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Prioritize!

Prioritize!

When your technical skills are great and you really care about your constituents you should be getting lots of kudos for your work. Right? Well…not so fast. Number one is, you MUST prioritize your RELATIONSHIPS. So often people skills are what creates a limiting career path. Now, what exactly do I mean? I mean YOUR personality may be the limiting factor. Here is an example: Jim, the head of client services in a large company was in charge of buying and placing new furniture for the open space casual meeting area. There was a team meeting and the team decided what they wanted. Hear me…the TEAM DECIDED. They even picked the fabric colors and decided how to have the furniture lend in a soothing way with the colors of the walls. All well and good. Almost! Then Jim, who took being the head of client services to heart, spent time rethinking the plan. He called the team together with his new ideas. They voted and still wanted what they had picked. After all, this was a TEAM DECISION. New furniture was delivered and placed in the open space, for, oh about a month. Jim hated the way it looked. He called some maintenance men to change this furniture with some that was in a long forgotten work room. How did his team handle this? Was there a conflict resolution meeting? Did Jim lose his job? Was there a battle of the decorating mavens? None of the above. Jim became the butt of many jokes, some funny, some vicious, some clever. Was that the end of it? Not quite. When...
Naughty Can Become NICE

Naughty Can Become NICE

The road was slick from the rain. I did not want to complain because the Bay Area needs to fill up its rivers and reservoirs as fast as possible. None the less, when a car swerved just a bit too close for comfort I shouted out from that place inside that activates stress “Watch out you jerk.” My nine year old granddaughter said simply, “Grand-mom that was not very mindful. When we get home I’ll do some of the mindful meditations we learn in school with you.” And we did. We began by showing compassion for all things great and small. We studied an orange and appreciated its beauty and smell and the good health it brings us. We looked at a flower, we ran our fingers over a book and on and on. I know from all my research in leadership development that when stress hits the hot button we all revert to patterns from childhood to keep us safe. When our buttons get pushed we all tend to react in a less than excellent way. Well, the holidays are upon us and everyone I talk with says their stress meter is at the top. I want to give you all a holiday gift of a TED Talk by my friend Meng who is a semi-retired engineer at Google. Meng invited me to speak about my book, ‘Don’t Bring It to Work’ at Google and when we finally met in person I knew I had come across an extraordinary human being. He doesn’t just talk about compassion and mindfulness, he lives it. He was interviewed on 60 minutes...
Talk of Torture Timely for Leadership development

Talk of Torture Timely for Leadership development

What a bummer that Angelina Jolie will miss the opening of the film “Unbroken” that she directed. Sadly, she missed the chicken pox as a kid and has to break out and itch as an adult. However, the timing of this film is placed perfectly. With Dick Cheney in great confidence saying he did not think that our country used torture and John McCain taking an opposite view we can get beyond the verbiage to see what torture looks like in Jolie’s film. In one interview Jolie was asked if she thought the film would pave the way for a summit on torture in war zones. Her answer was not that of a mediocre actress and a “spoiled brat” as someone said on the Sony tapes. It was the response of a mature woman who wants to make a difference. “The intention of the film and the message of Louis’ story is about the resilience of human spirit, faith, brotherhood and forgiveness. However we review history and how it affects us today, we have to look at it with a clear mind and an open heart. And it’s not about just having judgment, it’s about trying to understand each other and how we are planning on moving forward together.” Thank you Angelina. This is the same underlying message that is in “Don’t Bring It to Work”. Too many people think that work is “torture” and there are not enough dialogs about understanding each other and moving forward together. Maybe “Unbroken” will open a door for more and more discussions of what really matters to us as human...

Take the Best Route from Management to Leadership

“How does a manager become a leader?” you ask. This is one of the most important questions in all of business. What the work world needs today are more leaders who can take charge in a strategic way and help everyone in the company have a “go for it and grow from it” mind set. Here are some vital differences: Management: Tell and Do…………………………….Leadership: Ask and Advise Management: Transactional………………………….Leadership: Strategic Management: Complete the Goal…………………….Leadership: Maintain the Vision Management: Control…………………………………Leadership: Connect Management: Do What I Say…………………………..Leadership: We’re in It Together So, what happens when a manager becomes a leader? There is an in-between time that is both energizing as well as challenging. Stan is a perfect example. When he was promoted to vice president of operations he knew he had to make some basic changes to the way he responded to his team. He was on a high speed highway in a shiny vehicle with brand new tires! And he was raring to go! He had his checklist: moving from control to passion, objectives to vision, stability to change, results to achievement, planning details to setting direction, short term to long term thinking. And then…………………….There was that day he knew leadership demanded more. It was at a meeting where concerns and complaints were as abundant as a tropical summer downpour. Initially he went to his knee-jerk behavior of shutting down the discussion. He hated conflict and had a pattern of being a lifelong avoider. He was comfortable in the world of right and wrong, pointing the finger of blame and moving on. He knew he was being tested and realized...

Leadership and Hidden Sources of Conflict

One day at a senior staff meeting Michael expressed strong doubts of George’s idea to acquire another company. Michael and George started to raise their voices, much to the surprise of the rest of the management team. Michael was so angry he was physically shaking; he nearly lunged at his colleague. He knew even as he stood there that his behavior was irrational – way out of proportion to the situation being discussed. He excused himself, went into his office and closed the door. After some deep breaths to calm down he started to write about what had just happened. As he wrote a memory seized him and he remembered an incident with his older brother (someone just like George). He was nine years old and no matter what he said he could never get his older brother to really hear him. The two boys were always competing for being the best, the smartest, the winner. And here he was, in this meeting feeling that his co-worker George was winning and he would end up being the younger brother who could never be first, never be listened to. Later that day Michael took a risk and went to talk with George who had stayed in the meeting dumbfounded with Michael’s reaction. Listening to Michael was a turning point in the relationship with the two men. Not the touchy-feely types, they were both a bit shy. However, finding out that George was not the source of Michael’s upset, was gratifying. They made an agreement to really hear each other and when in the heat of a discussion the situation seemed to veer off course they would stop...

Extraordinary Bosses and Extraordinary Work Cultures

Who are the employees who drive most bosses crazy? They are … ta da…. The rebels. Rebels are those who always find something wrong at work and want to gather the troops to take their case to HR. And if HR does not respond, well, there is always a hungry lawyer lurking in the corners who is ready to go at it with a hostile work environment suit. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some situations (think Enron) are really ugly and need special attention. However, most situations at work can be changed with a bit of discussion and some good will. Here is where an extraordinary boss takes the lead. Extraordinary bosses are able to listen to the wants and needs of the community and move from what is to what is better. They create a groundswell of good intentions by letting employees voice their dissatisfaction and then help them take the bitter out and go for the better. Let’s go back to the rebels at work. They often grew up in families where there was discrimination and they were the recipients (or their parents were) of unpleasant comments or rude and ugly reactions. As bosses or employees they are highly sensitive to subtle slurs and overt insults and rightfully do not want to tolerate intolerance. Extraordinary bosses create a level playing field where more and more people feel included and want to be part of a new and creatively effective solution. Rebels turned community builders make amazing things happen and change comes about because each individual is seen as UNIQUE and with a gift to add to the whole community. People want to work in environments that make room for differences and applaud the gifts...