing back now.”
“I’m just going to push back.”

And all you’d hear around you is everyone’s comment about how this person is really pushing back.

But what you need to know is that this person wasn’t like this at the start. When she first started working for the company I remember vividly how sweet she was. Happy to help no matter what. She was a real team player. But she continued this approach and under very bad leadership saw that no matter what she did it got overlooked, to say the least, to the point where she stopped caring about doing right by the team. Her total focus became all about taking care of herself.

Even though I knew her story and couldn’t blame her to a certain point, through this process it was almost like she was starting to lose her humanity. She became so focused on protecting herself, she even lost sight of the people that she didn’t need to do that with. That had proven to her they’d help her in times of need.

And you know what the sad thing about all this is?

She adopted this “push back” approach as direct advice from the HR manager. Yep, directly from the people that are there to maintain a healthy work culture. Sure, there were major issues and this was the HR manager’s attempt to help her. But instead of dealing with the culture issues that we were all suffering from, all the HR manager did is give her the OK to turn her back on the team.

As a result, everyone started to resent her, including myself. Her whole attitude put me off. If she didn’t care about what I had to say then why would I care about what she had to say? Especially, when I had gone out of my way more than once to help her.

Out of all the things that could’ve been said and approaches used, the one recommendation that the HR manager made only added to the work culture issues that were already being faced. The “push back” approach resulted in the loss of friendships, respect and trust – all the things vital for an effective team.

And just for the record, in my job #8 (yep, the one that I say was so freaking good that Simon Sinek could easily use it as an example for one of his books) I never once heard the term “push back”. If anything it was the complete opposite – “What else can I help you with?”

Blog Tip #32 – Never underestimate how the use of certain terms can identify the condition of the culture you’re working in. No matter how subtle. You’d be surprised at how many people with 20-30 years experience, even those working in HR, have come to accept certain terms, that openly display how toxic the culture is, as being perfectly normal.

What did you think about blog post #32?

Have you come across this term “push back” before? Or, have you used it yourself? If, so, why?

Tell me about it by leaving a comment below.

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

Talk to you soon.


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Do you understand what work culture really means? (Blog #31)

company culture folder

I ask this question because it’s safe to say that the vast majority of the people that I’ve worked with simply didn’t get it. In fact, they weren’t even close to understanding it’s true value.

Most people would link it to those free lunches they’d get every now and then. And most managers would think they have work culture covered by providing those free lunches. (Let me let you in on a little secret – IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FREE FOOD OR DRINKS!!)

Even at times when I was experiencing the work environment from hell, my honest attempt to try and do something about the work culture was treated as if it was nothing important and almost a waste of time. And out of all the culture building activities talked about, the one the team really wanted was back massages in the office.

Are you freaking kidding me??

This suggestion alone made me give up hope.

How the hell was this going to improve relationships among team members that were strained, tense and awkward at best?

It wouldn’t!

There were a lot of other culture building activities that were needed to help this team out that should’ve been considered before back massages! Had people known the value of what these activities could do for them.

Hey. If there weren’t issues bigger than Mount Everest then fine. As an added bonus why not consider back massages? But it wasn’t going to do anything to a team that was losing people almost on a weekly basis.

Based on this, you could argue that it’s hard to recognise the importance of work culture in a bad environment, especially if workers have never experienced anything better. But what really surprised me is that even when the environment was the best that I’ve experienced, colleagues were unable to recognise what made it great.

Don’t get me wrong, when things were great everyone was happy. It’s not that they didn’t feel happy. But it later become clear that some really didn’t have a clue of why they were so happy. And here’s one example for you.

It was a typical Friday except for the fact that an unplanned staff meeting had been called. I must admit I wasn’t worried. Everything had gone so well for me in this job I thought surely there’s nothing to be worried about. As we all sat around the boardroom table we listened diligently to our CEO who told us, then and there, that we were merging. The company was changing and nothing would be as it was. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing!

One person screamed out “Oh no!” Others listened on in silence taking in what this would possibly mean for them. But what I still remember vividly to this day is how one of my colleagues, as his very first questions, asked if our 3% annual increase in salary was at risk?



Out of all the things we were losing, for that to be top of mind, made it clear to me that this person really didn’t have a clue as to how good we had it and, more importantly, why it was so good.

I would’ve been willing to forfeit that raise for years in replace of the opportunities we had when working for that company, simply for it not to merge and remain how it was.

Blog Tip #31

What did you think about blog post #31?

What has your experience with work culture been like? What do you think it comes down to?

Tell me about it by leaving a comment below.

If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

Talk to you soon.


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