Friday, September 14, 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies" interview with Alan Gurvey and Kerri Kasem

Click here to hear my interview

with Alan Gurvey and Kerri Kasem discussing "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies."

If you are interested in listening to this interview, or if you know someone who can benefit from learning about how to address bullies at work or in their personal life,

please either click the respective link to listen to the complete show or download the interview to listen to my session.

It's recorded from 13:00 to 43:00 minutes of the respective show with my name and book cover.

Hope you enjoy it and it is helpful.

Any questions, please contact me.

Thank you for your consideration!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

And now the Light shines on Ohio State Wrestling.

Former Ohio State wrestlers claim Congressman Jim Jordan, (R- Ohio), was complicit in knowing team doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused and assaulted wrestlers. Jordan told Fox News these discussions, where Strauss was called: “Locker-room voyeur,” “Serial groper,” or "Dr. Jelly Paws," were “locker room banter” and " are a lot different than allegations of abuse or – or reported abuse to us." He was a full time assistant coach with years of experience. Not acting against, or reporting, vile behavior because of how it is perceived is a copout. Any reference to sexual abuse must be taken seriously to reveal and terminate it.

A snickering Penn State assistant football coach used the term “Jerry’s kids”, lifting Jerry Lewis’ endearing fund raising title, to label Sandusky’s 2nd Mile participants to make other Penn State staffers chuckle when I coached there in the late 1980’s. In retrospect, his banter likely acknowledged Sandusky’s sexual predation. They all laughed.

Although not aware of Sandusky's sexually abuse during my time there as a grad assistant, the bizarre power dynamics I experienced with Paterno and the staff motivated me to dedicate my career to building thriving organizations with healthy leadership and team practices. My greatest regret was not knowing and stopping Sandusky from tormenting more boys. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I know the toll.

With light shining on another complicit university condoning a physician’s vile conduct, it is a good time to review how all forms of abuse can stop and be transcended. Here’s how.

Organizations allowing abuse share three factors.

Factor 1) They encourage and enable abuse by condoning it. People in charge are aware.

Factor 2) They attract and hire employees predisposed and willing to abuse.

Factor 3) There are no clear rules defining and enforcing appropriate behavior and conduct

Here are some additional factors, also found at Ohio State and Michigan State:

•Domineering behavior: accepted power and control permits perps to break boundaries

•Extreme performance expectations encourage power / control, criticism / fear dynamics

•Excessive competition (in function, tasks, status, or advancement fosters compliance)

•Fear and Trepidation.

•Poor communications – no dialogue or transparency

•Physical versus verbal expression

•Sadistic enjoyment in humiliating talented people

•Perps demonstrate a sociopathic ability to control their own image—the selective ability to appear like a different person to different audiences at different power levels. For example, assaulting kids while being celebrated by officials; kissing up and kicking down!

•Deficiencies in leadership and management behavior


•Lack of clear policies about workplace dignity

At Ohio State with Strauss and with Larry Nassar at Michigan State, officials did not verify with students whether they understood behaviors constituting sexual assault and abuse. These officials ignored and essentially condoned sexual assault and abuse. To clarify,

Sexual Assault, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), is any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the survivor. If all parties involved do not provide an enthusiastic “yes,” there is no consent. If it’s not clear, it’s not consent.

Sexual abuse, adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology, is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.

The first step in tackling organizational abuse, including sexual abuse, is to identify, acknowledge, and admit it exists. The following steps help organizations transcend destructive behaviors. These steps also help victims recover from trauma.

1. Leaders report abuse to credible authorities to stop and address it and then acknowledge how inappropriate behaviors were practiced to learn, change, and enlighten. They separate facts from opinions to debunk false beliefs and appearances while exposing cultural blind spots with transparency and disclosure.

2. Leaders list deceptive beliefs, lies, destructive alliances, hidden and secret problems, narcissism, and cognitive distortions formerly embraced by bad and abusive people as “their way” to maintain power or to satisfy selfish and deviant needs.

3. Leaders list dysfunctional behaviors associated with these distorted beliefs; abusive behaviors accepted as “the way we’ve always done it” or “that’s just the way he/she is” but sick—and, in these cases, illegal
4. Leaders encourage, and make simple a cultural norm to identify, report, address, and stop all abusive practices and related banter / references. They create reputable, trustworthy reporting processes, including easy access to state and federal authorities, where internal reporting may be squashed.

Organized employee boycotts, walkouts, and third-party organizing send shockwaves up abusive management chains. There’s strength in numbers. If leaders don’t act, demand, with one collective voice, abusive people and practices be abolished and replaced with healthy and uplifting leadership.

5. Develop leaders with transparent communication and evaluation processes assuring you will be surrounded, for the most part, by healthy people and leaders who afford you the dignity, respect, efficacy, and rights to life, liberty, and happiness you deserve.

Matt Paknis is a senior management consultant with six years of college football coaching and eight years of playing experience through 5 championship seasons whose focus is on lessening bullying in the workplace. He was a former assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno and has spoken publicly about being abused as a child. Matt transcended childhood bullying and the death of his mother with teamwork and leadership. He has dedicated over twenty-five years of consulting to helping global clients embrace healthy management practices to thrive. His latest book, "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies: How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations," releases this September.

Monday, June 25, 2018

How can I respond?

Suicide is America’s tenth leading cause of death, taking 45,000 lives each year. The crisis was accentuated when public figures killed themselves as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released recent data showing steady increases. This moved me to join another public discussion to determine whether it’s possible to know when someone’s suicidal. If so, and assuming life is the healthiest choice, it’s critical to know how to intervene and help.

Driving while listening to a scene from Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s book about Louis Zamperini, inspired me. A giant, compassionate, Japanese war prison guard protected Zamperini from tortuous guards. He whispered to Louis: “You Christian, I Christian.” As I thought about stopping bullies, an eighteen-wheeler on my right lost control.

It was mid-morning, mid-September. Three packed highway lanes cruised at maximum speed. Brakes pumped and the truck skipped into the service lane. A parked Jeep forced the truck back at me. Everything slowed, but my heart. A boot rolled in front of me. Beyond it rolled a person. Nothing separated us. I parked and yelled, “You ok?”

A young man wearing a new suit and tie lay in front of me, I hoped, alive. His head doused hope. I prayed and covered his disfigurement. Traffic was directed to lanes on both sides of the victim. A 911 operator recorded my report.

A police officer arrived. He said I prevented a pileup. We funneled the traffic to the inner lane (as pictured). More help arrived. He asked if I’d seen anything like this. Never. He claimed the impact sucked the victim from his shoe.

A relative ended her life this way. If our paths crossed prior and they displayed common suicidal signs like withdrawing; giving away possessions; speaking of helplessness or powerlessness or being wronged; acting recklessly and other changes, (Please see I could have intervened and been present; listened without passing judgment or giving advice, sat with them as they dialed a suicide prevention line, or joined them to an emergency room and diverted them from spiraling.

They might envision positive outlooks with hopeful expectations in collaborative communities. When someone is valued and feels empowered to control their destiny, they choose to live.

It was too late to share appropriate responses like: “I’m here for you.” “You’re not alone.” “You are important to me.” “We are here to see one another through.” “When this is over, I’ll be here and so will you.” “I can’t understand your feelings, but I offer my compassion.” “I’m not leaving you.” “You are loved.” “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain.” “I am taking care of myself so you won’t worry your pain may hurt me.”

It was too late to ask them directly about their suicidal thoughts. It’s important to realize it won’t encourage them to act by asking; “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” “Have you ever attempted to kill yourself?” “When you say (fill in the blank), do you mean you’re thinking of killing yourself?” It’s important to not be afraid to be clear and direct.

A distraught man appeared who claimed the victim walked into his moving truck. We spoke. He feared being deported or jailed or worse. We hugged. He was inconsolable; shaking, crying, and stating he loved his family, his job, and America. “By law, he has to submit a blood test,” said the officer. If positive, he’d lose everything. No charges were filed. He kept his job.

The victim was thirty seven with a wife and a baby girl. What triggered this? Mental Illness? Depression? Trauma? Grief? Anger? Pain? Guilt? Shame? Failed expectations? Feeling trapped alone or stuck on an island? Treated poorly? Feeling controlled and powerless?

It was too late for me to share I experienced childhood traumas causing many to end their lives early with accidents, substance abuse, or suicide. Help and Grace saved me and are available to all. Darkness keeps a person from seeing the truth and sensing efficacy with self-awareness.

People learn to be happy. Happy folks are light on themselves. They realize life is short, yet a gift. They contribute to worthy causes, apply their special talents, and make meaningful differences in others. In success or failure, they tend not to overreact.

It was too late for me to share claims from survivors who attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. After jumping or letting go of the rail, they sensed regret and yearned to live! May peace and love Grace you and your family so you may fulfill your reasons for living.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Samaritans Listening Line: 1 (800) 365 – 4044.

These confidential lines provide trained staff and volunteers available around the clock.