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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…

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

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

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 walls, and a great deal more compassion. Don’t you think…

Understanding Our Circle Of Influence

Understanding Our Circle Of Influence

 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…

Make Accountability Joyful

Make Accountability Joyful

Why is it that ‘accountability’ always has this negative connotation? It seems to always come with the subtext: You better do it right, or else…! The problem with that is it misses the most valuable part of accountability, which is follow-up and follow-through. It’s not about you better get this done or I’m going to HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE!” (cue ominous music and read: fail and you’re fired). It’s more about how do I support you, and help you follow through with getting this accomplished? That’s a much more positive angle, and ultimately it’s going to make way more of a difference. Too often in teams, we have meetings to discuss meetings to discuss meetings, but we leave those meetings unsure if we ever reached a final decision. Is everyone clear on what part is their responsibility, and what decision they’re responsible to make? It is mind-boggling how many meetings end with some people thinking a decision was made but unable to truly articulate it; and other people wondering what the hell just happened. In order to hold people accountable in a positive way, you want a way to follow up decisions, to-dos and actions. Be clear on what kind of follow through you want. Drill down into each step that needs to be taken, and by whom, and everyone’s expectations around each step. This isn’t so you can say or else. This is so that when we follow up in a week or two, it’s clear what’s being followed up on and the expectations around what is happening. It is amazing how often people think they do this, but...
How To Make Connection In Animosity

How To Make Connection In Animosity

When I worked for a software company called CollegeNet, it was my job to sell scheduling and space management software to colleges and universities and help them overcome the politics of implementation. One university in particular had a homegrown scheduling algorithm they had been using for years, and it worked really well. The only problem was that it ran on an old mainframe that the school was retiring, and the software couldn’t be converted to the new platform. When the administrators called us in, I was met with serious resistance by the schedulers and faculty — to put it mildly. These were the people who would actually use this software. “We don’t like or want you,” I was told point-blank. “We’re only here because the administration is making us be here.” To say they were not a friendly audience is an understatement as big as it is misleading. After all, they were great and kind people feeling pushed up against a wall, and fearful of losing functionality and control. So instead of pitching, I sought first to connect and understand. “This is what I think I know,” I said, and went on to explain what I thought I understood about their situation; their love of their technology, change being thrust upon them, everything working well for years, if it ain’t broke, etc. They nodded and filled in a few minor blanks, but more importantly, they saw I understood. Instead of telling them change is inevitable, I honored them, their concerns, their fears and their frustrations, and didn’t move on until I understood their perspective. It led to a fabulous...
Connecting Over Disagreements

Connecting Over Disagreements

Welcome to 2020!!! The year of clarity and perfect vision. What are you ready to see more clearly? We’re all faced with the reality that there is more division than ever in our country and we are having a hard time seeing our way out of it. What do you do when faced with loved ones who really draw different conclusions than you do about issues that matter to you? It’s often been said that emotional maturity means owning our emotions and opinions. If you do that honestly, self-reflectively, and critically, and you believe others have done the same, what does it mean if you draw different conclusions? Are one of you wrong? Perhaps. But is that really the issue at hand? Sometimes, the greater issue isn’t who is wrong — it’s how you connect with one another despite that differing conclusion. That’s when great leadership shows up. I’ve used this quote before, but it certainly applies again: Rumi said, “Out there beyond right and wrong is a field. I’ll meet you there.” As long as we see in terms of right and wrong, there is no chance for connection. So the question is, can you meet your ‘opponent’ there, in that field beyond? How can we see our way and build connection when we disagree so strongly? Abraham Lincoln was known for his ‘team of rivals’. When he was elected, he put together a team of people who disagreed with him in an attempt to understand the big picture. He wanted to see both sides. He sought honest connection out in that field of which Rumi speaks. That’s...
Do You Believe Anything is Possible for 2020?

Do You Believe Anything is Possible for 2020?

Can you believe it? Here we are again! Sitting on the edge of another New Year! Did 2019 go the way you planned? So what do you have in the works for 2020? Something big?! Survival? More of the same? Something completely different? I’m not asking about resolutions; resolutions, they say, have a short shelf life and fail by January 15. I’m asking about goals – things you are actually going to do. Remember, we tend to find exactly what we’re looking for – so be clear on what you are looking for. After all, the year will happen with or without your engagement. This time next year, you will be 366 days older (2020 is a leap year!). Will you be 366 days wiser? Time’s moving, so you might as well take the helm and steer the leadership of 2020 your way. Let me remind you of one BIG change that will make a ginormous difference: LANGUAGE. More specifically, switch from what you are trying to avoid to what you are trying to attract. Avoiding something doesn’t automatically mean you achieve its opposite. I saw a sign that said: “Hate has no business here!”  I love the sentiment, and of course we all get the meaning, but what are the big action words? “Hate” and “No.” What DOES have business there? If what we really want more of is Love and Yes, then say that. “YES! Our business here is LOVE!” Or “Join us if you want to give and experience LOVE.” Years ago, some of you will remember, my daughter did a science experiment studying the impact...
There’s Magic In The Air

There’s Magic In The Air

There’s magic in the air. This magic is all around us, so ubiquitous that, like water to a fish, we can easily miss it. We might simply NOT notice it. It shows up in all kinds of forms. Intuition — that feeling in our gut, that small still voice speaking quietly in our head and heart, a “sign” like in Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan’s dress splits and she says “It’s a sign.” Or a literal road side sign that points you in a direction you never knew you wanted to go, like the largest ball of paint, or the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, or in my case a sign that read “Last Remaining Pony Express Station.” You weren’t looking for it, you didn’t know you wanted to go there, and yet that magic, that small still voice nudges you, and before you know it, you turn to your travel partner and inform them you are taking a detour. Then, it leads you on a journey you could never have planned, not with a 1,000 AAA Triptiks (the Google Maps of the early 90’s, for you youngins) Are you listening? Are you quiet enough to hear?   Photo by Cristian Escobar on...

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