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Discover the clown within

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How do you feel about clowns?

Some like them. Others are terrified of them.

Many years ago, probably back in late 70's/early 80's, I met someone who was seriously dedicated to clown work. Doing clown work was her ministry.
When she talked about it, you had to be impressed. She was part of an international network of clowns (I can't recall its name, sorry) that had conventions, speakers, workshops, publications etc.
Some of the fragments I can recall from her sharing...being a clown is serious work...a ministry...with the power to help relax, de-stress, laugh, let go, imagine and heal.
I read a piece online about clown work that discusses "discovering the clown within."
While I wouldn't claim to be a clown (in the official sense of my friend the clown), I have definitely done my share of clowning around. Who is making faces in the family photo album? Me.
Fooling around has always come naturally to me. I love it when some silly stunt of mine makes others laugh.
Making…

Impacting the Culture - Part 3

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While there is no silver bullet, no one magic answer for improving the culture of your organization, in this series (part 1, part 2), I have offered a number of ideas for getting started.  There are ways that have been tried and tested. It is possible to undertake the journey toward impacting your organization's culture in a meaningful way.


"If you want to change the culture, you will have to start by changing yourself."


To sum up, here is a little "magic"


Mirror - Look into the mirror. It all starts there. Know thyself.

Assess - Assess your own current impact on your organization's culture.

Gather - Gather input from the system, members and stakeholders.

Imagine - Imagine your organization at its best.

Convene - Convene everyone around making positive change.

So go forth and make a difference in your culture!

Bonus Thought:  One additional idea came from a colleague this morning:  Follow the example of the TV show Undercover Boss. Go to your front-line and find o…

Impacting the Culture - Part 2

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Continuing with some additional tips for members of a Board and the executive team that want to have a positive impact on the culture of their organization, here are some ideas for the next phase of the process.

4. Use your Imagination - The poet once said "Nothing happens unless first a dream." Leaders, What is your dream for the culture of your organization? Imagine it at its best. What are the values?  What are the actions?  What are the outcomes?

5. Gather the System - With a nod to Marv Weisbord who gave us the maxim "Get the whole system in the room," leaders should extend an invitation to all the members of their organization, as well as all key stakeholders, to join in the process started in point # 4. Get everyone's imaginations activated.

Get people into groups. Equip each group with flipcharts, markers, and facilitators. Give them the "green light" to unfetter their thinking about how great the organization can be.

6. Think Big, Start Smal…

Impacting the Culture - Part 1

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A colleague of mine is writing an article about culture and how members of the Board and the executive team impact it. He asked for input on tips and ideas to include.

In thinking about some tips for his consideration, a few occurred to me.

1. Start with You - Because an organization's culture reflects the actions and values of its leaders, it seems to me that before anything else, a leader must start with the person that he or she sees in the mirror each morning. As the Michael Jackson song lyric says: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make a change.”

2. Everything You Do Teaches - As a member of the Board or the executive team, you set the tone and the pace for your organization. Your actions (and inaction's) carry weight. Your influence is felt. As my pastor Fr. Doug Haefner is fond of saying to his staff and to the pastoral council, "Everything you do teaches."

3. Be mindful of Yourself - Are you aware of your presence? O…

New Job, New You

When you start a new job, it can be a roller coaster ride. So much to learn! And you want to get started on the right foot, as they say.

Here are five tips for the first 100 days.

Situate - By accepting the job offer, you have situated yourself in a whole new place. A new context. You must now start to position yourself. Where are you now? What is your new position? What team are you on? Who is your customer?  The sooner you can get a good sense of your new situation, the better.

Measures - How will you be measured by the organization? What is expected of you? How will you be evaluated? What outcomes are others expecting from you?

Align - Vital to your success in a new position is alignment. To align means to arrange yourself in such a way that your thinking and your efforts are in support of the team you are now a part of. What are the goals and objectives of your new boss, your new team? What contribution can you make?

Relationships - Nothing gets done in business organizations without …

A Whole New You - Part 2

A client sat down with me and started talking about what he is looking for next in his career. I couldn't help but smile as he expressed his desire for a meaningful job where he can make a difference in people's lives.
My smile was one of recognition. I was recognizing in my client a yearning I have felt in myself: to do more with my life that just hold down a job.
One of the keys to happiness, I have learned, is to seek meaning in life. When we find meaningful work to do, it doesn't feel like work. We lose track of time when we are doing it. We are swept away.

Psychologists call it "flow." And flow can be found by seeking work that calls us.

What work is calling you?

A wonderful model to ponder in this regard was developed by a vocational psychologist named John Holland and described in the book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles.

Holland identified six occupational types, summarized by the letters RIASEC, and created an assessment tool to help e…

A New Approach to Leadership Development

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Leadership is a critical component of success. An organization cannot hope to function without it.
There is much that goes into leadership. For example, aligning everyone in the organization around the What and the Why and then getting out of the way so that the people can get on with the work.
But in "getting out of the way," effective leadership does not abdicate. Rather it functions best as a surrounding field, as Kurt Lewin or Margaret Wheatley might say.
For decades, organizations around the world have invested in developing their leaders. Now some are questioning whether we have gotten a suitable return on the investment.
Maybe the approach has been wrong. Thus far, leadership development has focused on developing individuals into leaders by teaching skills.
What if we looked at it a different way? What if, instead of developing leaders, we started to develop leadership itself?
What is "leadership itself" then?
Consider this favorite leadership quote of mine, attrib…

A Whole New You - Part 1

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The job market right now is tough, generally speaking.

If you are a Twenty-Something engineering graduate, you will likely be snapped right up into a well-paying job with a bright vista of career progression ahead of you.
But if you are a seasoned pro in your Fifties or Beyond, and you find yourself displaced, you may be in for a very rude awakening. You've heard the litany: you are too old; you were making too much money; you won't stay long; you aren't adaptable. The list goes on.
Is there an answer?
While it is not a Quick Fix, the answer is, Go Into the Wasteland.
Just like the heroes in ancient myth had to journey into the desert to find meaning and renewal, you have before you the same opportunity.

In this series of posts, I'll be sharing some tips on ways to make the most of your sojourn in the desert, aimed at helping you emerge stronger and more focused on what you want out of life.
First, you have to believe in yourself. This phase of your life will test you great…

The Power of Consulting

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In the picture to the left, you are seeing the matzo ball soup team from 2016. Pictured with me are my sister-in-law Susan and her daughter Victoria. We were making soup with love for a gathering after Holy Thursday services at my church. We have been hosting this gathering for many years now. We call it "Holy Fest" and it's our way of celebrating the ending of the season of Lent and the starting of the Triduum, the three days that culminate in Easter. Because many of those who attend Holy Fest are members of our church choir, we sing through the score to "Jesus Christ Superstar" during the party. It's a true highlight of the year, as several of us who love to sing can "let loose" and enact the drama of the passion of Jesus. You might say that Holy Fest is sort of our Seder tradition. Now back to the soup. In the past several years, a problem developed with the soup: the balls did not hold together, disintegrating into loose mush. What was causin…

EX - The New Movement in HR?

In the past few years, there has been a growing movement in HR called "Employee Experience" or EX for short.
Taking a page from the Customer Service field, where a great deal of thought and energy has gone into CX, for Customer Experience, these smart HR leaders have started to recognize that employees, like customers, have experiences whereby they form impressions --good or bad-- of their employer.
Stop and think about some of the ways that employees experience their employers... The candidate who is flown from New Jersey to California for an interview and enjoys the treatment he receives including having all expenses paid by the company.The new hire who goes through an onboarding process that is informative and enjoyable, and includes one-on-ones with key people in the organization.The employee who sits with her manager on an annual basis for a development planning discussion that also touches on career development.The soon-to-retire employee who is recognized for their se…

Is Consulting in Your Future?

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Quite a few of my clients wonder if they should change their career path and go into consulting.Yesterday, I was being interviewed by someone who is thinking of making just such a career change. He had asked if he could "pick my brains" about what I do and how I do it.At one point in the call, he interjected that "It sounds like you are a counselor or a coach quite often." I responded that I prefer to use the term consultant.In my view, we are consultants because we are there to help the client achieve his or her goals. As a consultant, we bring a deep capability, but we don't apply it like a cookie cutter. Rather, we listen, assess, and recommend, using what Edgar Schein would call "humble inquiry."My interviewer pressed me to describe my process so I attempted to describe it (see below)...but added that actual engagements are seldom so neat and linear. Consulting ProcessPhase 1: Assess - Start with where my client "is at" right now. Explo…