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When We Help

I asked folks to send in stories about those who have helped them personally or who they have encountered who make a difference. Here is a powerful one from Katherine Matson who is a participant in our “Total Leadership Connections Program“. Katherine is a skilled technology expert who spent years at IBM. She is also an individual who cares about making the world a better place and developing models for user friendly work settings, both technically and relationally.      Sylvia asked us to share stories about one person making a difference.  Last week my oldest daughter called me to tell me about a guest speaker in her Public Policy class, a young man named John Dau.  Dau was one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, one of 27,000 who walked over one thousand miles to reach freedom.  I know some came here to Michigan, and perhaps there are some in your area as well.      Dau arrived in Syracuse in 2001 just before 9/11.  From never having seen electricity (they had to show him how to turn the lights on and off) he has graduated from Syracuse University, started a foundation, and has finished building a clinic in Sudan.  A few weeks ago he was honored with a Caring People award (along with Colin Powell and Dalai Lama).  Helping Sudan has become his life’s work.      Through hardship…beauty.      Here is a link to his website:  http://www.johndaufoundation.org     ...

Leadership Strategies: Preventing Burnout

Every leadership development program should have a module on burnout; how to avoid it and what to do when yikes, too late, it’s right there in front of you. Burnout is one of the leading causes of conflict in the workplace. When you are exhausted even the softest squeaky wheel will set your teeth on edge. Burnout causes you to be irritable, unfocused, and less willing to hear others. In a great article by Joe Duffy in FastCompany.com (Oct.27) he talks about creative types and how to keep their mojo. His advice works equally well for the rest of us worker bees, those of us who think we are the drudges at work. Drudge is an interesting word. It is a word from Old English that means to work, to suffer. Fascinating how work and suffering are so often linked together. So, ask yourself, are you a creator or a drudge? Is your life about finding the new in the mundane? Is your life about being a suffering servant to others? Once you claim the mantle of being a creative type everything in your life will take on new colors and dimensions. So, whether you have the freedom to come and go at work that Joe suggests, or you are a 9 to 5’er, you can garner new ideas and help spark the inspiration of your whole team. Here are a few suggestions:               * Go for a brief 20 minute walk by yourself               * Close your eyes for 20 minutes and hum to yourself               * Check out a joke site and have a few laughs              ...

Is threatening people really a good idea?

I was watching an “expert” talk about how to get a team motivated. His question was “Is threatening people a good idea”? In less than the two minute YouTube response his answer was basically “yes, that if people are not living up to our expectations we need to confront them and tell them what is wrong and what they have to do.”   Needless to say, I was frustrated with this simplistic and one step answer. My concern is that while we want, and the internet prefers, easy answers we are losing the capacity to search deeply and broadly for what really works in terms of motivating and developing leaders as well as valued employees. This concept of how to motivate and engage was front and center a few days ago.   I was facilitating the third session of our “Total Leadership Connections”(TLC) program which focuses on team integration, how situations and people are connected at a core level. At one point there was dissatisfaction with an earlier process and someone felt he had not received enough time to complete his presentation. He sat quietly and it was clear he was disengaged.   So, what does a facilitator do? Easier to ignore and talk off line? Easier to give the time and be late for other parts of the session? Easier to ignore? What isn’t easy is to stop the flow of the meeting and tend to the problem right there and then, with the whole group in attendance. This is meant not to threaten people; it is to help them learn an art that is not well practiced....

Results thru Relationships

Last month we were in the middle of our 41st “Total Leadership Connections” program and the context was integration. Mainly about how things are connected and what to look for when people work together.   The group consists of highly trained, very competent executives who want to take their careers to a higher level. Their skills in marketing, education, and sales are exemplary. What we were discussing was how people who work together can find a new point of connection when they are more open with each other. The idea is about a group hug, it’s about innovation and creativity.   I must admit, other than a few companies we have worked with, the traditional way is to be rather closed about ourselves. In most executive training programs the focus is on strategy and structure. The human part of capitol is still behind a wall of self protection.   As we sat and grappled with how open is appropriate I could feel the discomfort in the room. Finally, one of the more courageous participants talked about how he had gotten burned by sharing a story in which he had been open with his boss and it came back to haunt him. That started a rash of “me too” stories that proved the point it is better to be safe behind walls.   I really wondered if the group would break through and at least experience what real camaraderie feels like, even for just a brief time. Everyone talks about, yearns for a trusting environment at work, yet, until truth is told and someone is willing to risk being the...

Anger at Work

I just found a note I wrote when I was putting the information together for my book “Don’t Bring It to Work”. It was a simple statement, “Anger at work and at home costs a lot of money”. I began to think about all the arguments I have had, at least the BIG ones that I can remember, actually, the ones I know I will never forget. And I decided to see what it would be like to put a cash amount on each one. I finally stopped when I realized I had exceeded the national debt. Then I looked at research about the cost of anger in the workplace. I took out violence that belongs in another category. I just wanted to look at law suits, wasted time, people quitting, people being fired. Again, it was way beyond what this country owes the Chinese. Why, I wondered, do we have such a hard time getting along? Why do we create so many opposite stands so that we are hell bent on proving each other wrong? I know part of the issues concerns what I have written about. The patterns from childhood are hard wired and we carry them with us into all other relationships. So if we saw and participated in divisiveness as kids, just think about the neighborhood bully and the havoc he or she could cause, we carried these memories into our adult lives and they became the way we treat each other. So, here is my question: what would it take to show compassion and kindness instead of anger and revenge? If any one has...