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Sunday, July 1, 2018

June 2018 Adventures: Lessons Learned

As I zoomed along on my scooter at 40 miles an hour on Foothill Road in Santa Barbara this past Thursday, I reflected on a month where I flew three out of the four weeks:

  • I spoke to Free Methodist pastors and leaders from seven states in the northern section of the Midwest at an annual conference that met in Wisconsin;
  • I worked for three days in Boise with a great client, assisting them in developing their managers;
  • I attended my niece's high school graduation near New York City (see photo of the proud auntie with her favorite niece), spent a few days being a tourist, then took a detour to Chicago on the way home to work with another client for two days on team-building and communication.

These are all activities I have done many times over. Nevertheless, I still have plenty to learn and want to pass a few things along:

What do you have to do become a "great communicator?  After sitting through yet another graduation ceremony, I can safely say that they are still astoundingly boring affairs! Why in the world do they allow school principals and superintendents to drone on and on about dreams and diligence, when absolutely NO ONE is there to hear them speak?? All we want to do is yell and clap when the name of our beloved child/niece/friend is said, and yet that is tacked on to the end, almost as an afterthought, to be plowed through as quickly as possible. In light of this ordeal, I was very attentive to the question addressed in this article.  Though geared for academic administrators, it contains excellent advice for EVERY leader. Key points touch on understanding your audience, power of listening, and good follow up are rock solid.

Strong cultures make it safe to make a mistake. Regardless of the millions of dollars at stake in any given enterprise, I still find that people‘s needs are pretty basic: they want to feel accepted and welcomed wherever they are, and they want to know how to get along with people that they may not agree with. In other words, relationships are central to the workplace. Though only a 20-minute podcast interview, this was packed with some great nuggets to ponder. Statements like, "Good teams work when people have permission to tell each other the truth," and "Groups are built exactly the same way. You can’t just wait for trust to descend from the heavens. You have to build it by being purposefully open with each other," have really stayed with me and have landed when I shared them with clients. Download this one onto your smartphone and take notes.

Five Signs You're Ready to be a Manager. Whether I was speaking to several hundred pastors and leaders on leadership development, coaching new managers as they build their first teams, or training a  team of twenty-five to communicate and collaborate more effectively within a nationally distributed organization, I found the basic principles in this article to hold true. This is a refreshing take on the soft skills required of a leader. After you read it, pass it along to a colleague.

Final thoughts...

A proud heart can survive general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.

Chinua Achebe, writer and professor

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