Tag Archives: keeping talent

Four Reasons Leaders Need To Avoid Labels

Labels were part of my upbringing. I say that because in my family each child was given a label to describe their abilities or personality. One of us was the baker and dramatic. One of us was pushy and a guitar player. One of us was an ice skater and not an academic. And crazy as it may seem, we lived up to those descriptions. They became us and we became them. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, that if we are told that we should behave or act in a certain way or that we are talented or not so capable, we tend to gravitate towards those depictions. We even create a narrative about who we are and what we can accomplish based on those labels.

Similarly in our companies and on our teams, we place labels on the people we work with. We decide early on who they are and what they are able to contribute. We continue to believe that the characteristics we attach to our co-workers and bosses are there for the long haul, never to be adjusted. This is how it is and we evaluate each of our strengths using those labels.

Leaders need to recognize that when they label the people they work with they are not empowering them to be their best or live up to their potential. Rather, the label becomes a self-limiting belief.

 Four reasons leaders need to avoid labels:


If we believe that stereotyping is never a helpful way to assess other people’s abilities, then labeling others falls into the same category. When we attach a particular attitude or ability to someone, we are using a “judgy” word to describe their capabilities rather than being specific about the value they may bring to a project or solution. Adjectives are often a waste of time and only add confusion to working with others.


We know that when children are “tracked” in how they will academically perform, they tend to stay exactly in that zone. If they are told they are only capable of achieving average grades they begin to believe it and just turn in average work. On the other hand, if they believe they have the potential to rise to outstanding work, they often will get there one way or another. The same is true with the people we work with. If they think we believe they can contribute in an outstanding way they often will.

  • Encourage each team member to try new things and take risks
  • Give credit generously
  • Stop yourself from using labels like “lazy”, “not capable” or “overwhelmed”


When leaders use labels other colleagues and departments may start to believe the labels too. So if we say that a team member is not committed (another nutty adjective) others may start to believe that too. This is how we stigmatize people. STOP! Everyone is entitled to have a good and bad day or a more or less successful project. Work on developing the strengths in others and help team members overcome their blindspots.


When teams get in the habit of labeling members they will tend to rely on the same people to always do the same work. The result will be less creative outcomes and less participation. Team members will not grow because they will not be encouraged to try projects outside of their “label”. An organization will never develop new leaders with new perspectives or capabilities unless we dump the practice of labeling.

How have labels impacted your leadership or team?

How Leaders Help Others Find Their Genius


“Ultimately my job, with the people who work for me, is to find your genius, and to help you find your genius. And if we can do that, that’s the magic.” 

                                                            Amy Errett, Chief Execuitve of Madison Reed

 When was the last time you purposely tried to discover the gifts or genius in your co-workers, team members or people you come into contact with daily? Maybe the better question is: Have you ever thought about what talents or strengths people have that you connect with… Continue reading | 23 Comments

How Can Leaders Honor Relationships?

Whether we are senior executive leaders or middle management leaders, our biggest and most powerful challenge is creating the best team. According to Jim Collins, it all starts and ends with people. He points out that: “It all begins with people. Right people on the bus. Right people in the right seats on the bus. Then we can drive. The single most important skill for an Executive? The ability to pick the right people, to make disciplined people decisions and get the right people in the right jobs.” I would add that there is also a concluding step that honors and recognizes the value in each person’s contribution. The lifeline of our organizations is still the talent and how we choose to cultivate those precious work relationships can make or… Continue reading

Do You Encourage People To Find Their Voice?

An important measurement of strong leadership is creating a highly functional performing team. There are many ways to motivate team members, but none more important than empowering each person to share their views and ideas. If people are encouraged to offer innovative suggestions without risking being shot down, do you think that they might contribute to an inspired team spirit with potentially outstanding results? According to Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman– “It turns out that employees who feel appreciated personally will take creative risks that result in innovative ideas and products. Organizations that want to survive in today’s climate have to nurture and capture all the good ideas they can” Here are a few hints in empowering others to find their voice:


Leadership Focus of 2011- Keep Your Talent

Happy New Year to all of you and I hope 2011 brings success and pride to all of you. As the economy slowly turns around and our organizations begin to regroup, one thing for sure will be challenging: keeping our current team in tact. All around me I keep hearing about disillusioned employees waiting to jump and seize a better work opportunity. Knowing that we have held onto outstanding performing employees due to the poor job market, should be a wake-up call to all of us. Have you asked yourself, “What will I do if my strong team members decide to go to another organization when jobs begin to open?” How well prepared are you to keep your talent?