Don't Be A Mole!

"In shallow holes moles make fools of dragons" - Ancient Proverb

Photo Courtesy of Vapour Trail at

If there's one garden pest that I hate it's MOLES! They are like sneaky little dirty agents as they scour my garden looking to infiltrate and destroy my yard. They are destructive and hard to find. They have deceptive tunnels and seem to know when a mole trap has been gently placed. They are everywhere, yet nowhere......

I especially remember cursing moles one mild winter about 3 years ago. Once the thin layer of snow melted on my side yard, I was flabbergasted and then outraged. There had to be at least 50 mounds of dirt volcanoes in the yard (yes, I counted them!).  It looked like small torpedoes had blown up in random patterns. It took hours to haul away the mounds and flatten the lawn to reseed. Some of the mounds even reappeared. My eyes were red with anger.

Mole are ugly little carnivores that love to eat underground bugs and worms. They love worms, grubs, larvae, and centipedes. They live completely underground and tunnel at will with their strong front claws. Mole tunnels look like a swelled track of dirt or grass. The dirt mounds that they created are often up to 5 inches high. They have poor eyesight (who needs it underground?) but excellent hearing and smell. A mole can dig out of sight in 10 seconds and can tunnel 1 foot in 3 minutes! It can fly through existing tunnels at 80 feet per minute while eating 40 pounds of bugs a year. Yuck!

Moles love soft, sandy soil. Hence, they love my yard and all of my grubs and earthworms. Every time that I dig or plant, a mole hill appears within hours. I never get a thanks from them for making their bug hunt easier. It's impossible to drive the moles into my neighbor's yard because we are in the country and the moles all come in to party from the fields. If you live in suburbia, there are ways to drive moles out of your yard and into your least favorite neighbor's yard. In fact, I encourage it!

Clearly, moles don't know the havoc that they cause. They don't know that their unsightly mounds cause grief and work up top. They don't mind that their obsessive tunneling could break an ankle if humans walk over their raised work. They certainly didn't care about the time that I thought I was stomping on a mole hole and it was an underground bee hive! They keep their heads down in the dark earth and go about their travels without popping up to see what is going on. Sound like any humans that you know?

"I always say, if you keep your head in the sand, you don't know where the kick is coming from" - Herbie Man

Too many people wander through life (and the hallways at your job!) ignoring what is going on around them and oblivious to the needs of others. They are the "mole". They take what they want, they follow their own path, and they prefer to stay "underground". What's worse is when this person is in a leadership position where she plugs along hoping not to make any waves that upset her position. She needs to maintain the status quo. That won't work for long. When these "moles" eventually surface, even a tiny bit, the dirt will fly! Be on the lookout for "moles" in your teams. Trap and remove in order to keep your team synergy and leadership above ground.

You may be a "Mole" if:
  • You hide your head and look for the easy way to success or out of a situation (or work!).
  • Burying yourself in your work is a great "leadership skill". You are busy because you are the boss. It's easy not to have to find any EQ to deal with people or issues.
  • Moles fear that they will loose their power or position. They ignore what they don't want to see.
  • You are incompetent or "over your head" in your position.
  • Moles lack confidence. They somehow dug themselves into a spot and won't budge.
  • You don't want to know what is going on around you. Your way is the only way anyway.
  • Ignorance is bliss. Hiding your head means no change, no issues, no trouble.
  • Moles don't want to see or hear any information that doesn't jive with their beliefs or views.
  • You have no plan or strategy and don't want your people to know the truth. Keeping your head down is your top priority.
  • Moles don't like conflict or dealing with problems. They want everyone to fend for themselves and won't lead on problems.
  • You have always tunneled your way to success - why change now? There's no need. Your way works.

Hopefully, you don't see any of these traits in yourself. If you do, you have a big hole that you need to start to climb out of. Get the dirt out of your eyes and take notice of what is going on around you. Take notice of your coworkers and teams. You need to "amend" your ways and change if you want to become an effective leader. Staying underground is not a leadership strategy or option.
Unfortunately, human "moles" aren't as easy to deter or get rid of as your yard moles. It's also not legal. What is the best way to rid your yard of moles? There are a lot of opinions on this. Some people have had success with  using organic methods such as powdered hot pepper in mole tunnels, castor oil, odd concoctions, NOT gas in tunnels, trying to pitch fork them, or using commercial poisons.

Hands down the best method to rid your yard of moles is a metal mole trap. Beware that these traps kill moles by stabbing or crushing them. There are no humane practices when it comes to a mole. Placing a trap in a tunnel from the top of the soil will kill a mole - if you have it in a live tunnel. You can find an active tunnel by gently pushing the raised soil with your foot. Check it the next day. If the tunnel is raised again, you have a live one. Get that trap out and happy hunting!

If you ARE a  "human mole", what are YOU going to do to change and dig your way out of your black tunnel?

To Lead With Or Without Tears?

"We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear" - Martin Luther King, Jr

Photo via Giovanni John Orlando from Compfight
Although Spring arrived this week, in many areas you would never know it! In Michigan, Detroit had more than 90 inches of snow and had 27 days below 0 degrees. Our Great Lakes had 92% ice coverage ( no small lake - 94,250 sq miles). Too many cold records were set and at some point all that snow and ice will melt. The time has come and the Southern Great Lakes are expected to experience some heavy flooding. USA Today.

Unfortunately, floods may be a hot topic in many areas around the country this Spring. Spring rains have increased in the past decade except out West where they really need some rain.The unprecedented snow volume will melt - too quickly - and the water will flow out of bounds. In the Midwest we normally have thaws throughout the season to melt some of our snow. That didn't happen this Winter and we have 15 foot snow piles in some areas. Ice jams will be the biggest problem when everything melts at once. The snow has an unusually high water content in it this year and with soggy ground, it will have nowhere to go. In some areas the water is already a soaked sponge and the ground just can't keep up. Once the Spring rains hit, the flood threat will be amplified. Floods aren't just a threat to our homes and infrastructure. They can have long term effects on our ecosystem and food production. The tears of Spring can bring a flood of problems.
  • Well water can become contaminated and affected
  • Fields will flood and some crops planted last Fall will wash away (Winter Wheat, Hay)
  • Orchards may flood damaging fruit trees
  • Beneficial nutrients like Nitrogen will be washed away in the soil
  • Sandy soils will run like rivers collecting all in one area
  • Plants/shrubs/trees are already stressed by a rough winter and may be further weakened and die by heavy flooding
  • Tress with shallow roots will fall damaging homes and property
  • The lack of drainage in clay soils can be catastrophic
Flooding can happen so unexpectedly. We may not have time to plan or react in the way that we hope to. We have floods in business too - TEARS...........They creep up on us or flow out of nowhere. Often, too many of us don't know how to handle our own tears or those of our teams. Tears make everyone uncomfortable. How do YOU feel about tears?

In her book "Bossypants" Tina Fey said that "Some people say 'never let them see you cry', I say if you're so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone". For the most part I think people feel that tears are a sign of weakness or a form of manipulation. Not so fast. I hope that times are finally changing as we enter the age of "Emotional IQ" and we want our leaders to be more human while connecting through emotions. We want our teams to do the same. Tears are what make us human and help us to connect. They have their place as long as they are genuine and shown in an appropriate situation NOT being used to get our own way.

Years ago I the small company that I worked for was bought out. It was an ugly merger from our side. Over 100 people were losing their jobs including one of our senior leaders. I will never forget the day that he was talking to a few of us about the merger. He had tears in his eyes as he talked about all the opportunities for us that were ahead and the growth that we would be a part of. His emotion was raw and his tears were a strength. Although he was losing his job, he was concerned for us and genuinely pleased that we had jobs and some great opportunities ahead. Those were tears of strength and true emotion. I admired him even more that day. His tears encouraged me to make the best of our situation and to make him proud.

I think that we are finally moving forward in business because leaders are finally acknowledging the existence of, and place for, Emotional IQ. We can't just shut off our emotions at 7:30 am when we arrive at work only to turn them back on when we arrive home. We are  human and shouldn't have shame in showing our emotions. Tears, grief, frustration, happiness,and joy make us who we are. We want to work with people who care and share their emotions. We want people to understand us and to empathize.

Grow your leadership through your emotions
  • Don't fear opening up. Let people see and experience your feelings. Use the words "I feel"
  • Tears make you human. Be who you are. Don't be so scared of what others think of you
  • Tears aren't a sign of weakness - they allow us to be candid and authentic
  • Work on being comfortable with emotion. Rely on emotional strength and control
  • Study some of our greatest leaders. They lead with strength and emotion. They self regulate and know how to connect with others on an emotional level
  • Showing authentic emotions validates that you are approachable
  • People will drop everything and follow a leader who understand them and has conviction
  • Emotions say far more than words
  • What's so horrible about letting your guard down once in awhile? Your people know that you aren't always in control. Be real and acknowledge it!
  • Bring your entire self to work and don't hide behind a fake or emotionless face
  • Natural tears have their place. Tears show that it's OK for your teams to show emotion
  • Tears help open dialogue and show who we are and what we care about
  • Tears can help reinforce peer relationships  and strengthen bonds
  • Tears may bring issues up to the surface and issues can be addressed

Now, obviously we don't all want to walk around with our heart on our sleeves and bawling at every little thing. What I am saying is that tears can have their place in our work lives. I'm also vehemently encouraging both men AND women to be authentic in sharing emotion through leadership. Some male leaders refuse to show their true emotions for fear of being "weak". Some female leaders go to the opposite extreme with their emotions and are labeled a "cold bitch". What I am advocating is that we act like what we are - human. Be authentic. Share your true emotions. Don't pretend that you don't care or aren't fully and emotionally engaged. You will push people away. You won't form true and strong relationships. People follow people who are like them or those that they look up to. You are human. Show it.

I have been encouraged in the past few years with more leaders showing their emotions and tears. Some politicians and business leaders have been very forthright with their emotions and I admire them. John Boehner cried after winning. Some of our past presidents have cried. The Pope has cried. I just saw Jimmy Carter with tears this morning talking about making a difference. Are they faking it? Probably not. It's a risk showing your emotions and a gamble more of us need to make.

Are you willing to be human and risk leading with tears once in awhile?

Photo courtesy of Franco Folini via Compfight