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I follow some individuals whom I consider to be influencers; those who with their ideas and opinions are able to compel me to inspiration, to transform, grow and change.

As an influencer, my role is not to impose change, but to invite transformation and the discovery of those “ah ha” moments in my team members by providing the guide of thoughtful reflection and destination. We are creations of our words, thoughts and actions and are constantly open to the influence of others. 

In order to positively influence change the ground work or foundation needs to be defined.  Ask some questions.  What’s working for our team?  What are we doing that is making us successful? How could we get better at....and how? Looking around from our team winner's circle, what next? Then inspire transformation into greater than we currently are by sharing vision and thought.

Influencing is the ability to take what is present and inspire some fantastic change if done right, taking ideas and creativity to your team. 

The power of influencing transformation is a gift. 


 
 
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The importance of the team huddle, the sharing of how the play is to be run is something we have recognized not only in sports (Go Seahawks!) but in our corporate worlds as well. 

It’s not a discussion forum, it’s about the leader coach sending in the direction or play, the manager / quarterback reiterates it, the team hears the play and scatters to make it happen with a clap or a team cheer demonstrating unity.

The huddle is necessary to share vision and provide direction to reach the goal.  Within the huddle, roles are defined and responsibility made clear, and it is an opportunity for team members to share success and challenges.  Corporate huddle time can be used to recognize and engage the team, but too often we fall into the trap of talking at the team instead of talking with the team through effective communication. 

1.       Make huddles part of your culture with regularity

2.       Preparation is essential to ensure your message is clear – what is the purpose, the direction, the play your team needs to make to be successful  

3.       Keep it interesting – don’t sacrifice spontaneity for the ease of regurgitating  information the team can find elsewhere - watch out for the signs it is turning into a template for just another staff meeting

4.       Share the huddle floor with your leadership team – there are many coaches in an effective team  

5.       Send your team away from the huddle engaged. It‘s all about unity in action!

The environment of the huddle is important in order to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness, and in this world of telecommunication and media sources, the opportunities are endless.  Be innovative and keep your huddles fresh with guest speakers and topics that help grow and support the vision – the team play.

Remember that huddles are all about reinforcing shared values, culture and goals.  Have fun and build your huddles!  Go Seahawks! 


 
 
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You are being criticized.  In fact, the reviewer has absolutely nothing good to say about you even with input from all other sources. It happens, and you are hurt and mad.  What is based on a single person’s perception can have long-term and irreparable effects on your leadership journey in the organization.  

How do you react to this?  By trying to justify and show tangible results of the projects you lead, and the work you do? You can try, but the reality is that you will inevitably end up wearing the cone of shame around your neck for the next year or so as your leadership is brought into doubt by someone who happens to have the power to send out the ripple effect of this far and wide. 

 Do you react by arguing and trying to change the outcome? By walking away from the situation you feel you have no control over? It’s a damned hard place to be in, and one most of us encounter at one time or another in our long leadership journey.   

When we were out on a hike one balmy mosquito filled summer day, Ben, our big black lab, did the Olympic time winning sprint to the lake, dove in, and cut his foot on a piece of glass some moron had thrown in the water. It didn't slow him down because if you know labs, the only thing that slows them down is a big dose of anesthetic and even that is temporary.

We wrapped his foot and he proudly tore off the wrapping and brought it to us; we put big Band-Aids on it and he danced a crazy hilarious dance until he chewed them off and promptly swallowed them.  So, it was back to the city and to the vet.  A  few stitches and we were good to go.  Except for the cone. The vet said most dogs don't mind it and it will allow the wound to heal properly. Oh yeah.  We got home and it was like a tornado banging through the house.  Doorways are ample width to allow a cone wearing dog through, but he managed to literally bounce off doorways and walls.  Small tables were sacrificed and bowled over like ten pins.

Ah, the cone of shame.  We can take note from Ben.  He shows us how to proudly wear the cone and some handy little tricks. Like the skill of standing on your shiny black tip toe nails, balancing the cone on the toilet seat and stretching, really stretching your neck to get a good drink of fresh flushed toilet water. Oh yeah, rocking it out with the cone.

Chew off the bandages of the wounds from encounters you have no control over. Tear off the wrappings of hearing opinions you cannot change and have to live with. Bounce the cone around your neck hitting the walls of meetings, of projects and conversations.  Then move into the acceptance (with some grief) stage. This does not mean to acquiesce and accept what is ever wrong, or unfair criticism, but to move on past it and acknowledge what you simply will never be able to change. The very hard part, but it is an essential part of being a leader for your teams being able to move forward and realize that sometimes you just need to eat the Brussels sprouts even when you hate them, and file the letters and conversations away.

It’s not so bad.  In fact, stretch and see how you can balance your cone on the edges of the corporate toilet seats in order to get the fresh water.  Might be some marks on the walls where you test your cone and that’s part of the process. Pay close attention to the tricks you can learn and the motivation you can find even while wearing the cone of shame. It’s there. Remember, the cone is temporary and is prescribed as part of the healing process.


 
 
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This is a photo of Jasmine soaking up some late fall sun with her sharp- eared shadow. In asking a class of future leaders to caption this photo, I heard everything from “wolf dog” to “bat dog” to “quiet fearsome”  to “aloof in the sun”. One caption was “I can’t hear you”.

This was all based on perception of Jasmine and her shadow and perhaps the students' past experience with dogs.  All the factors that lead us to make decisions based on information at hand. 

I asked them now to think about what kind of leadership shadow they wanted to have and the importance of recognizing how others see you and your shadow. The shadow you leave as you walk away from any situation, conversation, or incident.

The point is, nearly all of them gave attributes of some sort of assertiveness to Jasmine because of her pointy, alert ears.  Had her ears been folded down, it may have been a different story. It was the shadow she cast at that time and moment lending to judgements, prejudice, and opinions.

Be aware of the shadow you cast with your actions and words.  Shadows follow us around are and open to interpretation.

The reality is that Jasmine is a lurcher, very, very timid and somewhat of a cat-dog.  Very quiet and shy. And she casts a cool shadow.    


 
 
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There are times when change is going to happen as they say, come hell or high water. It can be planned or it can come at you like the tsunami surprising you from an earthquake you didn't even know took place. And change can be a big ball of yarn scary thing.

I put two balls of beautiful lavender blue hand spun wool in a basket by the couch for a scarf I intended to knit. That same night, Ben acted up, barking at the living room, wouldn't go in it, was just being 105 lbs. of black lab crazy.  The novelty of his craziness wore off quickly (ask any lab people and they can tell you of what I speak....) and I tried to find what was wrong. 

As I walked around the room, he followed me and went crazy barking at the yarn.  I laughed and picked it up to show him.  For some reason it was a big yarn monster to him. It terrified him! 

I decided it was funny, and discounting his fear, left the yarn out and ignored it for the next two days thinking he would get over it. He didn't, and continued to tell me about the yarn monster, going so far as to show me by barking and stalking it every time I went into the room where it lived.  I finally changed his perspective, and took the scary part away by simply moving the yarn to a table.  Suddenly the power to intimidate and cause fear left the wool and Ben reclaimed the room as his own, snoozing in the sun on the carpet.  

Change is personal.  Yarn monsters are personal, too. They have the power to scare us and intimate unless we can change our perspective on the events, the cause, and the outcome.  And, as I sit here with my big ball of yarn scary letter, I wonder what the change needs to be.


 
 
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Indecision is like being trapped in a hamster ball, rolling around on the carpet, banging into furniture legs while those around you just shake their heads and wonder what you are up to. 

What's worse is letting indecision spin you into making knee-jerk decisions just to get out of the hamster ball.  If you don't look at the situation, assess it and manage it right, you are left with just a lot of fur on the carpet. 

We all have times when we go back and forth, should I, shouldn't I, what if, what if I don't, and so forth.  Were we run into trouble as leaders is when we let the cloud of indecision decide for us and basically go with the loudest, the easiest, the short term gratification solution.  Now you're left with more decisions to make.