The Value of Authenticity

This last April, my husband and I took a trip to Orlando, Florida and had the opportunity of visiting EPCOT theme park, one of 4 Theme Parks at Walt Disney World Resort that  includes the World Showcase.   The World Showcase is an incredible collection of shops, attractions and restaurants that represent the culture and cuisine of 11 countries:  Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada. What I was struck with was how authentic each of these countries were.  Indeed, as we visited each of the countries, people who served us ere actually from that country!  Everything was authentic – the dress, the food, the music, the architecture and the language.  For a few moments, we felt like we were visiting each country (without having to travel there). 

How does this concept apply to our leadership?  Authenticity is one of the most powerful ways that we can build trust as a leader. Think about it.   When you are able to admit your mistakes and honestly share to a fellow team member, you are saying to your team, “You can trust me.”   What can you do today to be a more authentic leader to your team?

Honor our Troops – Armed Forces Day

Did you know that May 19th was Armed Forces Day?  President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.  

Though May 19th has come and gone, here are some practical ways we can support our men and women in the military any day:

  1. http://www.anysoldier.com/  – A great place to start to support a military person.
  2. http://cranfordx.tripod.com/cranfordtroops/id2.html – Lists items that troops need.
  3. http://troopsneedyou.com/ – Become a Battle Buddy by directly supporting a deployed unit or healing warrior here at home. 

Eric Egland (Reserve) authored a book entitled “The Troops Need You, America.”  In this book, he shares a speech made by President Roosevelt who shared on December 9, 1941 these statements, “We are now in this war – we are all in it all the way – Every single man, woman, and child is a partner to the most tremendous undertaking of our American history. We must share together the bad news and the good news, the defeats and the victories…”

Though all of us are not wearing the military uniforms – we are all leaders in our shere of influence and part of leadership is supporting those who sacrifice for others.  We can all share in supporting the many thousands of people who are protecting our freedom and putting themselves in harm’s way so that we can enjoy our freedom. Thank you Military men and women on May 19th and every day!

Show you Care

You’ve heard of the adage, “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”   On this Valentine’s Day, it is a great reminder to ask yourself, “When was the last time I showed my customers, staff members, team members, that I care?”

During a recent three-day supervisory class that I facilitated for Washington state governmental employees, I was impressed with how many leaders talked about the human side of leadership. In the midst of technology, changing priorities, and budget cuts, they recognized how important it was for them to show their team that they cared – about each team member individually and about how each person’s role positively impacted the success of their team.  

On this holiday and throughout the year, here are three practical ways to show you care:

  1. Say thank you –  One of the best ways to show we care is to express our gratitude.  In our instant message society, receiving a handwritten note means a lot.  A sincere thank you – whether written or spoken, tells an employee, “I notice and what you do – matters.”
  2. Acknowledge extra efforts – Think about a team member who always goes above and beyond.   Ideally, all your team members have this kind of attitude and extra commitment but practically speaking, there are some people who just do more than others.  Show you care about that person’s contribution by acknowledging that person’s efforts.  Or how about a former low performing employee who has successfully achieved his or her goals?  Show you care about this person by acknowledging this person’s efforts. 
  3. Recognize all employees – Many times, we can’t do a lot with extra salary or benefits but what we can do is recognize every person’s impact.  Take the time to show you care by making sure team members know their impact to your team’s goals.  

The Power of Asking the Right Questions

James Thurber said “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”  (James Thurber was an American author and cartoonist and was best known for his cartoons and short stories published in The New Yorkermagazine). What a reminder to all of us that it is not necessarily the solutions but the questions that lead to inner discovery, awareness, and change.  Indeed, this same philosophy undergirds my coaching philosophy – every client is seen as a fully capable and whole person with unique insights, dreams, and goals.  My job as a coach is to help that person discover his or her potential by asking powerful questions that can lead to true transformation – and growth.   Here is a sample of some of the kinds of questions that I use in my coaching practice:

  •  What does it mean for you to live in authenticity?
  • What barriers do you anticipate?
  • What is your biggest concern about….
  • What does team mean to you?
  • Of all the things on your list, which one do you want to tackle today?

Beratungsgespräch. Beratung und Gespräch durch Berater.Consider using a question the next time a staff member asks you for help on a problem or issue in the workplace.  Asking a question provides the opportunity for individuals to come up with the answer and they will more likely be bought into implementing the action since they are the ones who came up with the answer!  Coaching your staff in this way also develops them and relieves you of the pressure of finding all the solutions!

Is Management Dead? – Part 10 – Unity in Diversity

In this final installment in our series about the implications of a more collaborative workplace, we focus on what may seem like an apparent contradiction – unity in diversity.  What does this mean?   First, unity means that as an organization, department, or a team – every person needs to clearly identify what goal or mission they are striving towards as a collaborative team.  There needs to be a unified effort or mission to achieve the goals or mission of the team.  Second, but in this unity- there needs to be an honoring of the diversity of the people involved.  Diversity in personalities, skills, talents, backgrounds, experience, education, genders, language, culture, etc.  We are thus all going in the same direction while retaining our own unique talents.  An organization that can successfully do these two things – be clear on the mission as well as invite and honor and celebrate the diversity of talent – is able to effectively thrive in this new type of collaborative workplace.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you currently conduct a diversity class for all your employees?
  • What are you doing to ensure that you are recruiting and interviewing well-qualified people who bring diversity into the workplace?
  • Are all your managers aware of your state and federal regulations as they relate to interview questions, hiring and firing, professional development opportunities, and tuition reimbursement? 

Is Management Dead? – Part 7 – Every worker is an owner

There are numerous examples of corporations that instill the idea that no matter where you work, you own a piece of the corporation.    How would your actions change if you were truly the owner of the organization that you work in?   The Society for Advancement of Consulting, (SAC®) in an article dated 10/1/07, shares their findings after surveying their global membership to find out some key elements that can help companies successfully instill this philosophy in their corporate culture. SAC® member Bill Corbett president of Corbett Business Consulting in Loveland, Colorado made the following observations. “The three most effective practices for making every employee feel and act like an owner are: 1) To treat everyone as an equal, making the assumption that he or she wants the best for the department, division, or company, and is a team player; 2) Implement their excellent ideas as quickly as possible; and 3) Always give credit to the employees for their contributions.”

As you think about your organization, what positive steps can you take to help every staff member feel like an owner?

Is Management Dead? – Part 6 – Being Known

Authentic leadershipIn the article by Peggy Noonan in the August 28-29, 2010 edition of the Wall Street Journal entitled, “We Just Don’t Understand,” Ms Noonan talks about President Obama and the fact that many Americans don’t really “know” President Obama.   In her words, he is “still a mystery to a lot of people,” and this can lead people to question and criticize his leadership.  You may agree or disagree with Ms. Noonan’s perspective but her premise sure has relevance to this new organizational structure where there is more collaboration and communication in the workplace- communication with manager to employee; employee to team, and team to team.  Certainly, the era where people can “hide” behind an office door or their title is nearing an end.  Employees are asked to work with each other – and many teams now include a team evaluation where they can get evaluated by their peers.   With little or sketchy information or knowledge about someone, many of us can find ourselves defaulting to assumptions (read my previous BLOG entry dated 10/8/2010 ) – that may or not be based on reality.   Indeed, a critical component of building trust is this important facet of making yourself known. 

 How do we know one another in the workplace? Here are some ways:

  •  Have every team member take a communication style assessment (read my 9/30/2010 entry)
  • Incorporate a  “getting to know you” 10 minute teambuilding activity in your staff meeting
  • As a manager – share some personal facts (within reason) so that your staff gets to know you better

 One of the fun activities I incorporate in my Diversity class is “Diversity Bingo.” Each participant must get a BINGO based on squares about interesting tidbits of facts, such as how long a person has worked for the company or if they are more detail oriented or people-focused.  Invariably, within 10 minutes of this activity, the class of “strangers” is suddenly transformed to individuals with unique talents, gifts, and experiences. 

So my thought provoking question to you is – do people know you enough to trust you?

Is Management Dead?

A few weeks ago, I read a fascinating article entitled, “The End of Management” by Alan Murray in the August 21-22, 2010 edition of The Wall Street Journal, where the author shares an interesting trend in today’s corporations – the era of institutional management and corporate bureaucracy is becoming a thing of the past.  In today’s fast-moving world, where information is at our finger tips and new technologies have forever transformed business, it is the svelte and nimble enterprises that can draw upon the strengths and talents of a global marketplace.  And it is these same organizations that can create new products and innovations based on the latest consumer and market information.   Indeed, Mr. Murray refers to Futurists  Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams who wrote the book “Wikinomics” who predicted that instead of the traditional corporate structure, we will be in the era of “mass collaboration” – as individuals collaborate with each other to get things done. 

This trend has certainly played itself out with the organizations that I have worked with – as more and more I’m being asked to provide services with the stated goal of “we just need to be able to work better together.” 

In my next 10 BLOG entries, I will share the implications of this trend and how you can better prepare yourself, and your staff members to take advantage of a collaborative workplace.