Editor’s Note: 7 rules


My husband, who’s been having some trouble with a manager at work, came home one evening laughing about the sign posted on this man’s office door. It’s titled: “7 rules for kicking ass in life.”

We’ve all seen lists like this. We’ve “liked” them on social media. We’ve forwarded them to others. Maybe we’ve even printed them off and tacked them up ourselves.

The problem here? Said manager’s direct reports have observed he does not, by most standards, “kick ass in life.” So his attempt at motivation has fallen way short. In fact, it’s turned into a complete joke.

Risa Mish, a senior lecturer of management at Cornell’s Johnson School of Management and a former employment law attorney, would say this man has a credibility problem.

Mish, who gave the keynote talk at the National Association of Landscape Professionals Leaders Forum in Los Cabos, Mexico, in late February, says you gain credibility by being trusted, having relevant experience and being knowledgeable. About 100 landscape professionals attended the conference.

When you’re not credible, you can’t be influential and, in turn, you lack the ability to be a good leader.

Effective leaders know their own strengths and, most importantly, know—and live by—their core values, Mish says.

To be a good boss and an authentic leader, use these criteria to narrow down your core values to your top three: They must be something you cherish, you’ve chosen for yourself, you act upon and you’ve sacrificed for.

She emphasized it’s important to identify just a few you can own and consistently act upon.

“If you declare too many values, you’ll end up a hypocrite. And people don’t trust hypocrites,” she says.

Again, it’s all about credibility. People can just tell when you’re not authentic, Mish says, and it undermines everything you do.

Which brings me back to my husband’s manager. If you’re like me, you’re pretty curious about the “7 rules” on this guy’s list. Here they are:

  • See failure as a beginning, not an end.
  • If you don’t go after it, you won’t have it.
  • Always do more than is expected of you.
  • Teach others what you know.
  • Assume nothing and question everything.
  • Make peace with the past, or you’ll pay for it.
  • Stop thinking so much and start acting.
  • Never compare yourself to others.

Not bad, right? All good advice anyone would be smart to follow. But there’s one more credibility problem with this list of “7” things. It contains eight items.

Marisa Palmieri

Marisa Palmieri

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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