Friday, August 19, 2011

You Are Always "On The Record."

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If anyone should introduce or preface a question to you (especially while the two of you would seem to be alone, and away from the crowd) with words to the effect of "Could you tell me, off the record...," or, "Just between the two of us...," "Level with me...,"or, "In the strictest confidence...," or, " What did you really think of that?" -- You should immediately (and invisibly) become acutely suspicious of that individual's reasons, intentions and trustworthiness.

These very common but manipulative "comforting" statements are attempts to get you to reveal information that: you would not want to go any further; could be damaging to you or someone else; could be overhead; could be repeated out of context; could actually be used to gauge your trustworthiness or credibility (i.e., where you are being 'tested' by a third party); or which could be recorded, broadcast and utilized by those whose interests conflict with yours. This "invitation to confide" could actually be an invitation to unwarranted personal bonding, or to self-incrimination


  • Take your time to choose your response very, very carefully ;
  • Do not speak ill of anyone;
  • Do not divulge any secrets, or betray any confidences;
  • Speak euphemistically and innocuously (;
  • Say very little of any substance;
  • Be brief with your answer, and try to say it with a smile -- you are creating a friendly, harmless, bland soundbite;
  • Preface your response, after a brief pause, with "Why do you ask?" and wait for a slightly surprised uncomfortable answer before proceeding;
  • Once you've made your brief, harmless comment ("Well, the coffee was a bit cold."), let the other individual (your interrogator) do all of the talking, and then listen carefully.
The Rule:

Always speak as if you were being recorded and broadcast to the universe. Assume that everything that you say to everyone is "on the record," regardless of what they might want you to believe. Observance of this command rule is one that will stand you in good stead. Many persons with otherwise great career trajectories have been caught in this trap.

Use the intuitive filter of your good political sense instead of your natural inclination to blab, insult, confide and to backbite.

You may safely assume that you are always "on the record".

Douglas E Castle []

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Genius And Leadership: James Joyce

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Leadership and command require skills taken from a variety of disciplines, including acting, advocacy, imagination, creativity, spontaneity, applied psychology and a knowledge of basic science. Following is a brilliant quote from poet and author James Joyce regarding the essence of genius as I believe that it applies directly to leadership -- and demonstrating how important perspective and perception are in explaining things to your charges or audience when you are cast in the role of being a Leader:

"A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery." James Joyce

Some quick observations:

1) Explanations can be every bit as important as actions;

2) How you conduct yourself after the act of doing anything (whether charity or murder) will be observed and interpreted in judging you in relation to the act itself;

3) Trial and error are permissible in a leader, within limits -- but they must be explained as attempts, experiments, monitoring or tests, and never as a lack or loss of direction.

As an aside, it is best to remember that as a leader, you are always being watched, always being judged, and always expected to have an answer which you can serve up without a moment's hesitation. Difficult? No. Impossible! But the "magic" of great leadership is to do, or to appear to do, what no one else could ever do.

Douglas E Castle ( - For a list of other blogs by this same author.

Taking Command! Blog -

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Leadership - Setting The Mood And The Tone

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Most individuals are reactive. First; emotionally (they will easily "pick up" on the mood signal of an articulate, strong leader -- for better or worse). Second; intellectually (they will follow the course set by a commander who is perceived as certain of his or her direction). A leader sets the mood and the plan of action. As a leader, you are not permitted to let your spirits flag, to express doubts, or to appear defeated in the presence of your charges. These feelings are luxuries which can only be afforded by those who follow you, or those who follow others.

Yes, every captain, every chief is a Human Being, with moments of insecurity, doubt, introspection, uncertainty and battle fatigue -- but to be excellent in your command, you must discipline yourself from visibly indulging in these moments. You must either learn to act, to control your internal commentary and to be absent or inaccessible when you may run the risk of planting the seeds of doubt, fear or lawlessness amongst those who are so prone to mirroring your mood.

Taking command, whether of a company, a team, a military squadron or a project requires tremendous emotional self-mastery. You are responsible for setting the mood and the tone of those who have entrusted you with some aspect of their fortunes and their futures. You will learn to play the role - but you will have to withstand frequent feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Do not lose sight of the fact that your responsibilities are far greater than merely taking care of yourself. You are responsible to lead, but you are a servant of those who have chosen to join your ranks.

If you are truly worthy, you will master yourself, as this is necessary in order to encourage, inspire and motivate others.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Your Life Is A Business: Plan. Prepare. Decide. Go.

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It would seem to be so simple. Be prepared. Plan. Don't panic. Be vigilant and proactive --- don't be passive and reactive. Don't wait until you're desperate to make decisions - your decisions (not your knee-jerk responses) are your destiny. Even in those things that are not within your control; you CAN control your response. Business success is attained through clarity, decisiveness, focus and tenacity. Again?

Those (above) are the realities of business success. If you picture your life as a business -- a journey where you must first define what your destination will be, and where you must secondly take the incremental steps (forward or sideways, but not backward) and make the incremental decisions that will bring you there. That's right - not "take you there."

By the way, during the longer journey, expect some detours, delays and problems. Permit yourself to course-correct as necessary. Adjusting your trajectory is a part of living in the real world -- it is not an admission of foolishness or weakness. It's not about ego. It's about You Go.

Soldier on with the business of your life, friends, comrades and colleagues.

Douglas E Castle

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

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You must exude self-confidence if you choose to be a leader. People admire decisiveness and strength of conviction even more than they do wisdom and diplomacy in a leader. It's true. To command others, they must be coldly convinced that you are absolutely resolute in your goals, beliefs and personal identity.

The majority of the populace does not want to be inundated with research, choices and philosophy -- people eschew this cerebration for "bottom-line" leadership. They want to follow someone who has (presumably) done all of that work for them and is prepared to forge ahead immediately.

Self-confidence is manifest in simple, methodical, bold words and action steps. Wavering is (with the occasional exception of a  Bill Clinton) seen as weakness or deceitfulness.

This whole phenomenon steps from a deep, behavioral propensity on the part of most people to be led by a parental figure, despite their idle protestations to the contrary.

To Take Command, you must be a leader in every aspect. You must be, and you must appear self-confident. Your body language, tone of voice, passion, posture and mood serves to stimulate the reactive minds of your charges or constituents.

You may have your doubts, but you, as a leader, and a commander-in-chief, do not have the Human luxury of expressing uncertainty, or of hesitation.

Some interesting material follows for sharpening your leadership skill-set.

Douglas E Castle

  • 3 ways to lead more like Ronald Reagan
    Source: YouTube/John Baldoni
    The best leaders -- people like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan -- have more than just star power, writes John Baldoni. They also have earned authority: a tangible confidence and sense of their mastery of a situation that inspires others to follow them and work toward a common goal. "You can't lead another person if you don't believe in yourself," Baldoni writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (7/29)

You may enjoy these links to other sites, as well:




"Man...It's getting awfully hot in here!"
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