Be Happy

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Two simple words to say, but not always something so simple to do. My 4 year old has been known to blurt this out after he has done something wrong and knows he is in trouble. Like if he just says this, it will automatically make his poor choice go away and instantly I will be happy!

Throughout our leadership journey, how many times have we said to a peer or team member something along these lines? “Let it go,” or “Get over it,” were my two personal favorites. Yes, if someone just tells me this, I will magically move past something that has annoyed or upset me. And of course I have said these very words to others, so I am just as guilty.

I believe that we often try to fix a situation just by saying something. While this might help a little, it will not address the issue at hand. We are conditioned as leaders to deal out advice because we have been led to believe this is what our team members want. And, in many cases they do want our advice, but sometimes we need to dig a little deeper and listen more than we speak. In many cases I have often found that a team member will come to you when they are unhappy and in need of a sounding board – someone who can listen and help them work through something that might be bothering them. Guiding the conversation and probing a little further can sometimes aid a team member in finding their own solution without some cliché saying being tossed around.

Do we all need to let it go or get over it sometimes? Yes we do, however simply saying the words doesn’t make it happen. Sometimes as a leader just listening will go much further than offering your words of wisdom!

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What Do You See?

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By Lead in the Moment guest blogger, EJ Widun

When you look at the picture above what do you see? Do you see an upside down landscape or do you see something more?

This picture is actually a photo of a reflection of a landscape and sunset in a pond. If you look closely, you can see the ripples in the water. I took this photo while walking through a park with my daughter on a beautiful summer evening. Both of us have a passion for unique and interesting photos. As we were walking, she asked me to take a picture. So I snapped the photo, but did not realize the real beauty of what I captured until she showed me.

When I brought the picture up on my phone, my daughter showed me the true amazing features in this picture. Things I did not see when I snapped it. You can see the ripples in the water or you can see an inverted picture. If you look closely, you can see the slight orange glow of sunset reflected in the water.

After realizing how cool this photo was, I was more impressed at what I learned. It is amazing how you can change your perspective just by listening to a simple conversation. Do you ever stop and realize the golden nuggets in a conversation with a friend or colleague over coffee? Do you marvel at what a child can notice compared to what you take for granted or can be too busy to see?

My lesson from this day was to make sure I take time to notice the small details and intricacies of each day; otherwise, I will miss out on something amazing. When you think about your personal life or your career, these are words of wisdom to live by.

An Expert Opinion

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Experts are all around us. There are those whose expertise we value and those we ignore. There are high-priced experts who can provide valuable information for an organization, versus those who believe their own level of expertise far exceeds what they really know.

How does someone gain expert status? Do we consider someone an expert when they have an education or extensive background? If someone is successful in his or her chosen area of expertise, it could be said that person is an expert. Or do we trust someone who has an advertisement proclaiming his or her merits?

So who are we to believe? Is the term expert too widely used in our vocabulary today?  When something bad happens in the world, there is usually some expert interviewed by the news media.  Where do they find these experts?  If I can speak authoritatively on a specific subject, even though I may not have extensive knowledge to back it up, am I an expert? Unfortunately in many cases people will believe someone is an “expert” based upon his or her ability to appear credible.

What do you believe makes a person an expert?

Do You Have a Back-Story?

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A strange thought occurred to me the other day when I was preforming my annual after-Easter tradition of turning all of the Easter eggs into egg salad. As I was peeling and mashing up a dozen hard-boiled eggs, I noticed there were a few eggs where the coloring had gone through onto the egg white. This is nothing new, typically when small children color Easter eggs, the words “gently place the egg in the color” does not apply and a few eggs will be cracked, allowing the egg dye to seep through.

Where am I going with this, right? If I went to the store and bought egg salad then discovered small pieces of green and blue in it, I would definitely return it. However, I don’t have a problem with small pieces of green and blue egg in my own egg salad because I know why it is there.

How many times have we taken a look at a person or situation in a negative light because we do not have all of the information? We are quick to judge something because it looks unusual or appears unsettling to us.  What happens when we have all of the information about something or someone? Does the same situation that previously bothered us impact us in a different way once we understand the back-story?

I guess you could say it is like the old saying that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Maybe things wouldn’t bother us as much if we understand why. If the pizza you ordered takes longer than 30 minutes and it is snowing heavily, you understand why your order might be taking longer than expected and are less likely to get angry.

Am I saying that you should keep food from the grocery that has foreign objects in it? Definitely not! What I am saying is that sometimes you need to dig a little deeper to understand that there is generally a reason why something might not appear to be as you expect it to, just like green and blue egg salad!

How Does Your Culture Grow?

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Organizational culture – what is it and why has it become so important in the landscape of corporate America?

Where does an organization’s culture come from? Is it just a set of rules written by a committee and everyone is expected to blindly follow them? Is an organization’s culture a slogan or thought that a CEO just thinks up on the fly and insists everyone admire his or her brilliance? Does culture amount to the way in which everyone within an organization behaves or interacts with one another? These questions could go on and on, as there are probably as many interpretations of organizational culture out there.

I am always interested in hearing what people think about culture within the organization that employs them. Some believe it is the best thing out there, others believe it stinks. In reality, how many people actually understand the basics of your organization’s culture and could communicate them to someone? I have spoken with people throughout the years about the culture within their organizations, and to be honest, I was surprised at the responses. Many could not articulate a concise idea of what their organization stood for. They got hung up on the idea that organizational culture was how leadership treated them. While that is an important part of an organization’s culture, it is not the only thing. An organizational culture extends past the leader-team member relationship to also encompass an overall attitude about how you do business. Are you an organization that likes to have fun while working, are you passionate about making the world a better place, are you completely possessed with providing excellent service to your customers? These are all examples of what an organization’s culture might look like. Do we allow our team members to understand how our organization’s culture was created and why it is significant to our success?

How often do we communicate this information with our team members? Is organizational culture something we talk about during new team member orientation, and then promptly forget about it, leaving it on the shelf along with the new team member handbook? A piece of paper on a bulletin board in the team member break room doesn’t cut it. Organizational culture is not something that can be stuck up on the wall if you expect people to live it. If you expect your organization to have a strong culture, it needs to become part of your everyday thoughts and actions. If you personify the culture of your organization, then others will follow.

Share and Share Alike

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Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am an ardent supporter of leadership belonging to everyone in an organization, not just a handful of people with a title. If we believe that everyone has the potential to be a leader, how do we filter this concept down to every person within your organization?

The concept of shared leadership may sound like an odd idea. If you are a leader, it is your responsibility to lead, correct? What happens when we make the choice to share our leadership with others? I am not talking about passing the buck, shoving your dirty work onto your team members. What I am referring to is the idea that you should be taking the time to share your thoughts about leadership as well as allowing your team members to assist in the leadership process. Wouldn’t it be great if you created an opportunity for everyone to learn from one another? I felt that we all had something to contribute to the organization regardless of position. Just because I had the title of leader, it no way meant that I was the smartest person in the organization. Sharing my leadership increased my knowledge base from the many things I learned from my team along this journey. The organization also benefitted from the way in which the team was able to take up the reins of leadership. They felt more confident in the decisions that they made and were able to serve our customers in exemplary ways.

Are you a leadership miser, keeping it all to yourself, or do you believe leadership should be spread around?