Due to increased functionality, I’ve moved the LEAP blog to the following address:
In a recent post, I mentioned a blog I have been reading. In his post, Cognition and Chance, Kent Blumberg makes some great points about how we think, assess information, and make decisions. One of the conclusions he drew really resonated with me. “Our estimates of time and cost are almost always too low. ”
I saw this in action this month when I had my house painted. The estimate I received from the contractor was a very reasonable price, and he said that it would only take a weekend. In fact, the job took two weekends–effectively raising the costs to him as an independent contractor.
How does this relate to us in our profession? When we lose sight of the fact that time is a resource that requires management, we set ourselves up for the inevitable costs: money, morale, quality, credibility, etc.
If you are interested in taking a look at how you can be more effective with the time you have, browse through this slideshow on Time Management.
Most people would agree that healthy, successful organizations practice transparency with their staff. From the top down, each stakeholder is treated with the respect that is inherent when valuable information is shared. This holds true when the news is both good and bad.
The strongest organizations practice this and make it a part of their culture. This is accomplished easily when there is a concerted effort to communicate through formal channels. The organization leaders make an effort to be visible and communicate the message. But what about those times when the information sharing is not planned? This is the time for transparency in the moment.
At a recent meeting, I watched our Deputy Director make a short presentation regarding the Friends Budget allocations. This was a cut and dry, information sharing opportunity. When time came for questions, though, they were off topic and related to far more complex budget, staffing, and collection issues. While she did not come prepared for these questions, she proceeded to answer each question as candidly and thoroughly as possible.
This is what I mean by transparency in the moment. Rather than defer those questions, she took the opportunity to be open and honest about the state of those issues. The net result is a better informed group of managers that have credible information to provide to their staff. No one was left wondering–How bad is it? What is she hiding? Rather, she managed, in that brief moment, to seize the opportinty to build trust and create a sense of belonging.
It was announced this week that Dean has become the acting manager for the Frayser Branch Library. Dean’s service to the Frayser community, and his determination to pursue a leadership role have begun to pay off. We wish you success and look forward to you bringing your leadership experience and enthusiasm to your new position.
I had a conversation recently with a friend who is a fan of the TLC show, What Not to Wear. You know how it goes. Everybody’s favorite frumpy friend gets the professional makeover treatment, and Voila! The swan emerges from beneath the duckling’s feathers.
This particular episode was a little different in that it had a very relevant message for the emerging leader. The person of focus for this episode wa a young woman in her twenties who worked as a receptionist in a bank in NYC. Her clothing was not what one would describe as “professional.” She wore clothing that was more along the lines of what you would see in a junior high school rather than in a professional lending institution. One of the hosts, Clinton, made the comment, “People should dress like they are proud to be at work.”
What does this mean to you? Are our wardrobe choices sending the messages we intend? Do people, followers in particular, make judgements based on simple factors like dress?
Just something to think about.
I encountered a really powerful concept that has implications for visionary leadership. When reading Stanford University professor Bob Sutton’s “Work Matters” Blog, I was floored by the simplicity of the idea of “strong opinions, held weakly.” This idea contends that one must possess strong opinions in order to generate compelling and convincing arguments in favor of that opinion. Without this conviction, one will not have the motivation to dig deeply and flesh out the arguments. Conversely, Sutton contends that these positions must be held weakly. Why? Well, if one’s position is too firmly entrenched, it raises the possibility that he may become deaf to alternate ideas and information.
Why is this important for visionary leadership? Leaders must be prepared to present opinions in the strongest possible light. To do this, the leader must develop compelling and defensible positions that will influence followers. However, holding the opinion weakly allows the leader to examine situations, information, and trends that may validate the present course or necessitate conscience-directed change. By conscience-directed change I mean leaders making decisions based upon what is right, moral and most prudent for the situation.
History is replete with examples of leaders staying the course in the face of contradictory evidence or experience. The leaders of Enron maintained the status quo regardng their business practices when all evidence pointed to the fact that the business model was not sustainable. Had they had the courage to face the situation head-on and make conscience-directed changes, history might tell a different story. However, we all know how the story ends.
Are any of your opinions so strong that you are willing to hold them to the bitter end? Do you have the courage to make conscience-directed changes? Just some questions to ponder.
Jeanne Carr, Managing Partner with Team Trek Coaching Group completed the all day retreat for our new LEAP class. In the session, Jeanne clearly established that effective, visionary leadership can only begin after a thorough process of self discovery and awareness. This process leads one, inevitably, toward an understanding of talents and strengths. It is the application of these strengths, in a measured and balanced way, that leads to excellence.
Most importantly, the session outlined the principle of 100% responsibility. Simply stated, “I am 100% responsible for how I choose to respond to the people and circumstances in my life. Everyone else is 0% responsible.” Therefore, I am 100% responsible for developing my strengths, 100% responsible for preparing for challenges, and 100% responsible for how I react to challenges. It is quite empowering and liberating when I realize that, although I cannot control the circumstances, I do control my reactions. And, consequently, I am far more likely to effect positive outcomes.