As leaders we inspire others. At least we hope to as we work hard to mentor, coach, engage, and lead others to success.
Today I want to talk about the toll this can take when the work environment is one of corporate uncertainty and talk turns to "well, worst case scenario". These are times of peaks and valleys in any corporate world and here we are leading our teams to be productive and engaged through it all.How do I maintain inspiration and the ability to be inspiring within the sense of impending change and doom being broadcast that may or may not descend upon us like a sticky black cloud of goo?
Oh yeah, I remember....I'm taking care of me and my dreams. Stepping away from the corporate laptop before opening it every day determines and defines me. A colleague commented recently "I hope there is no cell service there so I can relax". Turn it off! Take some control of you. Blocking off calendar time. Personal development and personal enrichment. A couple of events that I do for me;PechaKucha 20x20
- a very fun event that I participate in with a local group. Welcoming, friendly, and personally inspiring. Have a look at my recent fun with it talking about corporate travel:http://www.pechakucha.org/cities/prince-george/presentations/dead-frog-in-the-rental-carWillamette Writer's Conference
- The event was fantastic! So much inspirational sharing, learning, encouragement! No boundaries - just inspiration and dreams galore.
These two events are examples of what I do for my inspiration. Oh yeah! And it transpires to my teams as I am "doing" in order to follow my dreams.
Find the stories and the magic in our today through taking care of ourselves, our hearts, souls and inspirations and it will build our tomorrows into something positive for our teams and ourselves. Calm down.
Mentoring is connecting with an outstanding person who doesn't need you to like them, who can have situation specific conversations with you with in support of your goals without compromising integrity.
Do you remember having someone who believed in you? Someone who stood by you with support and candor? Being a mentor is being that person for someone else.
Self-indulgence is not the object of a mentoring partnership and humility is the quality to look for in a mentor. This levels the relationship and puts mentors and mentees on the path to shared discovery.
An impulse of new mentors is to help too much hinders the growth of the mentee. A little struggle is a good thing and a reality. Likewise, championing your mentee above others, creating artificial opportunities will build a shaky foundation for the mentee in the long run.
Realism, trust and truth are the cornerstones of the a solid mentor and mentee partnership. Looking at challenges and opportunities together in this way support reaching goals. A mentee reached out for guidance, support and candid feedback to facilitate positive growth. As a mentor, if you promote and praise less than stellar work; if you cannot be truthful with empathy and compassion, you do your mentee a huge disservice. They may step ahead and over others with this, but in the end the building blocks they missed will pull out like Jenga blocks that tip the structure over.
So, to do it right? Create a partnership with goals, trust and candor. Be the mentor who shares the path of self discovery and improvement both by teaching and by learning from your mentee. Be the one you remember who made the difference in your career. And pay it forward.
I had a reality check this week; the kind that makes you sit back and say "yeah, I get it - I got it".
It all started with communication and tentatively finding some common ground in the stepping stones to building a collaborative work relationship. We shared some of what defines us outside of the work cubicle.
So often our dreams include the hurrying up and getting out of here - the looking for the next big thing that all too often colors our here-and-now with discontent.
My colleague shared with me his dream of coming to Canada. And he shared some of the challenges to be faced as an immigrant in a new country. A lot of the challenges. And he said "it's all about living the dream, and I am living my dream. I am here."
And here is where we talk about perspective. I loved the perspective my colleague has in saying he is living his dream right now. What really are your dreams? Are you so sure they are over the horizon in the far off future, the "when I get this, when I get that, when I achieve??" Maybe we are really living the stages of our dreams right now.
Happy living your dreams. And thanks, Noel.
Our electronic world aside, I still keep a notebook. It's full of plans, notes, project notes, and musings. As I move towards the back of the notebook, the front pages become soft and worn. The bookmarked pages, sometimes taped together to last.
Everything in the notebook speaks to a story of what is and has been.
Now it's time to move into a new notebook and with it comes the fresh, crisp pages of promise and new opportunities. Fresh start. Reset. Let's see what is written in the new stories!
As leaders we are in the position of giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis. It should not be relegated to a twice-yearly or yearly event only to be performed when the "do it now" notation comes out.
Feedback should not be given or received with angst, dread or anger and yet it often is. The main causes of this are:
- Feedback speaks for others as in “they don't like you, they feel uncomfortable around you ". This isn't effective feedback and leads to alienation. If specific behaviors are not identified and this generalization is used as feedback, it leads to a type of sanctioned discrimination which is not where any of us want to go.
- Feedback contains an implied threat. This is when it is implied that someone's job is in jeopardy and doesn't reinforce good behavior or illustrate bad behavior. It simply creates animosity.
These are pitfalls in feedback that we just plain want to avoid. How on earth could this be constructive? It can't be. And it speaks to some dandy organizational problems.
So, how to do it right? Trust and respect. Feedback should not be in judgemental terms and yet is often is. For example, “leadership just doesn't like you" - whoa! Need to take a step back and look at that. You are sending a strong message that whatever has been accomplished (or ever will be)is diminished in the eyes of leadership. That is a harsh reality for an employee to handle. And it leads to bookmarking job hunting sites to say the least, to leave a futile work relationship.
Meanwhile, you will have lost the value that the employee brought. Feedback, like discipline should be constructive and corrective. It needs to be based on solid performance and and not lead to what becomes a personal attack. The energy spent defending this type of attack defeats any hope of a useful feedback conversation.
After all, if you only want to work with dancing poodles, and you can't see the value in sight hounds and retrievers, only hire dancing poodles and be upfront about it to start with. Build your feedback to foster trust and respect, and make it real.
In an attempt to be a helpful house guest, I folded my sister's bath towels warm from dryer and stacked them on top for her. She looked at them, and as only a sister can do, said "you did it wrong, you folded them wrong - they won't fit in my shelves that way."
Not perhaps the most diplomatic critic of my towel folding, but it did make me realize that I always fold bath towels the very same way, almost automatically.
Learning to adapt your leadership style is a lot like folding bath towels. Your style needs to fit the shelf. And shelves come in different sizes.
Your skills, tools and techniques to respond to both opportunities and issues need to be flexible to produce a positive outcome. Just because you have been a successful leader and "this has always worked" is closing your eyes to changes that require you to adapt and this mindset will see you facing roadblocks.
- Use Participative Leadership - Encouraging participation in decision - making and planning produce an empowered atmosphere for employees
- Use Transformational Leadership - Handle change, acknowledging and building on creativity to resolve issues. Give your employees a clear vision, actions and objectives
- Use Transactional Leadership - Establish focus and establish routine to produce results
A simple reminder that as the situations and shelf size changes, we need to be adaptable in both how we lead our teams and how we fold our bath towels.
A colleague of mine used to look at me when I asked a question on the periphery of the topic and say "what's the matter, Blondie, see a shiny thing?"
As a matter of fact, yes. Yes, I looked outside of the problem, issue, topic and found a shiny thing. I found an idea, a suggestion, a distraction from the circular thinking we were trapped within.
Those shiny thing moments can bring about harmful distraction, but can also open our eyes to innovation. It's all about the focus.
I love sending the "shiny things" proposals to my leader with a hey, take a look at this idea, this solution, this business case. Having a leader who understands that ideas and discussion - shiny things can help us build success to grow our business, and being empowered to appreciate and share shiny things I see......priceless.
I participate in Pecha Kucha events to challenge myself. It is a fun, fast paced dance through telling a story in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Also called 20x20, the presentation format is to get your message across with 20 slides/visuals timed for 20 seconds each.
Try it!! You will start with a long involved story and shave it down over and over again to fit the format. The trick is to hit the points you wish to make without all the ums, ahs, and fluff that we put into our speech. Without all the long-winded circular explanations causing the audience to drift into thoughts of "blue, yeah, I'll paint the porch blue".
How often we sit through mind-numbing meetings, listening to updates worthy of 3 sentences that take 35 minutes to spew out? How often we talk for the sake of hearing our own voices drone on and on, not noticing that the audience is off in la la land?
Pecha Kucha is a tribute to the art of concise speaking. I don't avocate changing our meeting formats to be 20 X 20's, but there are certainly points to be taken from the premise behind it. You would be amazed at how much you can say in a short time if you are prepared and aware of your story. Try it, your meeting attendees with thank you.
I have a colleague and good friend who is inspiring with his contagious enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for life built on his choice to look at the positive. He is a great leader of his teams.
We had a reconnection phone call yesterday to catch up on our adventures in the past year and to make some plans to share our leadership motivational excitement with others. If nothing else, we take great delight in planning and dreaming, and there is some therapeutic value in that alone.
We talked about challenges and setbacks, failures and successes. We talked about the grounding effect of having solid plans and bouncing back, getting up when you fall or when others inadvertently trip you.
And he said "Yes, it is a new season, time to push the reset button on some subjects, and other things need the refresh button pushed. That is where wisdom comes in knowing which buttons to push."
This is a reminder to stop and acknowledge the success of your team before you move on to the next challenge in never ending task list. It is a great opportunity to build your personal leadership brand (the way others perceive, thank and feel about you as a leader), and inspire your team on to even greater success. Tie this in with the corporate vision of celebrating success and you create a strong image and reputation for not only driving for success, but celebrating the wins it brings to the company.
10 reasons to celebrate wins:
- Reminds you of the goal and the rationale behind it
- Reminds you that the process to achieve goals works
- Provides motivation to continue to deliver results
- Unifies the team around the success and positive outcome
- Reminds your team that they are working for a “cool” winning organization
- Reminds you of the opportunity to focus on positive rather than negative
- Builds momentum
- Takes a step away from the daily grind with a “high five”
- Allows a positive connection with team and colleagues
- Allows recognition and reward for group and individuals
Don’t underestimate the profound effect of a “well done!” or a “you rock!” in building your leadership brand and the motivation that this recognition brings to your team. You might be wearing the gun belt that shows the notches of success that the organization sees, but you didn’t get it without the hard work of your team.