A couple of days ago I pointed out that leaders are notorious for skewing numbers to make their work appear healthy, when just the opposite may be true.

But “skewing” (my new made up word), happens in other ways too. Skewing happened to me Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 in my own neighborhood. I had come home from work and decided to catch a run before dinner. I thought a quick loop around the subdivision would do me some good. Enter the skewing.

It happened with a garbage truck. As I ran the loop I found myself being passed by a trash truck from one of the collection services that hauls off the garbage from our neighborhood. Did I mention the temperature was 85 degrees? Nothing like the smell of hot garbage to wake up your lungs after a long day of meetings.

It was very quickly clear that I had picked the wrong direction for my run. But it was my run, and I was determined to do it the way I wanted, garbage or not.

Soon after the pass, the truck stopped and dumped some trash into the truck. As I caught up the smell was overwhelming. The truck rolled forward and I was chasing again. This tortoise and hare exercise continued for several more stops.

Call me stubborn, but I never changed directions. However, something changed on about the third stop. The smell lessened. Actually, that is not true. The smell was the same . . . hot garbage. It was my perception of the smell that changed. My sense of smell had been “skewed.”

The same thing happens to leaders every day, just in a different context. How many times do you walk into a place of business that is not clean, or where an employee is abrasive toward customers? I see it all the time. And yet it has become their reality, and so the poor behavior becomes not only tolerated, but accepted.

In my case, I got used to the smell of the trash. That is not such a big deal when you are running a neighborhood loop. But when you are trying to create an environment for education, business, church, athletic teams, or finance it is a big deal.

Perhaps you have allowed things to become skewed in your environment?

Does the look and feel of your leadership world reflect excellence and simplicity? Are there poor performers, or people with different values and attitudes, who have been allowed to drain your resources when they should have been let go? Do you have systems that once worked, but now are outdated and have lost their effectiveness?

Finally, do you have a process of evaluating things in an attempt to keep things focused and fresh? If not, you will soon find yourself in a bad place. The bad news is, you will not even know it. Why? Because you will have been skewed my friend.


it is time to run your loop in a different direction?




Where are some of the places you have seen leaders become “skewed?”


repost from 4.28.11

Leave a comment

Scott Humphrey

9 years ago

Good one Randy. I’ll never forget driving by a landfill in Ellijay one day and seeing an operator out on a dozer in the middle of the landfill. It was around noon and he had stopped his dozer and opened his lunch pale and was eating his lunch right out in the middle of all of that garbage. It is amazing what we get used to…


9 years ago

Wow. So true Scott! Thanks.

Ryan Gravitt

9 years ago

Often you need an outside set of eyes to show
you where your organization may be “skewed”. Recently we requested a Georgia
Assessment of Performance on School Standards (GAPSS) Analysis. The results of
the GAPSS Analysis inform the development and implementation of school
improvement initiatives. In a nut shell, an experienced group of educators from
other schools come in and evaluate our school using a rubric to show us what
we are doing well and where you need improvement. We will continue to do this
every few years just to make sure that we really are doing what we think we are doing.
I highly recommend this type of evaluation for any organization. And by the
way, I’ve known you for 44 years and yes you can be stubborn. Haha!


9 years ago

Your view might be skewed bro!


9 years ago

Good one.  But as a professional in the waste industry, we always say it smells like money.  Which is why lunch in the middle of the landfill isn’t really that bad, or that operator might not have been skewed.


9 years ago

Great comment BK! All in one’s perspective I guess.

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