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Showing posts from February, 2009

Engaging Leaders - Stephen Roesler

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I invited consultant and blogger Stephen Roesler (whose blog All Things Workplace was named as one of top blogs in 2008 for leadership and talent management) to join one of my guest blogger series, and said he could choose either one, Engaging Voices or Leading In the Crisis. Being an inventive guy, he wrote a piece that straddles both!

Leading In Crisis With an Engaging Voice by Steve Roesler

I'm not sure how to talk about leading without discussing engagement.

Warren Bennis recently reflected:

‘In discussing various approaches to leadership, I often note a distinction made between two nineteenth-century British prime ministers. It was observed that when you had dinner with William Gladstone, you left thinking, “That Gladstone is the wittiest, the most intelligent, the most charming person around.” But when you had dinner with Benjamin Disraeli, you left thinking, “I’m the wittiest, the most intelligent, the most charming person around!” Gladstone shone, but Disraeli created an e…

"The Universe Likes Specifics"

A couple weeks ago, I came across the idea that "the universe likes specifics." I hadn't heard it before. I googled it to find its origin, but no luck.

It came up in the context of an email exchange on the ODNet listserv, where OD consultant John Scherer was giving some advice about job hunting to another member.

Here's John's advice:

~ "What would be the phone call that would make your heart sing? Who (or what kind of person) would be calling, and what would be the invitation? Remember, when putting in your order to the universe, the more specific the better."

Seems a bit spooky, no?

Well, as one who believes in the power of prayer and being intentional about aspirations, I thought I would give it a try. So I prayed that a certain individual from a certain university would get in touch with me about a job opportunity.

The next day, I heard from that person. I kid you not.

Unfortunately it was not a job offer.

But the day after, I heard from another person fro…

Leading In the Crisis - Kelley Eskridge

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Kelley Eskridge, founder of Humans At Work, is on a mission to make managers better. She says: "Bad managers hurt people and business." No argument there. Her manifesto, where she expresses "what we believe good managing is, and why it matters more than anything in business," is well worth reading.

I am pleased to welcome Kelley to this series on Leading In the Crisis.

Fight Fear With Focus by Kelley Eskridge

These are hard and frightening times -- hard because of the financial crisis, frightening because so many of us feel powerless to do anything except watch the world slide away around us.

If this were simply a question of managing money troubles – cutting costs, revamping strategies, becoming more innovative – we’d know what to do without hesitation. But the real challenge we face today as leaders is helping people manage fear.

Fear can be a survival mechanism, but not this kind of fear. When people feel powerless, often we freeze mentally if not physically. We …

The Lesson of the Gold Traders

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Via a discussion on LinkedIn yesterday, I discovered an article, written by management consultant Stephen Jones of Clear Vision Consulting, for the Arab Times, in which he draws an analogy to a ship captain encountering a very bad storm at sea.

Jones writes:

"A local Kuwait businessman related a story the other day about when Kuwaiti traders used to send their sons with the family money in the form of gold over to India. During the voyage, if there was a storm, they would have to throw the cargo overboard, to prevent the boat from sinking and everyone dying.

"The issue, raised by my friend, was that it never occurred to them to throw the sailors out instead, and he went on to say that in today’s market that’s exactly what needs to happen...downsize, cut staff — the most obvious cost!

"In business terms, throwing out the sailors from the ship, instead of the cargo is the same as downsizing, reducing the most obvious cost quickly — the staffing budget... it makes sense r…

Leading In the Crisis - Michael Schaffner

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Just got back from Sunday Mass, where one of our deacons, IT guy (and my partner in the St Matthias Employment Ministry) John Radvanski, preached about the spiritual significance of Barack Obama's use of the slogan "Yes We Can." It's about saying "Yes" and taking charge of the things we can control, and thereby making a difference.

In that same spirit of courageous leadership, our next voice in the Leading In the Crisis series is IT executive and blogger Michael Schaffner. Mike's blog,Beyond Blinking Lights and Acronyms, "is about Information Technology and how we can align it with the business to make IT an integral partner in transforming a company and in achieving its strategies. Hopefully, we'll also learn a little about transforming IT itself along the way." It has been a favorite of mine for years.

The Courage To Lead – by Mike Schaffner

The credit crunch, the mortgage crisis, and all the recession impacts loom over us everyday and our…

Starting A Blog

Lately a few people have been asking me about starting a blog and how to do it. My advice?

Just start.

Don't put pressure on yourself to have it be "the world's best" blog. Just make it real.

Let it be You. Your voice. Your passions.

Write about things that matter to You.

Do that and it will be great.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, February 22, 2009

How Can I Help?

In a report from Canada today, I read: "President Obama and Prime Minister Harper met briefly today . . . One woman in the crowd was asked by a reporter what she would say to President Obama, if she had the chance. She said, "I'd ask him how I could help.""

As companies close, as jobs disappear, as unemployment claims
grow . . .

The question is: How can I help?

A colleague asked me today if this downturn is worse than prior downturns. My own view is that this is the worst I've seen.

Now, more than ever, the onus is on each one of us to figure out what we can do to help.

What actions can You take now to help someone to survive this downturn?

One idea, started by Mark Stelzner, is to become a Job Angel. He writes:

~ "So I wondered, what if each of (us) helped just one person find a job? Could we actually make a difference? Here’s the original Tweet: “Was thinking that if each of us helped just 1 person find a job, we could start making a dent in unemployme…

Popping Up

Lately I have been lucky enough to pop up on a couple sites:

- David Zinger's blog where I am this week's featured responder to Engage-5:

Terrence Seamon’s 5 sentences on engagement:

1. I define employee engagement as a relationship where the commitment between an employee and the organization is high, mutual, and positive.

2. A big challenge in employee engagement is maintaining engagement during difficult change.

3. A powerful way to create greater engagement is to connect with people and collaborate on creating the future.

4. I am personally most engaged at work when I am aligned with the goals and empowered to pursue them.

5. To learn more about engagement, I encourage people to join the Employee Engagement Network.


- and Slacker Manager as a guest blogger, where Phil Gerbyshak published my essay "Believe in Yourself."

Thanks David & Phil.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, February 16, 2009

Live And Learn

My mother Ramona had a lot of sayings. One that I've written about before is "Life is what you make it."

Another one of hers is "Live and learn." That's got to be one of the most economical maxims ever coined. It's probably shortened from something like, "You live it and you learn it."

Often uttered after you have made a mistake of some kind, it's a mother's way of saying, "Now don't be stupid. Learn the lesson from what you just did, and don't do it again."

Yesterday, a colleague on ODNET sent an email with a quote from the novelist Doris Lessing:

~ “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”

What I think Lessing is saying is that learning is a function of awakening, and throughout our lives, as we grow and change, we keep awakening over and over again. Everything old is new again.

I think my mom would agree with that.

PS - My wife Joan just asked me w…

Leading In the Crisis - Ron Hurst

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I mentioned in a prior post that I would be inviting some leadership thinkers to be guest bloggers on the topic of leading in the crisis. Several have agreed already, including Don Blohowiak and Kelley Eskridge.

To start us off, here is Ron Hurst. Based on the West Coast, Ron is a working manager as well as a passionate blogger whose Developing Leaders blog is a great source of inspiration for developing leadership potential.

In this piece, Ron addresses the importance of preserving one's values during crisis.

Do Not Abandon Your Leadership Values by Ron Hurst

For the past several weeks, as our economy has slipped into an ever worsening recession, I have found myself wracking my brain with critical questions.

- Am I leading effectively?

- Is there more I can do?

- Can I avoid some of the tough choices that lie in front of me?

All the while we see the media outlets scrambling to publish articles on how to survive the recession, how to lead in difficult times.

Honestly, I am beginning to…

Smart Moves

I just came across an IT webinar called "Smart Moves for Critical Times," being offered by i365, a Seagate company.

Smart Moves for Critical Times is a great title! My compliments to whoever came up with that.

And I think its relevance goes way beyond IT, to all other facets of organizations. Let's touch on four other applications of "smart moves for critical times."

~ Smart Moves for Job Hunters

Yesterday, I attended a talk for HR folks who are in transition, given by my networking buddy Steve Kowitz, the head of HR for a healthcare company in New Jersey. Among the many excellent points that he brought up, Steve emphasized planning, research, and networking. Here are a few of his tidbits:

- Think of your job search like a sales campaign.

- Get out of the house and join networking groups.

- Expect rejection. Stay positive. Move on.

Smart moves for sure.

~ Smart Moves for OD Practitioners

Last week, I attended the February meeting of the New Jersey Organization Developmen…

The Big Question for February

The Big Question for February, at Tony Karrer's Learning Circuits Blog, is:

~ What is the impact of the economy on you and your organization? What are you doing as a result?

That is the question I've been wrestling with since the downsizing in October that tossed me into the job market.

What have I been doing? In addition to an energetic job search campaign, I have also been blogging like crazy to help others, including two series:

- The Engaging Voices project that has so far featured the stellar line-up of David Zinger, Tim Wright, Michael Lee Stallard, Phil Gerbyshak, and Judy Bardwick.

- The Leading In the Crisis series that is exploring the kinds of leadership responses we need in this period of upheaval. I will be inviting some thought leaders to join this series as well.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, February 9, 2009

Leading in the Crisis - 2

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry called "Leading in the Crisis," where I listed some of the key qualities that leaders need in this economic downturn.

In the subsequent weeks, I realized that much more needs to be said on this. So now it's a series, and here is the second installment.

At LinkedIn, consultant Robert "Jake" Jacobs asked "What kind of leadership is needed after layoffs?"

After a layoff, those who remain experience a mixture of emotions, including:

- shock at what happened

- sadness that some of their friends were fired

- anger toward management for failing to find alternatives to layoff

- fear that they might be let go in the next round

On top of that, the work that was being done by the former employees must now be distributed to those who remain.

The resulting workplace climate: overwork, stress, anxiety, and fear.

How do you lead in this sort of environment? I'd point to three vital skills for leaders at any level in an organization.

1. Le…

Engaging Voices - Judith Bardwick

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Next in the Engaging Voices project, I'm thrilled to present consultant and author Dr. Judith Bardwick, whose latest book, One Foot Out the Door, has been described as "required reading for HR strategists."

Judy is passionate about the topics of commitment and engagement. She has pointed out that the key to good management, and indeed business success, is the relationship between the employee and his or her boss.

In the following piece (which is excerpted from a longer essay that will appear soon at her blog), Judy's aim is to emphasize perspective. She says: "Never forget the media focus on what’s terrible and rarely report good news. Naturally this strengthens a half-empty, pessimistic view. Even now when the headlines scream that unemployment is rising toward 10 percent, it’s critical to remember that also means 90 percent of the population are employed. The bottle is at least somewhat full."

The End Is Not Near by Dr. Judith Bardwick

This blog is for peop…

Doing Things Half Right

Way back when during the Quality movement, there was a phrase called "dirty feet" which referred to DIRTFT or "Do It Right the First Time."

To do something right the first time meant that you had to think before acting, define the problem to be solved, gather relevant data, develop a plan, perhaps even run a pilot test and see what you could learn from it. All before actual implementation.

I think "dirty feet" made sense then, and still makes sense now.

However, in a intriguing little blog post, consultant Peter Bregman offers some thoughts about times when you might want to do something half right.

Bregman points out that many carefully planned large scale organizational changes fail when rolled out. Some organizational changes are so fully baked that the intended recipients choke on the results.

If you want the end user to embrace the change, Bregman suggests: release it half-baked. And engage the recipients in a conversation around how to make it work.

My …

Engaging Voices - Phil Gerbyshak

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To kick off the Engaging Voices series for the month of February, here is blogger Phil Gerbyshak and his article "Ask More Questions to Engage Others." Phil writes management and employee engagement articles at Slacker Manager. His upcoming book The Help Desk Manager's Crash Course Guide is due out in April of 2009.

Ask More Questions to Engage Others' Voices by Phil Gerbyshak

One of the best ways to get employee engagement is to listen to others' voices, for you are not alone in your quest to engage employees.

How do you listen to others' voices?

Start by asking yourself "What will I do with the feedback I get from these other voices?" If you're not willing to listen and take action on the trends you hear from those you ask questions of, don't ask.

Assuming you will be open to any and all feedback you receive, ask yourself one more question: "What's in it for the people I'm going to ask these questions?" You must frame your qu…