leadership dot #2025: giving wreaths

During the holiday season, many people are feeling generous and are inclined to contribute to a charity, but organizations must think creatively to make an appeal that stands out from all the other requests. Rush Copley Hospital has done that with their Giving Wreaths.

Employees or departments at the hospital choose to decorate a wreath. The wreaths are first displayed along the glass windows in the main entranceway, making for festive décor, and then anyone can purchase a raffle ticket for $2 and indicate which wreath they would like to win.

The Giving Wreaths have become a competition of pride among the participants and you can tell that much time and love went into making them. Wreaths each have a theme: Christmas on the Beach, Making Spirits Bright (with alcohol bottles), or Sugar Plum Fairy (with candy and sweets).

Think of how you can make your holiday donation drive serve multiple purposes: engaging employees, decorating your space, entertaining visitors and raising money. The wreaths accomplish all these things and may be an idea to adapt for your elves next year.

leadership dot #2024: expedite

Especially at this time of year, retailers are trying to move customers through the check out lines as quickly as possible. They have opened up extra lanes, set up roping to manage the lines and often have additional staff on hand. But why not involve the customers in efforts to expedite the flow?

The Ross stores capitalized on customer participation by putting a hanger stand in their lines. While customers waited, they could take the clothing off the hangers to facilitate the checkout and bagging process. Ross framed this task in a positive light: “Get your treasures home faster. If you’d like, remove your hangers and place them here.”

From the looks of the stands, many consumers were happy to oblige. Think of how you can engage your clientele to facilitate goals that are important to both of you and make everyone a bit more jolly.

leadership dot #2023: home stretch

I recently helped my sister complete the home stretch of submitting her doctoral dissertation. My job was to proofread the paper, help with formatting and put the list of references in proper APA style. We spent 13 hours a day, for two days, engrossed at the kitchen table completing these tasks.

In addition to learning proper comma placement for a government document/no author citation, it brought to light how we often underestimate the time it takes to create and maintain a solid infrastructure. For this paper, it required an extended period of time just to print the 216 pages, let alone proof them. I made substantial progress on a reading book while sitting at the printer waiting for the job to complete.

Our two days together was also a reminder that people bring different strengths to the table. My sister is visionary and excels at the big picture, but would have gone nuts if she had to plod through APA to get her references in order. She could do it, but it would have been harrowing. I can’t say that the task was fun for me either, but it was far better suited to my temperament.

On the next big project that you encounter, think about my sister’s dissertation. Remember that the message will be weakened if the mechanics become a distraction, so allow much more time than you expect to attend to the details and finishing touches. Find a partner with a different skill set than you have to complement the assignment of tasks and make them more palatable for all. And, of course, have more paper and toner on hand than you anticipate!

The last two days turned a draft into a dissertation. The devil isn’t in the details; the magic is.

P.S. Today is her defense: congratulations to Dr. Amy!!

leadership dot #2022: prepared

Before a snow flurry fell, I took dozens of actions to get prepared for the impending change of seasons:

Outdoors, I cleared the patio, put the hammock and grill away, moved plants indoors, cut back all the bushes, removed the hose, put my snow tires on and brought in the bird bath then the bird feeders. Inside I moved the sweaters to the prime drawer, put my sandals away, threw an extra cover on the bed, took the polish off my toes and ended pedicures. I stopped cutting the grass, bagged all the leaves and swapped the lawn mower for the snow blower in the garage.

Mother Nature sent all kinds of signals that winter was coming: the water in the dog’s dish freezes, the plants die, and gradually I go from wearing sweaters to coats to coats/mittens/scarf/hat. No one told me to stop wearing shorts or to turn off the air conditioner – it just made sense to do it.

Organizations should model their change efforts after the change in seasons. Help people understand what is coming and allow them to take steps along the way to prepare themselves physically and mentally for what is ahead. Point out the positives – like pomegranates, sweet potato fries, dogs on the bed at night and hot cocoa. Help them make minor adjustments to become ready for the new reality.

A night of steady 50mph winds brought us winter overnight and we went from 60 degrees to 30 degrees for highs. We may not like the change, but we were ready for it – which may be all you can ask for in your organization.

leadership dot #2021: waiting

While the hustle and bustle of the holidays swirled around me, I found myself sitting in a room with my siblings, aunt and uncle with nothing to do. We were all at the hospital while my mom underwent surgery so no one wanted to leave, but there was really no other option except to sit and wait. And tell stories.

We talked more in those few hours than we have in the past year. We heard about our grandparents, our mom growing up, what the third cousins are doing and other family news that would normally not be shared except via Facebook.

I see these relatives every Christmas, but normally the conversation revolves around the basketball game on television, what presents were under the tree, the meal and its preparation/clean up or other trivial chat. There are so many diversions and so many in attendance that the dialogue is exchanged in snippets, not paragraphs, unlike during the long hours in the hospital waiting room.

Don’t wait for a somber occasion to slow down the clock and have a good old-fashioned story hour with some of your relatives. Use the upcoming holiday gatherings to pull up a chair and actually talk with each other, sans technology, and learn a bit more about those roots on your family tree.

leadership dot #2020: spelling

For many people, myself included, dictionaries are about the spelling and looking up how to properly do that vs learning what the meaning or root cause of the word might be. One of my very favorite apps is dictionary.com. It says a lot about how I spend my time!

Having an electronic version makes it nice that I don’t have to lug a big dictionary around with me, but what I really love is the “did you mean?” feature. When you look up words in a print version— presumably because you don’t know how to spell them, you are left with no assistance if you are off the mark. But dictionary.com will provide you with a whole list of related or possible suggestions — and presto you can insert it and be in your way.

Think about how your organization operates. Are you like the print dictionary where all the information is there and fully accessible to clients — IF they know what to ask or where to look? Or are you like the app where you provide all the same resources PLUS anticipate what your clients might really mean and give it to them in that format instead?

There is a reason the print version is yellowing on my shelf.