Thursday, August 30, 2018

Energized

Most of us love to feel energized.  We get that feeling naturally from accomplishing something important to us (in big things or little).  We are energized, too, when someone else notices said accomplishments.

The wisest leaders I know have a way of energizing others.  They engage in some simple moves, authentically delivered.  Here they be:

  • They notice the good work of others (no matter how insignificant).
  • They acknowledge that good work (always personally, sometimes publicly).
  • They deferentially request the help/counsel of others.
  • They ask really good questions, then LISTEN carefully to the answers.

The by-product of energizing others is that we get to know them better, and we advance our own learning by a mile.  

And, it costs little more than a few minutes of our time.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

FlexiblyRigid

Inertia and mediocrity are the result of indecisiveness and low commitment.  (Almost sounds like a definition of bureaucracy, huh?).

Our non-negotiable tenets (i.e., values, beliefs) anchor us to that which is "important."  We must be rigid in our commitment to those anchors.

The day-to-day deployments - schedules, strategies, processes, habits - should always be focused on that big picture vision of "where we're going."  Yet, they must be malleable, adaptable, modifiable, always subject to improvisation.  The deployments are most energetically achieved when there is flexibility built in (and freely allowed, even encouraged).

Rigid in the commitment to our vision.  Flexible in the deployments that move us forward.

Flexible rigidity is not an oxymoron.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

PathSmoothing

When doing complex and/or innovative work, we find the path littered with barriers and blockers.  Those impediments come in all shapes and sizes, at every level of pay grade, and wrapped in all manner of socio-political interests.

So, how do we get "permission" (or forgiveness, if that is the eventual need) for our bold and edgy work?  

Some ideas for the consideration of trailblazers:
> Stay relentlessly focused on pursuing the BIG PICTURE vision of the organization.  The boss(es) are usually focused on the same thing.
> Develop positive relationships top to bottom, from the CEO down to the temps.
> Avoid entanglement in political struggles (and yes, there are always political struggles).
> Dose out innovative ideas/implementations in small bites.  Not only are the more cautious among us generally risk averse, they abhor tsunamic craziness.
> Keep sharing/publicizing the small and incremental wins (stories usually play better than spreadsheets).
> Addictively thank/praise others, no matter how small their contributions.
> Be PLEASANT.  Niceness is a virtue; meanness almost always boomerangs.  

Happy jungle hacking...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Shiftless


Leadership is about growing - growing ourselves and growing others.  

Wise leaders know that growing intentionally is always better than growing accidentally.  

Dan Rockwell is one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of leadership.  In his blog of September 4, 2014, DR captures some of the shifts in my own growing over the years.  HERE is the link to his complete blog post.  The most compelling element from that piece I have captured in shaded text below.

If we're not growing, we're stuck on shiftless.  May the (intentional) shifting continue...

15 shifts in thinking:

Here are some shifts leaders commonly experience.
I used to think leadership was about ______, now I think it’s about ________.
  1. What you did; who you are.
  2. Power; integrity.
  3. Data; culture.
  4. Me; us.
  5. Telling; showing.
  6. Knowledge; wisdom.
  7. Bossing; serving.
  8. Power; humility.
  9. Managing; inspiring.
  10. Authority; love.
  11. My skill; their development.
  12. Position; mission.
  13. Government; community.
  14. Instructing; constructing.
  15. Telling; listening.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

TowardWisdom

Information is cheap, but it's not knowledge.  Knowledge/Experience is making sense of the connection between information and its usefulness.  Reflection is the processing of knowledge/experience, discerning its effect on the user and the environment, prompting judgements on the efficacy of the knowledge applied.

Wisdom is the culminating result of Information + Knowledge/Experience + Reflection

Information = Cheap as dirt

          Knowledge/Experience = Beneficial

                    Reflection = Great value

                              Wisdom = Priceless

There are no shortcuts to wisdom.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

RightlySaid

Words are a powerful tool.  Flippantly or carelessly deployed they can (and often do) ravage and harm.  Thoughtfully chosen and expressed, they can serve to heal, secure, calm, foster, encourage, and develop.

Here's a thought experiment.  Think of a time in which a person spoke words to you along these lines:

  • Disrespect
  • Hateful
  • Condescending
  • Meanness
  • Dismissive
  • Spiteful
  • Biting sarcasm
  • Angry
Now think of a time when someone aimed words toward you that expressed the following (somehow):
  • Gratitude/Appreciation
  • Love
  • Care
  • Encouragement
  • Kindness
  • Optimism
  • Openness/Inclusiveness
  • Forgiveness
Which person would/do you prefer to interact with?  Which would you be more inclined to follow?  Which would you feel better about serving?  Which would you feel better about serving alongside?  Which would you prefer to embrace in partnership/covenant?

If better futures is our goal, well chosen words, rightly delivered, serve as powerful accelerants.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

WrongFinding

Negatives are easier to identify than positives.  Building up is much harder than tearing down.  Finding the bad is far easier than pointing out the good.  Criticism flows much easier from the tongue than praise.

Pointing out what's wrong is not rocket science.  Solution crafting is our real work, and that requires optimism, engagement, creativity, buy-in, and teamwork, none of which are the fruits of wrongfinding.

Viewing the world and engaging others from a deficit mindset changes little and wins few converts.

The best leaders I know follow the road less taken; they choose to find and accentuate the stuff that's going right disproportionately over the stuff that's going wrong.  And yes, it is a choice.

Wrongfinding is a fool's errand.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Resistance

Resistance is real, both in its literal and figurative forms.  Resistance can result from:

  • Overload - As in the case of electricity.  When the load exceeds the capacity of the medium, resistance occurs.  Too much load >>> inability to carry out the task.
  • Obstructions - As in the case of a boulder falling into a stream bed or too much poop and paper in the sewer line, an obstruction dams up the flow/momentum.  Obstruction >>> momentum compromise/diversion.
  • Ill Health - As in the case of our circulatory system, the hardening and/or clogging of our vessels restricts the blood flow and compromises our health, THROUGHOUT the system (top to bottom, innermost to outermost).  This is both an upstream and downstream problem.  Ill health >>> weakness or death.
  • Natural Forces - As in the case of gravity or hate, certain natural forces consistently work to "bend" our efforts.  To push solutions or remedies that ignore the natural forces is folly.  Natural forces >>> predictable resistance.
  • Threat - In the human mind, threat triggers the automatic psychological responses of fight or flight. The most fundamental response is to protect self and/or the status quo.  Threat >>> unconscious resistance.
For those of us who presume to lead others, in any form or fashion, to ignore those dynamics foretells a limiting or halting of the progress we seek.

All must be dealt with.  Far better to do so on the front side of the resistance.

Friday, August 3, 2018

TimeZones

Humans, over the years, have created the convention of time zones (in the U.S. we have the Eastern, the Central, the Mountain, and the Pacific time zones).

This artificial framing of time is done, we believe, to enhance our efficiencies, to give us reliable reference points, to measure "where we are" at some designated point in our day.  Knowing the time of day, either where we are presently, or where someone else is presently, or where we will be later or have been earlier, doesn't change a thing about who we are or why we exist.

I propose we consider adding a new time zone, the GOLD TIME ZONE (GTZ).  Since they're all made up anyway, why not?

The GTZ could be that window of time when we're interacting authentically with the people most important to us and fully engaging in worthy/consequential acts that make the world a better place.

Imagine a world running completely on GTZ.  (Never hurts to dream...)