Sunday, February 24, 2019

HabitThat

I recently pitched a learning prompt to my online students in the educational leadership program at Louisiana State University-Shreveport (LSUS).  The query related to organizational habits that contribute to the health and wellbeing of their schools as organizations.  

Here was that "HabitThat" prompt:  
"Share with us an experience when you have observed a school leader influence the culture of the place by instigating or promoting the adoption of a powerful 'habit' that contributed to the health and wellbeing of the organization."

Some powerful takeaways and reminders from reading the responses of my students:
  • Habits "manage" our days so it is critically important that we deliberately choose our habits.
  • Health and wellbeing are just as important and applicable to organizations/communities as they are to us as individuals.
  • Habits and organizational culture are implicitly intertwined and interdependent.
  • The health and wellbeing of organizations are NOT defined by employee handbooks, but rather by the collective "habits" of the membership.
  • Habits that impact health and wellbeing (whether organizationally or individually) are enacted by each of us everyday - for better or worse.
  • Thoughtful school leaders from all contexts are successfully meeting the challenge of making better futures for children through purposeful and positive acts of social habituation in their schools (my LSUS students hail from every corner of the U.S., Columbia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and the Virgin Islands). 
Personal and organizational betterness?  Yes, we can.  And many are.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

TheIdealTeamPlayer

I recently read The Ideal Team Player:  How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni (2016).  

I became a fan of PL's thinking from a previous book he wrote on the topic of dysfunctional teams.  

In this work, PL starts the book out in novel-like form, telling the story of a business owner attempting to ensure quality leadership succession in his organization.  From that "story" PL then launches into a discussion of how organizational leaders can better recognize, recruit, and cultivate team players that have the qualities most likely to affect high performance.

What are those qualities, you say?  PL terms them the "Three Essential Virtues," and here they are:
> Humble - folks who focus on the success of the team more than their own
> Hungry - voracious learners and gitter-doners, work horses not show horses 
> Smart - those who are relationally appropriate and aware, who play well with others

I've worked with some of those characters over the years.  A palpable and productive pleasure.

The book is an excellent study in team chemistry and personnel selection.  PL even includes thoughts on interviewing and the application of the concepts in the team setting.  

Friday, February 15, 2019

WeWereTheLuckyOnes

I recently read We Were the Lucky Ones:  A Novel, by Georgia Hunter (2018).


While GH chose to write this tale as fiction, it was mostly an autobiographical account of her family's survival as Polish Jews during the reign of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

While another reminder of the barbarity that we humans seem willing to direct toward others, based purely on race or religion, this story is exceptionally remarkable in detailing how so many of the Kurc family actually survived Hitler's atrocities.  

A beautifully written account, GH manages to weave for us a lovely tale of the power of family, while being virtually devoid of expressions of recrimination or victimhood or entitlement.  Leads me to wonder if the resilience of that family was and is grounded deeply in their ability to constantly look forward.

I highly recommend - both reading this book, and keeping some tissue handy.  

Thanks for the rec, KC.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Growers

Stuff that grows us:

  • Challenges that draw deeply on our personal resources.
  • Trying to help others grow.
  • The desire to improve, with accompanying effort.
  • Novel experiences, people, and places.
  • Hardship.
  • Parents/Mentors/Coaches/Teachers who expect much from us.
  • Not knowing, but wanting to.
  • Serving others.
  • Loving and accepting love, well.
Stuff that doesn't:
  • Privilege.
  • Giving up.
  • Not caring.
  • Selfishness.
  • Pride.
  • Arrogance.
  • Victimhood.
In almost every circumstance, Growth (or lack of it) springs directly from the choices we make.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Stresstitioners

Research in psychology, education, organizational behavior, sociology, biology, neurology, etc., are increasingly teasing out the deleterious effects of stress.  Prescriptions for stress interventions run the gamut - medication, meditation, exercise, therapy, diet, ..........

Many leaders believe that "threat" is an effective trigger for improved performance.  The mounting body of evidence suggests otherwise.  Stress causes our brain to default toward the Fight or Flight or Freeze response triad, none of which are catalysts of optimal performance. 

There is a very fine line between challenge and threat.  The best leaders (i.e., parents, bosses, coaches, teachers, mentors) know well that when our words/actions/behaviors become perceived to be Threat instead of Challenge achievement prospects of our goals for the child/mentee/team immediately are diminished rather than enhanced.

Leadership practitioners are wise to avoid becoming stresstitioners.