The top 20 bad leadership traits

The leadership books I have read in the last couple of years mostly focus on the top leadership qualities or traits of great leaders. Some examples are:

  • Personal characters (honesty, integrity, trustworthy, humility, etc.)
  • Clear vision and purpose
  • Strategic thinking
  • Passion for what you do
  • Competence (intellectual and emotional)
  • Openness and risk-taking
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability, admitting mistakes and learning from them
  • Leading by example
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Continued learning and growing
  • Inspiring and empowering
  • Hiring people who are competent

Lately I have been thinking about what makes bad leaders. Just as there are many qualities or traits that make good leaders, there are many qualities or traits that make bad leaders or bad managers.

Here is a list of the top 20 bad leadership traits I came up with. I welcome your additions and comments.

  • Having tunnel vision
  • Micromanaging
  • Being incompetent
  • Being rules oriented and not people oriented
  • Demanding perfection
  • Having fear and doubts regarding employees’ competence
  • Having low self-esteem and confidence
  • Having emotional insecurity and immaturity
  • Making decisions based on emotions
  • Acting as a roadblock between upper managers and employees
  • Acting differently in front of their superiors and subordinates
  • Blaming others for failures and taking credit for successes
  • Showing favoritism
  • Reacting negatively to criticism
  • Making assumptions without fact checking
  • Not willing or not able to change and adapt
  • Not willing to learn and grow
  • Not taking no for an answer
  • Not listening
  • Not caring about how their actions impact others

MnDOT Commissioner’s Reading Corner

My article about MnDOT Commissioner’s Reading Corner (CRC) was published in the Spring 2011 issue of the Special Libraries Association/Minnesota Chapter’s newsletter and posted online.

This article provides some background info about the CRC. Most of my CRC book interview articles have been posted on this blog.

I have been working on this project since 2009. Doing book interviews has become the most interesting part of my job now.

Through my work on CRC and other projects, I got to meet Commissioner Sorel and know him a little bit. All I can say is he is a  great leader – trusting, inspiring and enpowering. He is the best leader I personally know.

Grateful for libraries

A few times a month I take my kids to the local public library to return/check out books. We have done so since they were toddlers. And they both got their own library cards before they could even read themselves.

I enjoy visiting library and I am excited when I find interesting books to read.

Going to library is fun and convenient. 

When I was living in Madison, Wis. and Oak Park, ILL., the local public libraries were within walking distance. I could walk to the libraries and I often did so.

Now living in Woodbury, a newer and suburban city, I can’t walk to the library any more, but it’s still very close. It takes about 5 minutes of driving.

I am so used to visiting libraries, using libraries and working in libraries that I don’t think much of it any more. In fact, I take libraries for granted.

But once in a while, something happens. It makes me pause for a moment and think about how great libraries are and how grateful I am for them.

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with a college classmate living in Beijing. I asked her if she uses public libraries in Beijing. She said no. She has to buy books for her children or borrow books from the library at the German school her kids go to.

I was surprised and wished her answer would be different.

China has changed so much in the last 20-30 years in transportation, infrastructure, education and society in general, but not much has changed in terms of public libraries and the use of public libraries. Libraries in China are not as accessible to the public as it is in the US.

Beijing, the capital of China, has a population of 22.5 million people. It has 24 public libraries including 4 children’s libraries. Among them, the Capital Library is the largest.

The National Library of China is also located in Beijing.

For comparison, let’s take a look at New York, the most populous city in the United States, with a population of 8.1 million in 2010.

New York Public Library is the largest public library in the US and consists of 87 libraries. 

So there are 87 public libraries in New York serving 8.1 million people and 25 public  libraries in Beijing serving 22.5 million people.

Remember Beijing is the capital of China and most likely has more libraries than any other cities in China.

No wonder public libraries are not so acceccible in China. My friend said it’s not worth to use the public library in Beijing. Considering the travel time and cost, it’s cheaper and much more convenient to buy books.

That’s why people in China generally buy their own books instead of borrowing books from the public libraries. Bookstores are very popular and busy. People sometimes stay in  bookstores for hours, not to buy books, but also to read books.

After my phone call with my friend, I felt really grateful for having easy access to public libraries in the US.

National Library of China 

Listing of Public Libraries in China

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A book inspired by the gardens of China

I came from China. My hometown Suzhou is a well known ancient city in China with a history of 2500 years. The city is renowned for its beautiful classical gardens, pagodas, stone bridges and rivers around the city. It is, therefore, a great tourist attraction. The city has been called the “Paradise on Earth” since ancient times and is also known as the “Venice of the East.”

From ancient times to the present, Suzhou gardens have inspired countless poets and writers to write their poems, articles and books. Their beauty and inspiration are timeless.

What a happy surprise for me to find out that someone from Woodbury who lived thousands of miles away from Suzhou, was so inspired by the Suzhou gardens during her first and only trip to Suzhou that she wrote a book on Fengshui titled “Trough the Moon Gate : Five-Element Perspectives on Environmental Energy : the C. L. E. A. R. approach to Fengshui inspired by the gardens of China.” The book was designed by Karen Hollingsworth with artwork by Jeannine Zumbach Ohora.


I first met Caroline Lehman through my column writing for Woodbury Bulletin. I got to know her more after she did a few brown bag presentations at Mn/DOT.

You can read a sample chapter of the book on Caroline Lehman’s website. 

To view some pictures of Suzhou gardens, visit my Facebook page where I posted the pictures I took from my last China trip in 2010 (Humble Administrator’s Garden
and Tiger Hill Garden) and also the following websites:

Feeling down and sad?

Some day when I am feeling down and sad, I try to look for things that are positive and lighten up my mood. If I stop and look, I do find them.

Yesterday I was feeling very down, as I look back, I see clearly several things happened that warmed my heart, brought smile to my face and really brought my mood up again.

The day before yesterday I sent a thank-you note to someone at work for a job well done and I cc’ed his big boss. He emailed me back yesterday to thank me for the nice note. A thank-you note always makes people happy.

I was able to go to a yoga class. I haven’t had time to do yoga lately. It made me feel good to stretch and relax my body and mind.

When I got home from work, my daughter said: “Mom, guess what I got for my MAP math test?” She got 264, a big 18 point jump from her last MAP test. I was happy for her and proud of her.

In the evening I got a phone call from an elderly lady in Woodbury. I recognized her voice. She used to read my columns in Woodbury Bulletin and love my articles. We had lunch together once. She said she meant to send me a Christmas card, but she had health issues and wasn’t able to. She has been thinking of me and missed my columns (I stopped writing for the paper two years ago). When her family got together lately, they still talked about my articles. She apologized for not sending me the Christmas card and for calling me, but I really appreciated her surprising phone call. I needed that encouragement.

Later in the evening I received an email from another former Woodbury Bulletin column  reader whom I got to know a little better and have had more contact. She asked me a Chinese related question. I did some research on the Internet and responded to her question. She is such a kind and gentle person with positive energy and a very appreciative attitude. I love helping her and being in contact with her.

I remember I once received the following message as a forward. It’s a good reminder that things happen for a reason.

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON…It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. Sometimes they die. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. Your need has been answered, and now it is time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON…It is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Walk around the capitol

Here are some photos I took while walking around the Minnesota State Capitol today. It was a gorgeous day with perfect weather for the annual walk.

Blue sky, just right temperature, greenery, blooming trees, monuments on the mall, walkers, kids on field trips, buses … everything looks beautiful.

When we look around and look up instead of always looking down, we will find that God’s beauty is all around us.

I posted about 70 photos on my Facebook

My profile in MARC record

In my professional life as a librarian, I have cataloged thousands of items – books, journals, VHSs, CDs, DVDs, websites and Kindles – on all kinds of subjects.

Biographies? yes, but I have never cataloged a person directly.

Today I read about other librarians’ cataloging of weird things, a couple of them talking about cataloging babies and sending birth announcement on a library catalog card. I thought that was a very creative idea.  

Just for fun, I have created a catalog record for myself.

For people who are not familiar with cataloging and MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging Records) coding, this doesn’t make much sense. But Librarians will understand. 

Hope you get a laugh out of this.

100 0  God.

245 10 Qin Tang / created by God and produced by Faxin Tang and Xuezhen Bian.

246 13  Zhenfang Tang, 1964-1970

250    3rd ed.

260    Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China : The Fourth People’s Hospital, 1964 at 12:55 a.m.–

300    1 child (7 pounds 4 oz) : black hair black eyes ; [18?] cm.

500    Includes body, mind and spirit.

500    Weight and height change over time.

500    Exact birth date not given for security reason.

500    Certain names changed for privacy concern.

500    Sequel to: Guangming Tang and Guangling Tang.

600 10 Tang, Qin, 1964-

600 30 Tang family.

655  4 Child of God.

655  4 Librarians.

655  4 Writers.
655  4 Bloggers.

655  4 Chinese Americans.  

700 1  Tang, Faxing, 1933-

700 1  Bian, Xuezhen, 1934-

700 1  Tang, Guangming, 1957-1958.

700 1 Tang, Guangling, 1961-

700 1  Tang, Andrew.

700 1  Tang, Amy.

785 01 Andy Tang.

785 01 Amy Tang.

856 4


Natural lawn care service recommended

After several days of rain, the dandelions are popping up everywhere in our yard.
Personally, I don’t care if we have dandelions or not. It’s not important for me to have a perfect green, weed-free lawn. But when our yard is the only one in the neighborhood with the yellow flowers, it stands out. I think the yellow flowers look pretty, but I don’t think our neighbors will like that.
My husband got tired of taking care of the weed problem. This year he decided that he is done with it and we need to get someone else to do the job.
So I contacted a few companies to find one who will take over our lawn care/weed control job.
After some comparison shopping, we chose BioLawn in Oakdale, for two reasons – it’s natural lawn care and it’s a good deal.
If you are interested, check this company out.
575 Schommer Dr, Suite B
Hudson, WI 54016
Phone: 1.888.BIOLAWN (1.888.246.5296)
According to its website, BioLawn uses all natural and organic products whenever possible. I like that. I want to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
And I think I also got a good deal.
They offer the first treatment free, up to $69. During this week only, they offer $20 discount for customers if they are willing to start the lawn care program right away without waiting first for the onsite analysis because with the current higher demand, it will take a few days to do that and they don’t want to lose potential customers. And if you prepay for the season, you get 5% off as well.
Our yard is big, almost 12000 square feet. And our regular price per application is $82. Now after the discounts, we pay $243 for 4 treatments, better than the other offers I got.
From the phone contact I had so far with one of the owners and another person who handled the payment, I found them to be very nice.  I felt good about my choice.
At this time, I can’t say anything about their products and end results. But I am very hopeful.
If anyone has any negative experiences with BioLwan, please share in the comments.
In the past, when I recommend any local businesses (I did a couple of times) on this blog, I did so because I really liked their services. And I did not personally benefit from the recommendation in any way.
This time, there is an incentive for me to recommend and refer people to BioLawn. As I was told, they offer a referral reward. If any reader decides to use BioLawn, and tells them that I referred you, I get a referral reward. I just want to be honest and up front with you.
Please know that I won’t recomment the business and refer people to it if I don’t personally believe in its value and if I don’t think it’s a good deal.  

Hot pot dinner

A friend called me Friday afternoon and asked: “Would you like to come to my house this evening and have hot pot dinner together? I just thought about this.”

That’s what we did. My family of four went over to her house after work and had hot pot dinner with her family. The kids played together while we adults sat and talked. 

Hot pot dinners are popular in China, especially in winter. It’s an easy way to get together with friends and have a meal together – no advance cooking is necessary. You only need to prepare some meat and vegetables.

My friend prepared some raw thin slices of beef, fish, shrimps, meatballs made with pork, shrimp and tofu, mushrooms, seaweeds, tofu, and bean thread noodles.

I brought some vegetables – squash, spinach, lettuce, Napa cabbage, Bok Choy and cilantro.

As the dipping sauce, we used soy sauce, sesame paste, chili oil and fermented bean curd.

My friend set two pots filled with boiling broth on the dinner table – one pot with spicy ingredients for adults and another one without for kids. 

With the hot pot, each person dips and cooks his own food in the hot pot briefly or picks whatever he wants from the pot.

Hot pot meals are easy, tasty and convenient. It’s a great way to get together with friends and enjoy a meal and conversation.

We thought it was just past 10 pm when we left my friend’s house, but her clock was running more than an hour behind. When we got home, it was almost midnight.

Time flies by so fast when you enjoy your time with friends.

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One-pot meals

Do you ever feel stressed out by the thought or question – “What’s for dinner?”

What do you do if you have less than an hour to prepare a nutritious and home-cooked meal?

I have a solution for you – one-pot meals.

Lately I have been trying to simplify my family meals during the weekdays. Instead of cooking rice, 2-3 vegetables and a soup separately, then washing several pans and pots every evening, I just make one-pot meals. I cook everything in one pot.

I no longer stir fry vegetables separately every day, instead I add them in one pot along with some meat for the kids.The meat is usually already cooked ahead of time on the weekend. I cook a pot of rice once or twice a week. Basically what I need to do every day is just to wash and cut the vegetables and put everything in a pot. This way I can make a meal in half an hour. 

Cooking Chinese food can be messy for the kitchen. But making one-pot meals is no fuss and no mess.  Cleaning-up is relatively quick and easy. Now I have less plates, bowls, pans and pots to wash.

With my daughter doing swimming three evenings a week that starts before 6 pm, I have less than an hour to cook dinners. One-pot meals are a perfect solution for having a stress-free, home-made meal without spending too much time in the kitchen. They are not only easy, but also tasty.

The following pictures show several one-pot meals I made lately. Please don’t ask me for the recipes, because I don’t use any recipes and I don’t measure anything when I cook. I simply use whatever I have at hand. So I don’t cook the exact same meal twice. Either the ingredients will be different, or the taste will be different.

You can find a lot of one-pot recipes on the Internet if you need some ideas.

  Cauliflower, zucchini, eggs, meatballs, carrots

Tofu, broccoli, carrots, beans, chicken, black mushroom

Rice, potatoes, carrots, peas, corns, chicken

Vegetables and rice