leadership dot #2001: resurgence

It seems like Thanksgiving is gaining respect as a holiday instead of being lost in the pre-Christmas frenzy:

  • I received Thanksgiving cards in the mail from my insurance agent, financial planner and Hallmark.
  • Yesterday my email inbox was filled with notes of gratitude from everyone from my credit union to Joe Biden!
  • Stores are selling collections of Thanksgiving clothing for kids.
  • A previous dot highlighted how Target was consciously reducing the Christmas Creep.

Maybe Thanksgiving is making a resurgence because people are feeling the need to find good things to celebrate. Maybe people are recognizing the important role gratitude can play in their lives. Or maybe it is just seen as another marketing opportunity.

Whatever the reasons, include Thanksgiving in your organization’s planning for next year. It’s always the right time to be grateful for clients and vendors who make your work possible.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for reading leadership dots!

leadership dot #2000: milestone

Nearly a half-million words (497,122) and 11,740 paragraphs later, I share dot #2000 with you. Just as I am astounded that it is Thanksgiving already, I also wonder how I got to two thousand entries. My answer: the same way that I amassed 11,803 buttons: one at a time.

When I started accumulating buttons, I had no grand plan about lining the length of my house with my collection. I just had a few buttons on a bulletin board. And then a few more. When I reached #2000 (after 14 years), my dad made me a special button to commemorate the occasion. It seemed an appropriate way to acknowledge this entry, too.

When I first started writing, I looked to blogger Seth Godin for tactic guidance on how to do it. He wrote every day (including weekends), so I did too. He used short pithy titles, so mine are as well. Seth just posted his blog #7000 – will I follow in those footsteps as well?

If there is a lesson I learn through the dots it is to make a commitment and follow through with it – whether you are in the mood or not. If I wrote only when I felt like it, I would have about 20 blogs instead of 100 times that.

Leadership dots are lessons to inspire you to create a cumulative pattern of intentional culture change, one dot at a time. I hope you have learned something in the past 5 ½ years that has helped you connect the dots in your personal and organizational lives.

leadership dot #1999: no regrets

I have a wise brother-in-law who lives by the mantra of no regrets. “We make the best decision that we can with the information available at the time, then move on to make the next best decision,” he said. They are words to live by.

How much time have you wasted lamenting personal or professional decisions that are not able to be changed? No matter how much I regret that I did not see Michael Jordan play in person even though I lived an hour from the United Center, that opportunity is permanently lost. No need to compound it by spending more time wishing I had. We waste time second-guessing decisions that are now done deals as if beating ourselves up over something will make us smarter the next time. It won’t.

Few people intentionally set out to be reckless or careless. Give yourself a break and accept that the door you chose made the most sense at the time.

leadership dot #1998: answers

How often have you been in a meeting where the pretense was to gather input, but really the person in charge already had determined all the answers?

At a recent event, I participated in an icebreaker that can help you to illustrate this point in a light-hearted and humorous way.

One participant was given a plate with strips of paper marked QUESTIONS. The person sitting next to them was given a plate with strips marked ANSWERS. Person A drew a question then person B drew an answer to respond to it. All of the answers are interchangeable, and some provide hilarious combinations. After person B answers, the plate of QUESTIONS is passed to them and the ANSWERS are given to person C and it keeps going around the table until everyone has asked and answered a question.

For example:

Q. Would you like to be a millionaire?
A. No, once I tried, but it ended up a disaster.

Q. Do you have any shortcomings?
A. People do not speak about it aloud.

Q. Do you love children?
A. During my lunch hour.

Use this to show the futility of having pre-conceived answers without acknowledging what the question is – or just use it as a fun icebreaker at your next event (or Thanksgiving dinner). It avoids that awkwardness of not knowing what to say because the answers are provided for you!

(Get a sample list of questions and answers here.)

Thanks to Kayla Morrison for sharing.

leadership dot #1997: tunnel

I never set out to get a doctorate; I just took one class because I was interested in the legal aspects of higher education. But one class led to another and then to another and then, in 1997, I earned my degree.

The classes, my defense and graduation are all a blur, but what I remember vividly about this process was the day I finished my final draft and took it to the on-campus mail room (yes, we had to send hard copies!) to send out to my committee. There, outside the drop-off window, was my whole staff and a gathering of other employees who made a cheer tunnel for me to walk through en route to the delivery.

That simple act of recognition cost them nothing, but it still gives me goosebumps to think about it all these many years later.

When you want to show someone that you really care, it does not need to be a lavish gift or even a tangible item. Sentiment from the heart is much more valuable than objects.

Photo source: http://www.eac.nsw.edu

leadership dot #1996: posted

Most people know that there is a law requiring employers to post certain job regulations in a prominent place for employees to have access to them: things like non-discrimination clauses, employee rights, minimum wage and other legal notices. But what happens when there is no office or break-room bulletin board?

This situation occurred on a recent construction project on my street. In addition to all the equipment and road signs that were delivered came a big sheet of plywood with notices in plastic holders. This board is sitting out by the mailboxes, presumably for the workers to have access to the required documents. I doubt anyone has read it!

When government officials were drafting the law, I am sure it made good sense to them to require employers to share the information with their employees and to have the notices posted in a prominent location. In their world of offices and meetings, it would be an easy thing to do only no one thought through the various situations in which posting would be ludicrous instead of practical.

Before you require everyone to do something, pause for a moment and think of the hardships this may cause others. It is far better to legislate the intent instead of prescribing the method.

leadership dot #1995: Generation Z

There is a lot of attention being paid to the Millennial generation right now when in reality, it would behoove organizations to spend as much effort preparing for Generation Z. Gen Z, as it is lovingly known, represents the generation born between 1995-ish and 2010 or so. They are the college students of today and the leaders of tomorrow, representing a quarter of the population and soon will have a significant impact on the workforce.

Gen Z grew up with technology and social media integrated into their lives. They have communicated all their lives through screens and will expect the use of technology to be pervasive in their organizations. Gen Z uses this technology to make their lives easier and to receive information/action on demand. Gen Z wants a work/life blend – and the ability to use the resources available to them to work from anywhere at anytime. They are more interested in the community than just themselves and also have a strong interest in entrepreneurship.

Think about the world in which Gen Z grew up: they never had to learn how to use technology – it was omnipresent since they were born. They carry this expectation onto campus and into the workforce, requiring organizations to rethink how they handle processes and transactions of all types. Yet Gen Z is not looking to automate everything; they value experiences, one-to-one interactions and being involved in decisions.

Gen Z employees or entrepreneurs will be the ones to lead efforts on 3D printing, wearable technology, driverless cars, artificial intelligence and workplace inclusion. They will continue the movement to integrate smart learning into every facet of life and become active designers of both social and economic change.

As an organization leader, you can embrace their thinking and be inspired by Gen Z or try to hold on to more established ways of operating. Succeed by articulating and providing value, creating experiences that allow them to interact and paying attention to the user experience. Ready or not, Gen Z is coming and bringing a wave of optimism and motivation that will benefit us all.