How Hidden Agendas Impact Organizational Success


In reality, there are very few villains who view themselves as villains. They just have a certain agenda at a certain time.” —Michael Jai White

Hidden agendas make it impossible to unite your team and achieve shared success. They destroy trust and eliminate any hope for transparency. When hidden agendas are in play in your organization, your team is divided and it is every man for himself. When leaders and employees have their own agenda, they are looking out for their own best interest and not the interest of the whole. Here’s how.

Hidden agendas reveal motives

When you, as a leader, have a hidden agenda employees will begin to perceive you as devious. They will start to question your motives, words, and actions. Soon you lose their trust. Without trust, you lose your ability to influence others.

Hidden agendas are self-serving

When employees operate based on hidden agendas, they are working toward their own goals and what will benefit them the most. In order for an organization to be successful, every participant must be working toward the same goal.

Hidden agendas jeopardize morale

Hidden agendas are perhaps the single greatest morale buster within your organization. They conceal true motives and are in many ways deceiving. Once exposed it can leave your team feeling demoralized and betrayed. When morale has been compromised your effectiveness will suffer.

Hidden agendas endanger your company’s future

We can’t state it emphatically enough – hidden agendas on many fronts are a threat that reaches beyond the scope of your internal structure. Unfortunately, identifying hidden agendas can be difficult. Addressing them in time can be a real challenge for you as a leader. Here are a few questions that can help shed some light on hidden agendas and help you as a leader before it is too late.

Are we driven by our values or by our profits?

When you and your people are driven by values rather than by profits then hidden agendas become less important. When the driving force behind your organization is to put people over profits, honesty above cutting corners, and integrity over deception then the profits will follow.

Does our communication foster accountability and growth?

Open communication is the life-blood of a sound organizational structure. But it must go beyond that by holding people accountable for what they say and do. When the lines of communication are flowing and everyone’s voice is being heard then hidden agendas are more readily identified and confronted.

Are we building strong relationships within our teams?

We accomplish nothing alone. We need the collaboration and participation of every member of the team. In order to be successful, we must build strong relationships within our teams. And, relationships are based on trust; there can be no trust when hidden agendas are in play.

Are we working toward shared goals?

If we are not working together toward shared goals, each member of your team will be working toward their own goals. This is where hidden agendas take form. Each team member focuses their energies on doing and getting whatever they need to be successful regardless of how it will affect the success of the team as a whole.

None of us set out to intentionally undermine the success of our organization but, this is exactly what happens when hidden agendas are at work. Our motives become questionable. Our actions become self-serving. We jeopardize morale. And, we end up endangering the future of our company.

Our objective here is to not only raise awareness to the pitfalls of hidden agendas but to show a better way. The strength of your organization is found in its people working together toward shared goals and values. When hidden agendas are put to rest then the team can move forward together.


© 2016 Doug Dickerson and Elizabeth Stincelli



Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at



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On The Brink and Out the Door: How Employers Can Build a Culture that Matters



People don’t quit companies, they quit lousy bosses. – Jimmy Collins

I was in the car not long ago listening to an episode of the Dave Ramsey Show ( when a caller was describing to Dave how her husband was ready to quit his six-figure income because of a toxic work environment that had pushed him to the brink.

I couldn’t help but wonder how a person in such a financially secure position could walk away from it due to deplorable working conditions. Unfortunately, it’s a wide spread  problem for far too many people.

A Benefits Pro article ( reveals some of the top reasons why many in the workplace are ready to bolt. Among the top reasons are: Low pay, awful commute, unreasonable workload, annoying co-workers, poor work/life balance, lack of opportunity for advancement, the boss, and layoff/firing fear, to name a few.

If you were to give yourself an honest assessment of your present circumstance would you find yourself in the position like the lady talking to Ramsey or perhaps a person described in the article above who for whatever the reason were ready to quit?

Perhaps you are an employer who is trying to make sense of poor morale and attitudes that reflect a disengagement that troubles you. Here are some steps you can take to begin to close the gap and build a culture that matters.

Look in the mirror

Building the kind of company workers would never dream of leaving begins by being the kind of leader everyone wants to follow. If workers are ready to walk out the door making six figures it likely has less to do with the company and more to do with the leader. Never stop growing and learning as a leader and before you try to grow others, grow yourself.

Get connected

It was John Maxwell who said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Unless you get this right, your organization will be a revolving door of talent who can and will go elsewhere. Building your company begins by building relationships. When your people mean more to you than your profits you will never have to worry about people walking out the door.

Build bridges

Building a culture of trust and openness begins when you connect your people to one another. While job descriptions and responsibilities may vary it is important that each person see the value of his or her role. Job titles and duties may vary but everyone brings talent and skills needed for success. Building a culture that matters begins when you bring people together, not when you keep them apart.

Embrace change

Building a culture that matters can only happen in an environment where change is allowed. The way things were done twenty years ago may have served you well at the time but how is it working now? Employee engagement is essential to your success and creative options exist today on levels that were not present a decade or two ago. Many an organization have lost their competitive edge simply because they were not ahead the curve as it relates to change. Don’t let your inability to change be the reason your best and brightest flee.

Be willing to prune

The truth is, some people are never happy unless they are unhappy. They are chronic complainers and whiners. They have bad attitudes and are the laggards on every decision to move forward. For them the glass is always half empty and they are always finding fault along with sowing seeds of strife. The old saying goes, “What you tolerate, you promote.”  In order to build a culture that matters in which everyone can thrive and reach their potential you must accept the reality that not everyone can or should take the journey with you. Let them go.

Give ownership

When your people are empowered they will seldom disappoint. It’s an age old principle that has been proven time and time again. When people have ownership and the power to make decisions at the closest level to the problem they will succeed. Sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is to get out of the way. When there is a shared ownership of the mission and vision then everyone has a stake in the outcome. The key for you as a leader is to welcome your people into the process, not shut them out.

These are but a few practical steps that if implemented can start a process of closing your revolving door and building the kind of culture that you and your people can take pride in. Are you ready to get started?


© 2016 Doug Dickerson






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Life, Work, and Discovering Your ‘Why’: Finding Balance in an Unstable World


In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field.

“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.”

Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life.  “I determined right then,” he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”

Many people often miss the most important things in life because they fail at this essential skill as a leader- work/life balance. It’s a struggle for many leaders. Could it be yours?

In research conducted by EY ( it was reported that, “33% of full-time employees globally say it has gotten more difficult to manage work/family in the last five years. The most common reasons cited 49% “my salary has not increased much, but my expenses have” and 48% “my responsibilities at work have increased.” Sound familiar?

Having a good work/life balance is essential to your success. As a leader you are not immune from the challenge. In fact, it may be more problematic for you. So what is the solution? Here are a few tips to help you recapture some of that much needed balance.

Begin with your priorities

Almost every article I read on work/life balance begins with work. It goes without saying that work is important. But how would things be different for you if you looked at it from the viewpoint of a life/work balance? If the priorities of your life are not in order then how can work? Get life’s priorities in order first then you can take care of the rest.

Discover your ‘why’

I’m a firm believer that you should do what you love and love what you do. When you do, it’s not work but your passion. Understanding your ‘why’ is essential to you as a leader. John Maxwell framed it this way, “People who know their why can keep their heads while everything around them is in turmoil. And that draws others to them.” Life and work makes sense when you know why you are here.

Get flexible with schedules

Fortunately, many companies are seeing the benefit of flexible work schedules which allows for greater productivity, greater teamwork, and happier employees, etc. ( Creating a work/life balance does not have to be an either/or proposition where one is good and the other is not. Smart leaders can create a culture where both can thrive.

Define your borders

As a leader many things compete for your time and attention. If not careful you can get caught up in solving problems that are not yours to solve, involved in details that easily can be handled by someone else, and otherwise distracted from having the work/life balance you desire. This is an area in which you will need to stand firm. Define your borders and stick to it.

Get real about relationships

People are your greatest appreciable asset. Building strong relationships is the key to your growth as a leader and to the success of your organization. But surrounding yourself with the right people is more important than surrounding yourself with a lot of people. So here are some questions you need to answer: Are those closest to you adding value or subtracting? Do those closest to you share your vision and values and see the big picture or are they in it for themselves? Relationships are key to your work/life balance. If you are surrounded by the wrong people then it’s time to prune.

Lighten up

Ella Wheeler said, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone”. Creating a good work/life balance can be just one laugh away. It’s important to take your work seriously, but not yourself. Laugh. Lighten up. Learn to take things in stride. Don’t be wound up so tight that you can’t enjoy a light moment now and then.

Your work/life balance begins with these simple steps. Are you ready for some balance in your life?


© 2016 Doug Dickerson

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Transformational Leadership Webinar


On Thursday, January 28th at 7 p.m. EST, I am teaming up with my good friend and prolific leadership author John Patrick Hickey as we present the Transformational Leadership Webinar.

We will share our insights on transformational leadership and how you can take your leadership to the next level.

Space is limited so be sure to reserve your spot today. At only $15 this is an investment in your leadership you will not want to miss.

To reserve your spot go to and register today!

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Relationships: The Fuel of Your Company Culture


The purpose of life is not to be happy, it is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. – Emerson

Some time ago I came across this story of 76- year old Bill Baker. If you think your family has problems, consider the mayhem created when he wed Edna Harvey. She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn.

Lynn said, “My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother. My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law. My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew. But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins.”

From this experience, Lynn should gain profound insight into the theory of relativity.

We’d all agree that relationships can be tricky. We bring to any workplace culture our own unique personality, quirks, beliefs, and qualities. Blending those characteristics into a cooperative environment can be a challenge.

The truth is, we live and work in the context of relationships and as leaders we are not exempt. Are you being intentional about the value of relationships and doing what you can to foster good ones? Passive participation will produce nominal results at best.

Building a strong organizational culture begins with building solid relationships – it’s that simple. But it’s also that hard. So what is a leader to do? Here are four steps to building better relationships.

Take the initiative

This is one of the fundamental characteristics of a strong leader. As such, you do not wait to take the first steps in the right direction. Take responsibility and act as if developing good relationships depends on you- because it does.

You build good relationships as a leader by being proactive. For some leaders this may be a big step out of your comfort zone but the more you do it the more at ease you will become. Show your people that relationships matter by making it personal.

Find common ground

Good relationship are essential to your company culture. Mesh all of the personalities and differences together and you have the potential for something truly unique and special—if you do it right.

So long as we allow our differences to divide us we will have problems. A strong leader will find common ground, find points of common interests and goals, and build off of it. Our objective is not to create molds of ourselves – to mold everyone into our way of thinking, believing, and way of doing things. It’s to embrace our differences, build off of our uniqueness, and elevate everyone because of it. Find common ground and build from there.

Welcome everyone

Building relationships in your company environment happens as everyone is welcomed in. The responsibility rests with you as the leader to create an atmosphere in which everyone is made to feel welcome and no one is shut out. To foster anything less is to play favorites and create division.

When diversity of relationships are seen through the lens of value that each person in your organization possesses then everyone feels like they belong. Your life as a leader is much richer and rewarding when you experience the full range and scope of a diversity of relationships. Do yourself a favor- broaden your circle and welcome everyone.

Look outside yourself

The final thought is this – the strength of your relationships and the power of the company culture you build is realized not when you attain it but in how you use it. It’s not so much about having a “look at us” mentality, but in a “how can we serve you?” expression of it.

As a leader it’s not about you. If you integrate that belief and expand it system wide, then you have the potential to do great things. Why not tap into the uniqueness of your people, harness the power of your relationships, and turn it into a force for good? Can you imagine the impact you can make? When you do this then you will begin to discover a whole new dimension of the power of relationships. Are you ready?


© 2016 Doug Dickerson



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Three Characteristics of Exemplary Leaders


Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, see how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control. – Tom Landry

A story is told of Gen. George C. Marshall when upon taking command of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, GA, found the post in a generally run-down condition. Rather than issue orders for specific improvements, he simply got out his own paintbrushes, lawn equipment, etc., and went to work on his personal quarters. The other officers and men, first on his block, then throughout the post, did the same thing, and Fort Benning was brightened up. Leadership by example.

Many a leader want to equip their teams to achieve certain results, move the company forward, set new sales records, etc., but fall short at the most basics leadership practices to get there.

Living a life of exemplary leadership is not an elusive goal that only a select few can attain. You can live it every day if you will simply follow the example of Gen. Marshall. Here are three observations from the story that can elevate your leadership.

Exemplary leaders are decisive

Arriving at Ft. Benning, Gen. Marshall found run-down conditions. Rather than assess blame or pull rank by assigning the task to men under his command, he took decisive action and began the work himself.

There is a time and place to forge strategy, communicate across the spectrum, and otherwise set plans into motion that will best serve your organization. But there is also a time to act.

Do you want to be a decisive leader? Exemplary leaders are those who see what needs to be done and do it.

Exemplary leaders are engaged

One of the largest complaints among employees that you will find in most any survey is that they have a manager or boss who is disengaged. In fact, in a story by US News and World Report, ( it was revealed that, “Only 18 percent of managers at U.S. jobs had “high talent” for leadership skills, including the ability to encourage accountability in the workplace, motivate workers and build relationships with them.” Sobering, isn’t it?

Being engaged as a leader can’t be phoned in, faked, nor neglected. If you want to lead on a level that engages your team then you have to be engaged with your people and be intentional about creating a culture in which your people can thrive.

Do you want to be an engaged leader? Just as Gen. Marshall took out the paint brush and went to work, so too must you roll up your sleeves and not be afraid to get your hands dirty. Get engaged and get involved with your people.

Exemplary leaders take responsibility

Maybe in some circles taking responsibility has become a lost art, but it still works. Upon arriving at Ft. Benning, Gen Marshall saw what had to be done and went to work. Beneath the dignity of a General? Maybe. Below his pay grade. No doubt. But exemplary leaders are not worried about either- they just see what needs to be done and get busy.

Peter Drucker said, “Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” And that is the essence of exemplary leaders. When you worry less about your title and position and more about the responsibilities that come with it the greater your impact you will have as a leader.

Do you want to be a responsible leader? Play the hand you are dealt. Find solutions and not fault. Set the example by being the example of what exemplary leadership is all about.


©2016 Doug Dickerson

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Four Attitudes for an Extraordinary New Year


And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Welcome to 2016! As we kick off the New Year we are once again reminded of resolutions made, resolutions kept, and resolutions that fell by the wayside. What about you? Did you make any resolutions?

In a post on Static Brain ( the Top 10 resolutions of 2015 were to lose weight, get organized, spend less-save more, enjoy life to the fullest, stay fit and healthy, learn something new, quit smoking, help others in their dreams, fall in love, and spend more time with family. Sound familiar?

As leaders it’s important to keep our goals fresh and review our priorities. It’s how we stay focused and achieve our goals. As we enter 2016 allow me to share four simple attitudes with you that serve as reminders for our growth and how you can make 2016 extraordinary.

The attitude of a learner

Your year will be extraordinary as a leader as you embrace the attitude of a learner. It’s when you think you know it all that you stop growing and become stagnant.  Your personal growth and development hinges on an attitude of learning, not on an attitude of coasting off past experiences.

For the leader, school is always in session and the opportunities are limitless. Devote yourself to learning all you can, reading all you can (, and growing all you can as a leader in 2016.

The attitude of a winner

Your success in 2016 begins with your own thinking. It begins when you take responsibility for your attitude. When you embrace the attitude of a winner then good things will begin to happen for you. Of course, it takes more than a good attitude to succeed such as your work ethic, but if your attitude stinks you won’t go far.

As a leader this will always be one of the greatest challenges you will face. Negative people and attitudes are not hard to find, so you will have to work extra hard to rise above all the negative voices. That being said, do it- and do it at all costs. Your extraordinary year depends on it.

The attitude of a giver

Think for a moment what the impact would be if every leader you know, starting with you, took to heart the attitude of being a giver? The world around you would look a lot different wouldn’t it? Significance as a leader begins with the attitude of giving. It becomes extraordinary when you influence others to do the same.

John Maxwell says, “If we want to achieve significance then we need to become intentional about getting beyond ourselves and putting other people first.” Extraordinary leadership begins when you get the focus off of yourself and put it on others.

The attitude of a listener

What will set you apart as an extraordinary leader is being one who listens. I know for some it runs counter to what they like to do, but leaders who excel are those who know when it’s time to speak and when it’s time to listen.

Larry King said, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” What a great philosophy. Learning and listening are synonymous to each other. What we have to say and offer as leaders is only as valuable as what we take in by listening.

Make it your purpose in 2016 to live an extraordinary life as a leader. It all begins with your attitude. Happy New Year!


© 2016 Doug Dickerson

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