Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day, Memories & More…

“Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist ( 1803-1882)
With Memorial Day nearly upon us, often we are thinking summer, end of school and moving forward. What did it take for us to be able to think these things? It took direction, dedication and sacrifice. Thank you to all who left us with but their memory so that we could make more. Each chance you have to make memories, please think of it not as work, or just another day, rather as an opportunity created for you by a stranger to you, someone who came before you, and wanted his or her work, his or her day, his or her chance to make a difference to really count. Do more for yourself, your family, your company, your community, your country. Do it out of direction and dedication to honor such sacrifice. Do it because you want to do it, you know each person deserves a good memory, and do it because Memorial Day is once a year, but the concept, appreciation and attitude around it can live on each day! So, enjoy the sunny days, the graduations, and all that is summer. Thank you to all who serve and have served, and thank you especially now, to those who did not get to experience life after their service. You are all in our minds, our memories, and more…

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Communication: Differentiating Assumption & Expectation

High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. ~ Charles Kettering, American inventor, engineer, businessman (1876 - 1958)
Since most of us know the expression "Never assume...", and when you assume, you make...(of you and me)". These ideas give warning that assumptions are not a good thing. Similarly, we have notions of "high expectations yield high results", and "expect nothing; get nothing". These messages carry the connotation that expectations are a good thing... So what is the difference in assuming, and that not serving us well, and setting expectations, and those giving us focus? I believe the act of communication, effective communication, is what separates the two! Assumptions are often kept to oneself, and therefore, have no other opinion or fact combined with them to enhance or sway them. Assumptions also tend to be negative. I rarely hear something like "I assumed Debbie would do well, and she did!", rather don't we hear mumblings after the fact that are similar to "Well, I assumed you wouldn't show, and you did not."? Expectations can be private, but when most effective, are typically are stated. "You know this material well, and I expect you will finish this report by Tuesday and send it to the leadership team via email for them to review before Thursday's Board Meeting." lets us know the who, what, where, when and how. They convey a belief in someone else, and they are expressed to the other person. Assumptions seem dark and negative because they are often without consideration for the other person's talents or input, where expectations can be clear and positive when the communication that surrounds them has the intent of productivity and the message is clear. If you find you, or others you know are assuming, remember to communicate with (not just to) them about the importance of the message to move to expectations over assumptions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Conflict Creates Collaboration

"A good manager doesn't try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you're the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong - that's healthy." - Robert M. Townsend, Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT (b. 1948)
Being a leader does not mean having one or many "blind followers", and yet, in many organizations, people are expected, or simply do "Follow the Leader". When leaders discourage, ignore, or worse yet, clearly berate with those who have conflicting ideas or questions, they are not "winning", they are simply creating a culture of insincere, apathetic acceptance. And, is it really acceptance...or just compliance? I have yet to meet a leader who is thriving who is seeking compliant team members. Remember, having conflict does not mean disrespect, or argument, rather allowing and inviting conflicting ideas and perspectives is the way to consider all sides, know where people stand, and make an informed decision. Once conflict has yielded healthy conversation, there needs to be a direction, and not a dissension. This "agree to disagree" concept seems professional, but it is really at best, compromise, which is not a win-win, or at worst, just moving on instead of moving forward. Not everyone will get his or her way, but with conflict in conversations, and a decision that comes as a result of full discussion, people can get behind each other, get on-board about the ideas that were decided, and therefore, support the direction of the leadership...which will be at that point, their own based on the collaborative approach!