When you have lived as long as I have (please don’t ask…), the phrase “He’s a good guy” becomes a bit of a red flag. It is often used to defend someone who is good to the speaker but not so good to others, particularly those in another demographic group. The phrase can imply that perhaps the target deserves the harassment for some reason – they must be a difficult person.
In their hbr.org article, Stop Protecting “Good Guys,” Resa E. Lewiss, MD, W. Brad Johnson, David G. Smith, and Robin Naples, M.D. articulately describe the problematic nature of the “Good Guy” defense for workplace harassment in STEMM industries, and offer suggestions for addressing the problem. Their affirmative steps to improve situational awareness are helpful. They also recommend checking your own impulse to gaslight and behave differently.
My husband, a retired physician, taught me the phrase “check your own pulse first,” which I would add to their recommendations. When you want to gaslight by using the “good guy” defense, ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to defend this behavior?” Explore your own feelings before considering the other players. Check your own pulse first, then check theirs.
Having empathy exclusively for a harasser will hurt the person harassed, will hurt you and your organization, and will ultimately hurt the harasser. Try to develop empathy for the “other’s” perspective, especially if you are inclined to use the “good guy” defense for what you know is problematic behavior.
When someone is good to you, that does not necessarily mean they are good to all.
On a lighter note, as a retired attorney, I noticed these authors focused on STEMM industries. They may have left out the legal field because it is not a science, or maybe because you just don’t often hear people describe lawyers – in any circumstances – as “good guys.” We tend to get a bad rap!
Take a moment to read this article and take your own pulse to see if you rely on the “Good Guy” defense when you should not.
Have you been asked to write a letter of recommendation? Was it…
- to recommend a colleague or someone you supervised?
- as ghost writer for your supervisor to recommend a coworker?
- for yourself when you asked for a letter of recommendation?
When I receive an uptick in queries about letters of recommendation, it means more people are closing in on positions, which is great. What can be tough is navigating the delicate world of letters of recommendation.
Two articles nicely address important issues for drafting letters for yourself or others:
When Someone Asks You for a Reference by Rebecca Knight in HBR at https://hbr.org/2015/10/when-someone-asks-you-for-a-reference
How to write a letter of recommendation – for yourself by Dr. Adaira Landry & Dr. Resa E. Lewiss in Fast Company at https://www.fastcompany.com/90757084/how-to-write-a-letter-of-recommendation-for-yourself
Key takeaways are:
1. GIVE CONTEXT
Establish how the letter signatory knows the person being recommended
2. GIVE DATA
Save superlative conclusions about character for your close. For the body of your letter, provide objective accomplishments that show someone’s capabilities.
3. BE HONEST
Preserve your reputation and only write a letter if you can truly recommend the person. Conversing with the requester about strengths and job requirements will help you decide if you want to put your name on the line. Politely refuse if you would not hire the person for that role.
If someone writes a letter of recommendation for you, be sure to follow up with a thank you and an update on the position. If they care enough to write the letter, they surely are interested in the outcome.
What are your experiences requesting or writing letters of recommendation?
3 Reasons Leaders Should Celebrate Teams: Recognition, Bonding, & Pause Points Create Long Term Success
At the close of an important project, strong leaders capitalize on that moment to reinforce the team's learning and bonds. Team celebrations are an essential part of the long-term growth and health of your team. They are opportunities to express gratitude, which improves employee productivity and longevity. Celebrations recognize accomplishments, create bonding, and create necessary Pause Points for your team. Employ these three essential facets of celebrations to build a great team over time.
1. CELEBRATIONS RECOGNIZE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Recognizing accomplishments ensures your team knows you appreciate their win AND their hard work achieving it. When recognizing a goal reached, be sure you express gratitude for the effort it took to get there. Mention when the journey began, how far you came, what changed along the way, and what obstacles they overcame. If the goal itself changed or your process had to be overhauled, be sure to recognize that as a significant point in the journey.
Ask your team leaders what their hurdles were, and of what they are most proud. Elevating the story of these victories to your level (or higher) reminds them that you support them along every journey, even if you are not visibly in the weeds with them. This helps to motivate your team in the future, and helps them to see that adversities arising mid-stream will make for great stories when all is behind you.
2. CELEBRATIONS BOND TEAMS
Every team is sure to find friction among members during a project. Remembering those friction points and recognizing how team members resolved to work together highlights the strength of your team - their resilience and fortitude. These reminders focus them on the solutions rather than the problem, which of course helps the next time friction arises. When you demonstrate gratitude for your team members, you model healthy interpersonal skills and set the tone for your team culture. It also demonstrates that you understand team friction happens and that you value solutions most of all.
Whether the team worked well together or struggled to find harmony, celebrating togetherness at the completion of your project affirms teamwork going forward. Recognizing any subtle or behind-the-scenes contributions also helps everyone see that you are, in fact, a team, and that everyone contributes as best they can.
3. CELEBRATIONS CREATE PAUSE POINTS
"Congratulations on our Q4 results. You all went the extra mile to make our company a real success. Our next goals is..." How many of us have experienced recognition for a job well done, followed in the same breath by focus on the new goal? Moving directly from recognition of an accomplishment straight into the next goal is a great way to fatigue and alienate your team. If this is how you celebrate, you will soon see your best people depart.
Creating a Pause Point, a team-wide deep breath, after completing a big project is important, and the best way to initiate the pause is with the celebration. Take time to celebrate all of the good, all of the learning, all of the bonding, and then give your team a breather. It shows you truly do appreciate everything you just recognized. Taking a pause validates the importance of the accomplishment you have just celebrated, and it gives your team opportunity to recharge before launching on the next task. Even it if it just letting them leave an hour or two early (for smaller projects), granting space to recuperate shows your team that you value their time and effort. They surely gave you extra during the project; giving back a little afterward is a concrete way to show gratitude.
Leadership requires using milestones to build and strengthen your team. Strong leaders know that celebrations using Recognition, Bonding, and Pause Points are most effective at building strong teams for the long run.
Contact Network for Impact to learn more about making essential celebrations for your teams at firstname.lastname@example.org.