What Your Team Most Needs Now

What Your Team Most Needs Now

COVID-19 is playing havoc with everyone’s lives and businesses — even my cats have had enough! They keep looking back and forth from me, to the door, back at me, and then back to the door, as if to say “Enough is enough, get ooooout!” It is their house, after all. My dog, on the other hand, is in heaven. He gets to sleep next to my wife as she works from home, and he’s getting an extra-long walk every day. That hasn’t happened since…ever! But enough about my pet’s needs; what does your team need? Now more than ever, they need transparency & connection. That doesn’t mean to blurt out every thought and fear that pops into your head — but it does mean to engage with them. It sounds obvious, but I’m hearing story after story of leaders not doing this. Let your team know what you are seriously thinking about, but — and I cannot stress this enough — engage with them before big decisions are made! Your team knows aspects of your business better than you do. Make no assumptions. Ask. They might have insights, solutions and ideas you never considered. Plus, they will feel valued and important, and therefore more engaged and flexible.   At times like these everyone fears for their jobs, safety and their livelihood. If you know you aren’t letting anyone go — tell them. They need that comfort. If you know there may be pay cuts — tell them that, too. But ask them for creative ideas to minimize the effect; give them a chance to personally prepare. In the absence...
COVID-19 Is Calling For Better Questions

COVID-19 Is Calling For Better Questions

I apologize. The unfortunate release of last week’s article on the hand-shake was humorous if not uncanny — and profoundly poorly timed. That’s what I get for scheduling ahead.    But this week, things are more serious and even less humorous as COVID-19 gains momentum and increases its impact on the world. We can’t know when or how this will all end, or what our businesses, communities, economy, health or civility will look like when it’s over — if “over” is ever even a reality. So the best we can do is recall Abraham Lincoln who said, “The best way to predict the future is to create the future.”    As a leader, let’s remember to also ask the different questions as well.    Yes, for those running businesses and organizations, questions of operations, cash flow, staff and resiliency are imperative — and they’re not the only questions to ask. What about:   If we can care this much during the crisis, how can we carry that compassion forward when it’s over?* Do we have an opportunity to rethink how we price and serve our markets to reduce the negative impacts of viral and economic pandemics?+ What have we learned about how quickly we impact the environment?^ What’s really important? What about “pre-corona” is no longer valid? Were we over-stretched, over-leveraged, or over-extended in a way that put us at unnecessary risk?   Despite how it feels, it’s not completely bad. I in no way want to dismiss the devastating impacts befalling all-too-many as family members fall ill and jobs simply disappear as businesses close for weeks, maybe months,...
What Handshakes Can Teach Us About Communication

What Handshakes Can Teach Us About Communication

When I ask my organizational clients what their greatest challenges are, one of the most common answers is communication — but that’s a 10,000 foot answer. What is the specific problem? Is communication poor, non-existent, incomplete, sometimes aggressive, wishy-washy…? What’s the problem? While there’s a hundred different ways in which communication can be a problem, one thing is consistent: bad communication destroys trust and causes people to pull back rather than reach out. How do you get that trust back? Think of a handshake. Symbolically, it’s a physical manifestation of connection, spoken in the form of body language and representative of trust and vulnerability. After all, it locks you together; the other person could squeeze too hard, or you may want to let go long before they do. It’s vulnerable. That’s what makes its mechanics so powerful.  A handshake is a synecdoche (a part representing the whole) for our greater relationship, and what is communication if not an agent to build relationship? If we look at it this way, our arm is our leadership — that which we bring to the relationship. Our fellowship, if you will. We use that fellowship to reach out, to indicate the desire to communicate, to bring our hands together to make a connection. The connection comes at the point of contact between the palms of the hand.  That’s where contact is made and communication begins. Ever touched a sweaty palm and pulled back — or wanted to? How we experience that contact matters. But contact is not the same as connection. We come in contact all the time with people with whom we...
What Is In Rumi’s Field Beyond Right-doing and Wrong-doing?

What Is In Rumi’s Field Beyond Right-doing and Wrong-doing?

“Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”  Coleman Barks’ translation of Rumi   I sent this wonderful Rumi translation in a previous blog and someone wrote back with a fascinating question: “I love that,” she wrote, “and I agree, but what do I do when I get to the field? I want to go, but I don’t know what to do when I get there.” I don’t pretend to be Rumi, but I have a guess. What I think we do is this: if we’re not worried about being right or changing another person’s mind, then there’s no reason for me to prove you’re wrong. So it doesn’t matter to me what you say; what matters is that you say it, and that I listen. That is the real objective in the field: Listening, Being Heard, Connection. Once you’ve found yourself in the field, your job is just to practice insatiable curiosity. If we’re only worried about connection, if that is our purpose — our objective — then we realize we do care for one another’s humanity, that we have something in common. It’s not about winning, therefore it’s not about losing, either; it’s about being. If I don’t intend to win, I’m not afraid of losing. If I’m not afraid of losing, then why not connect? Why not figure out what makes us similar, or at least what makes them, them? If we enter that field from that place of insatiable curiosity, and listen with hearts open, we’re bound to find ourselves with more meaningful relationships, with way less...
Understanding Our Circle Of Influence

Understanding Our Circle Of Influence

“We are in a circle of influence, not a chain of command.” William Paul Young, “The Shack”    In the immortal words of Rodney King: Can we all just get along? It would be so easy if it weren’t for the many people with whom we just disagree. How do we influence or lead those folks — when we come from such different places? Are we supposed to be able to? Aren’t some of our differences irreconcilable? I know I have opinions that I’m not willing to budge on; I’m sure you do, too. There are a great number of topics I will NEVER be able to agree with everyone on…but does that mean there’s no hope?  Recently, in a conversation with a client, a strange thought popped into my head: We’re not really supposed to. We’re not supposed to get along with and influence everyone! …Only those that we can. The rest we are meant to respect their humanity. We live in a circle of influence, not a chain of command, says the author William Young. And influence isn’t control, or the ability to create wholesale change in another. My influence isn’t a magic potion that converts others to my way of thinking and feeling. Influence is effect, impact, sway, maybe even pressure or guidance. Even if it’s more authoritative than that based on your position or power, you may influence another in a way that affects their behavior. But, if it pushes against and contradicts their values and integrity, the impact will be based on survival, not change. And if you accept your influence, then one must...