Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Breaking A Leg

There's an old saying in the theater world, "Break a leg," that means "Good luck," said to actors before they go on-stage to perform. How did such a saying originate and become a way of offering good wishes before a show? Beats me. Reading the wikipedia article on "break a leg" left me as mystified as before.

This past weekend, a wonderful illustration of this saying occurred when the star of the Rutgers Livingston Theater Company's production of The Who's Tommy, Tyler Ableson, broke his leg at rehearsal. Though he fractured his leg in four places, he went on with the show! His leg in a cast from toes to knee, crutches at the ready for much of the show, and fellow cast members (including my son Dave, who played "Cousin Kevin") poised to lift him in a few scenes, Tyler (who fronts a rock band called Jade) carried off the demanding rock concert performance for four shows.

I was quite impressed, to say the least. Though in pain much of the time, Tyler pushed through. He and The Company were determined to deliver a rousing performance of The Who's Tommy. And they did.

My son Dave told me last night that Tyler is scheduled for surgery today, and will be getting several pins to knit his bones back together. As I write this entry, I am offering a healing prayer for Tyler and I hope you will join me in offering one of your own for this courageous lad.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 27, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Engaging Leader

Lately, in conducting management training for my clients, I find that the hot topic of employee engagement keeps coming up.

Recent research says that the more engaged a workforce, the higher the profitability of the company. It also says that among the factors that most influence employee engagement, the quality and effectiveness of the company's managers is foremost.

So here's the question: What does a good manager do to engage himself and others and become an Engaging Leader?

I'll kick off the brainstorming with a few practices that I stress when I train Managers:

- Align & Appreciate: These two practices are about High Focus. By Aligning, the Engaging Leader gets everyone focused on where the company is going (Goals, Objectives and Plans) and how each person can play a part in getting it there. By Appreciating, the Engaging Leader gets to know each person on his or her team, especially their talents, their strengths, their aspirations, and their life concerns.

- Listen & Learn: These two practices illustrate the Leading By Example principle. By Listening, the Engaging Leader adopts an open posture, receptive to all points of view, even those that are different from his or her own. By Learning, the Engaging Leader continues to grow, replenishing and revitalizing his or her own sources of creativity.

- Involve & Improve: These two practices tap into the human yearning for Purpose and the desire to Participate. By Involving, the Engaging Leader treats each person like a partner in the business and asks "What do you think?" By Improving, the Engaging Leader uses collaboration and teamwork to find better ways to do things, solutions to operating problems, and even innovations that can lead to breakthroughs for the company.

- Communicate & Coach: These two practices, along with the next two, are the key to High Performance. By Communicating, the Engaging Leader establishes a clear channel of dialogue with each member of the team so that information and ideas flow back and forth continuously, resulting in Understanding and Commitment. By Coaching, the Engaging Leader gives on-going performance feedback to each of his or her players, supporting and encouraging them to do their very best.

- Energize & Empower: These two practices replace the old "Command and Control" model of leadership with a new model based on motivation and trust. By Energizing, the Engaging Leader activates the excitement of Mission, tapping into the human desire for autonomy, for self-determination, and for self-mastery. By Empowering, the Engaging leader galvanizes and authorizes the team to Execute, to decide how best to get to where its going, trusting that a well-trained team will use its resources wisely to reach a high quality decision.

By doing these ten practices consistently and continuously, the Engaging Leader models these behaviors for the team, creating and sustaining an Engaging Culture.

What do you say?

This post was written by Terrence Seamon, April 17, 2010. For more leadership and employee engagement tips like this, check out Terry’s website Facilitation Solutions and invite him into your organization as a speaker.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Where To From Here?

Quite often in life, things happen --disappointment, setbacks, loss-- and we are forced to stop and think: OK. Now what? Where to from here?

What's very useful is to have a sense of purpose, an inner compass, that you can consult to regain your bearings...and decide on your next course of action.

At LinkedIn, Dr. Richard Norris posed a challenging question: In one word, what is your purpose?

Though a lot of personally meaningful words swiftly swam through my head (including Love, Creativity, and Spirit), the one I selected is CHANGE:

C = Communicate openly and often

H = Help folks through the transition

A = Align around PURPOSE & MISSION

N = Navigate from the "as is" to the "to be"

G = Galvanize into ACTION

E = Empower and engage

In my consulting work with leaders, as well as my coaching work with job hunters, the question often is "Where to from here?"

And the answer is "Change."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, April 9, 2010