Do You Need to Kiss Up to Your Boss?


By Peter Barron Stark | December 10th, 2012 | Leadership

The other day I was asked a question that stopped me in my tracks.

At a seminar, an employee asked me, “Do I need to kiss my boss’ butt? What if I have to choose between kissing up and doing what’s right for the organization?”

This question the employee asked is like an octopus with many tentacles because rather than answering her question with a simple answer, the question prompts more questions.

Before I walk you through the conversation I had with the employee, there’s something you must realize. Employees may not need to kiss their boss’ butt but most employees do find that, to accomplish departmental or organizational goals, it’s important to have a mutually supportive relationship with their boss. Now, this next part is critical for everyone to understand: Statistically, employees who do not have a positive or strong relationship with their boss have less job security than employees who do.

I responded to her question with a question: “What’s your boss asking of you?”

This answer could change everything. If your boss is asking for your support of a change you disagree with such as implementing new technology, then my advice would be to quit complaining and take the lead in helping your boss quickly and successfully implement the change. On the other hand, if your boss is asking you to do something immoral such as collect a bribe from vendors, lie, or treat your employees poorly, then my answer changes. I would never encourage anyone to do something that is morally wrong.

If your boss asks you do something that’s illegal or immoral, you have a few options. You could make the choice to quit your job. It’s certainly a better choice than spending each day complaining and actively undermining your boss. Second, you could involve someone who can get the immoral or illegal directives changed, such as your boss’ boss or the Human Resources Department. Keep in mind that going above your boss is a high wire maneuver. You can guarantee that your boss will not be excited when you go to others with your concerns. If you do go above your boss and your concern is not perceived to be either immoral, illegal, or out of alignment with the company’s values, then your relationship with your boss will only get worse.

The employee said her issue was not one of morality or legality. I then asked her, “Do you need this job?” If you don’t need the job and can quickly find a job somewhere else, then you can take pride in not kissing your boss’ butt and not break a sweat over losing your job. However, in this case, the employee stated that she did need the job, enjoyed working for the organization, and would be devastated if she lost her job. With the goal clearer, my advice was that she go out of her way to ensure that her boss feels supported by significantly contributing to both her boss’ goals and the department’s goals. These behaviors will most likely help her to achieve her personal goal of keeping her job.

Luckily, very few managers ask employees to do something illegal or immoral. However, there are a lot of managers who do things that are not in alignment with their company’s values. Your big challenge before you go to your boss’ boss or Human Resources is to accurately determine what the real issue is that you’re dealing with. An illegal issue? An immoral issue? An issue that is not in alignment with the company’s values? Your correct determination will most likely determine your future with the organization. In the case of the employee I spoke with, it was a software change issue that needed to be completed by the end of the year.

My advice to this particular participant? Quit complaining and make the change happen. If you can’t make that work, quit and find another job where you don’t have to make this software change.

Peter Barron Stark Companies is a nationally recognized management consulting company that specializes in employee engagement surveys, executive coaching, and leadership and employee training. For more information, please visit

3 Reasons to have a Personal Theme this Year

by Mark Miller

The New Year is here. Although the amount of emails may have subsided over the last 2 weeks, the workload is not diminished. We’re back in the trenches. So how do you keep your head up as a leader? How do you maintain your focus and keep the main thing the main thing? One tactic to consider is to have a personal theme for the year.

First, here is a simple definition and a few examples:

A personal theme can be a word or a phase – it’s intent is to capture and reinforce an important message or idea.

Here are a few examples from college football – Mark Richt, coach and the Georgia Bulldogs recently employed the theme: “Finish” to challenge his team to finish the drill in practice, finish the block or the route and finish the game. Chip Kelly the Coach of the Oregon Ducks used the theme: “Win the Day.” This was intended to help keep his team focused on today’s game, not next week’s game.

Last year, my theme was, “Today Matters.” I was trying to strengthen my personal daily disciplines. In 2013, my theme is “Fit.” I certainly want to be “fit” in all areas of my life – but as I enter the new year, I want to be fit to lead. I believe this starts with leading myself well. So, I’m going to allocate incremental time and energy to work on my spiritual growth and physical fitness in 2013.

So, why should you consider establishing a theme for the year?

Read more here:

Innovate Your Day With 8 Minutes Of “Ready, Set, Pause”


by Amy Jo Martin

People spend about 47% of their lives lost in thought, pondering the past and worrying about the future. Stop the cycle and get more productive and efficient by blocking out 8 minutes a day for “ready, set, pause.”

Stress, anxiety, and pressure are no longer fleeting feelings we flirt with while working on a stressful project or stuck in a traffic jam. They have become permanent fixtures in our lives. We have let them creep into our psyche and strangle our well-being. The American Medical Association purports that stress is the basic cause of more than 60 percent of all human illness and disease. They also state that stress is the number one proxy killer disease today. Whether we mean to or not, stress often dominates our thinking and decision-making process. Some may say pressure and stress are motivators. To a certain extent, yes, but at what overall cost? What is the cumulative effect of all this stress, and what is happening to us collectively as a result?

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I know one thing. The world needs a pause, a reset. We can actually improve productivity and boost creativity. It’s as simple as implementing a new take on a familiar phrase that we all learned as children: ready, set, pause.

As founder and CEO of Digital Royalty, I am no stranger to stress, anxiety, and pressure. In fact, they are old friends of mine. One fateful day about a year ago in New York City, I was drowning in meetings. I had 15 of them back to back. Just as I was about to hit my point of over-capacity, yet another meeting popped up. It was an 8-minute meeting put on my calendar by my friend and colleague entitled, “Ready, Set, Pause.” My friend knew about my hectic day and after seeing a little window in my schedule, she encouraged me to put on my headphones and use that 8 minutes to listen to a couple of songs from a Spotify playlist we had created. It’s amazing how little things can make big changes. I took her advice and relaxed as I listened to the music. To my surprise, after the two songs were over I felt calm, energized, and ready to tackle the rest of my day. That quick pause allowed me to release the tension that had been building with each meeting and to take a hiatus from my buddies, stress and anxiety.

From that day on, an 8-minute “Ready, Set, Pause” has held a permanent spot in my daily agenda. This little trick fascinated me so much that my team and I wanted to learn more.

There’s more. Read on here:

Make Things Happen

I’ve worked with managers most of my adult life. I’ve seen some develop, grow, and get promoted. I know of others who remain in their current positions for a long time – and they gripe and whine about it. What’s been the difference between the mover and the occupier managers?

The Mover

Movers live actively (Peter Baron Stark). They look for ways to grow and develop on their own. They read. If there is an opportunity to volunteer at work (i.e. project, initiative team), they step up and lead. I saw this yesterday with a new manager I’m mentoring. A group of sales managers are beginning a new course (Caskey) and the group was broken into 3 small groups for accountability and discussion. This new manager took the lead and was selected in her group as the “accountability captain”. I was very proud! She’s a mover.

Movers lead by producing results. They know what is expected of them and they work hard to not only reach their goals but exceed them. They motivate and lead others to do the same. They like to win and lead others to win.

The Occupier

Occupiers are comfortable. They like the idea of being a boss. They like titles. They don’t mind meetings as long as it doesn’t push them too much.

Occupiers point to the calendar when they want promoted. “I’ve been doing this job for _____ years. I deserve to be moved up,” I’ve heard one person say. They don’t always like developing their team for fear that team member will leave them and then they’ll get “stuck” with a newbie.

Occupiers stay just under the radar when it comes to results. Their performance isn’t always consistent, but they manage to produce enough results to stay out of trouble. They also typically don’t rely on their team to produce results. Many times, they are the primary performer and the team is merely window dressing.

Occupiers might win. They might talk down about the movers as if putting them down will elevate themselves. Winning, too often, turns into whining.

Who are you? If a poll were to be taken at your office today, what kind of manager would you be labeled?

If you’re not where you want to be, guess what? You can create your own future, your own destiny.

Go, Leader, Grow!

Basketball & Business Success

Here is the link to a great interview with Lin Dunn – head coach of the Indianapolis Fever of the WNBA. This Caskey resource is well worth your time to watch and listen. This is part 1 of the interview. Follow the link below to catch the rest of the interview and other great resources that Caskey has to offer.


About Caskey

Who We Are

Over two decades ago, Bill Caskey set out to build a company which focused solely on developing B2B sales and leadership teams. From the start, his number one goal has been to educate customers worldwide.

Today, our team consists of Bill Caskey, Bryan Neale, Brooke Green and Jillian Vanarsdall. We strive not only to increase your sales and improve company leadership, but to help personal and business lives thrive.

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy here at Caskey is quite simple. If you want to change your results, whether it be in sales of leadership, you must change your thinking. Caskey seeks to ignite this change in behavior because only then do companies get results.

Our Mission

Everything we do at Caskey is about expanding thought, inspiring change and transforming lives.

What We Do

Whether you’re someone starting a business or simply looking to improve sales and leadership in your company, we’re here to help identify your company’s problem areas and find solutions. From webinars to group training, Caskey has the resources you need to become a company they’ll remember.

Our work with leaders and sales teams is a combination of:

  1. Sales Training
  2. Leadership Development
  3. Team Alignment
  4. Executive Coaching
  5. Talent Assessment

We educate our customers in many different ways:

  • One-On-One Coaching
  • Group Sales Training
  • Leadership Alignment
  • Speeches
  • 1-2 Day Events
  • Digital Broadcast (podcasts, videos, webinars)
  • Products (physical and digital)

Self Improvement Tips

Here are the top 7 tips for self-improvement. They are general principles that apply to lots of areas of life. Therefore no matter who you are, at least most of these tips should be of use to you.

1. Self-improvement is your responsibility

When we our young, nature and society grow us automatically: our bodies develop under their own automatic schedule, and we are pushed through the school system where we are learning new things every day. But at some point – usually in the 20s for most people – this stops, and we have to take responsibility for our own growth, or we will just stagnate or even deteriorate, mentally and physically.

Once you are an adult, you are not fully-grown, you still have lots of potential. But you’ll only develop it if you decide to.


So my first tip is to acknowledge that it’s important and natural that you should take responsibility for your own self-improvement. A big part of this is figuring out who you are, what you’re passionately interested in, and then actively pursuing this.

2. Understand the 80/20 law

Also called the Pareto principle (after the Italian economist who first described it), this is a general principle that you see cropping up again in nature and society. Basically it states that the majority of the effects are created by a minority of the causes. For example, the minority of books that are launched each year make the majority of the sales (same with music), or in a business, 20% of the customers account for 80% of the sales.

The figures aren’t always exactly 80/20, they may be more like 90/10, or 70/30.

How does this relate to self-improvement? The answer is that there’s probably only a minority of things you do which create the biggest and best effects in your life and a small number of bad habits create the majority of the bad effects. This is good news as it implies that just by adding one or two good habits or removing one or two bad ones you can revolutionize your life.

Tip 2:

Observe yourself and figure out what small changes could have the biggest effects. Things like cutting out smoking, watching TV or drinking sugared soda drinks can have big effects.

Read more at:

Performance Reviews

If your company is like mine, you are in the middle of annual reviews. As a senior manager, I have read hundreds of reviews over the years. Some very good. Some very bad. I’m not talking about the employee’s performance here. I’m talking about how it was written. Do you want to write a more effective review for your employee?

1. If they “need to improve” in an area, rate it accordingly. BUT…you must give examples as to why they earned this rating. What did they specifically do that demonstrates they need to improve? What kind of coaching have you provided over the past year that they perhaps chose not to follow? You can’t just use the canned language that comes with many online review software. That’s not fair to your employee.

2. If they “exceeded” your expectations, again, you need to present why. I’ve read far too many reviews where the manager rated their employees as an exceeds but with zero supporting documentation. This can come across as playing favorites or worse, laziness on the part of the manager. Or the manager is wanting people to know they lead an “exceeds expectations” team – but that falls flat when that same manager receives a “meets” or “needs” on his/her review.

3. Point out past success, recognitions, awards, etc. Any of us like to read/hear about those instances. It was good the first time. It will be good the second time around.

4. If they need to improve, spell out what they need to do to turn their ship around. Explain what how you will also be invested in their development. This will build accountability into your coaching sessions.

5. Give them a goal to stretch for in the future. Plateaus are ok for a bit. But your job is to challenge, develop and stretch your team. Your results will rise if you do.

6. Show them the purpose in their daily work. Make sure they understand that what they do makes a difference. If it doesn’t, should they still be doing it?

Build a strong team. Spend quality time creating and presenting quality reviews. Your team will be the better for it.