leadership dot #3425: treat

There’s a story circulating on Facebook about a group of boys who donned their white shirts, black sportcoats, and ear jacks to dress up as Secret Service men for Halloween. The costumes came about to allow their friend to participate in street clothes — posing as the President — because his religion does not allow him to wear a costume.

It would have been easy to say that their friend “can’t” participate, but instead, the boys displayed creativity in their quest for inclusion. When we want something badly enough, we almost always find ways to achieve it.

Remember these boys the next time you’re ready to be tricked into saying that something “can’t” be done. There is probably an alternative way to get that treat if you work at it.

Credit: Suzanne Paragano Kane #LoveWhatMatters

leadership dots #3424: instructions

With people taking multiple pills each day, it’s easy to get confused about which drug to take when. Fortunately, prescription bottles have come a long way in providing clarity and ease of use. The bottles from CVS are clearly marked as to how many to take at which time of day, hopefully improving the accuracy of administration and thus the effectiveness of the medicine.

Think of what is the equivalent of a “pill bottle” in your organization. Is there something that often trips people up that you could rework to provide ease of use? Do you have instructions that could be re-designed to become more readable and user-friendly? Perhaps you can incorporate color or symbols to more effectively convey your directions?

We often focus on the product or service, but if people don’t access it correctly all is for naught. Don’t make getting there a hard pill to swallow. Take the time to ensure that your instructions are as helpful as what they are directing people to use.

leadership dot #3423: pokey

I was driving behind a very slow driver and became irritated at his pokiness. Finally, the road turned to four lanes and I was able to pass him. I was feeling so satisfied!

And then I had to stop at a red light, and wouldn’t you know it, Pokey pulls up right next to me. We ended up being at the same place after all.

I think life often flows like this. We feel like we are getting behind, but really it is just the rhythms that change. We get ahead or feel like we’re lagging, but in the end, often equilibrium is restored and we are right where we are supposed to be.

The next time you are frustrated by a slow driver or feeling smug about passing one, remember that the road of life has many stoplights. Stay focused on your own journey without comparing it to those driving next to you.

leadership dot #3422: dinosaur

I have a friend who has been interviewing for the same job since August. He went to multiple in-person interviews plus had to do a presentation but still has not finished the process. The company is a 9-5, in-person only, formal dress kind of place — and that, combined with their antiquated interviewing process makes me think that they are less than progressive with their culture and way of operating.

And yet, in the latest interview, the vice president commented on how they were a fast-moving company that was able to pivot quickly. The misalignment between how they see themselves and how they act is a red flag. It’s one thing to work at a place that follows traditional practices, but worrisome when the leadership doesn’t realize that their human resources are anything but cutting edge.

It’s easy to get so used to the culture that you can’t see it from an external perspective. Counteract this by capitalizing on your new hires or using external groups to get a reality check on how you are perceived by those who aren’t ingrained in the organization. It’s ok to be a dinosaur, but not ok to be one and think you’re a cheetah.

leadership dot #3421: refuse

You’ve heard of young people being encouraged to take a pledge not to drink and drive, or not to have sex before a certain age, etc. But rather than focus on the youth, a coalition in Taos New Mexico is asking the adults to take a pledge to not give alcohol to minors.

In many public places throughout the city, there are banners encouraging people to REFUSE to provide alcohol to youth. The banners cite many of the reasons for doing so: kids who wait to drink have better outcomes, the brain is not developed until age 25, and those who drink early will develop alcohol disorders later in life, etc.

It is an interesting tactic to address a vexing problem. It’s extremely hard for young people to resist the peer pressure to drink, but ultimately it is the adults that are supplying the alcohol. By putting peer pressure on the adults to stop providing, Taos leaders hope to make a dent in their youth drinking that is double the state rate.

Do you have a parallel situation where a change of audience may be more effective toward solving the problem? If your message isn’t reaching those who are most impacted, you may benefit from following Taos’ lead and switching up who you seek to enlist in providing the solution.

leadership dot #3420: leaves

The tree outside my window has all green leaves — except for one patch of red. This small section of the foliage turned colors while the rest did not and it looks very much out of place.

I think that leaders often feel like those red leaves — standing apart from the rest of the group, feeling isolated, and often wondering if something is “wrong” with them. “Why don’t they conform?” the others may ask.

If find yourself in a position like those leaves — or see others who are — embrace their leadership and willingness to be first. Instead of wondering why only part is red, maybe the real question is why the greens haven’t joined in.

leadership dot #3419: impulse

Bill Hewlett, the co-founder of technology giant Hewlett-Packard, lived by a simple motto: “Never stifle a generous impulse.” He gave of his time, his talents, and his money as he helped grow both a company and hundreds of the people who worked within it.

I’ve had many “generous impulses” along that way that I never acted upon. It would be nice to make dinner for a widowed neighbor but cooking is not my forté. It would be generous to volunteer to help at an event but I’m busy with other things. I should call a friend to check on her but I put that off until “later.”

When I really think about it, there have been too many times when I have been generous only when it was convenient to do so. Hewlett’s motto resonated with me as I thought of how much joy I could have brought others if I had just acted on the impulses I had.

So, I’m working hard to adopt his motto as my own. Will you join me?

leadership dot #3418: beautiful

A friend asked for a glass of water at a restaurant and this is what she received:

It was beautiful: a tall glass with hollow rectangle cubes, and an extra touch of garnish to set it off. It would have been just as easy to provide a plain drink — as everyone else does — but what an effective and inexpensive way to set yourself apart.

What is the equivalent of the beautiful glass of water in your organization? Add an extra touch to something you offer and delight your customers. The goodwill transfers to the perception of your entire offering as well as reminding your staff that going above and beyond is part of your culture.

leadership dot #3417: palm oil

What’s the link between Halloween and orangutans? Palm oil.

Palm oil is the most widely used edible oil, grown in tropical forests that are also home to the orangutans. As the demand for palm oil grows, deforestation is having an impact on greenhouse gasses and the habitat of the orangutans, tigers, and rhinos.

To counteract this for Halloween buy your candy from companies that are members of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (who knew there was such a group?). These goodies are made with oils that are harvested in sustainable ways — treating both your visitors and the planets well.

As you stock up for next weekend’s festivities, don’t get tricked into buying goodies that look sweet but have a sour impact on the forest.

Learn more about sustainable purchasing from the Cheyenne Zoo’s Sustainable Shopping Guide.

leadership dot #3416: deep

I watched a panel discussion with the members of Spotlight, the Boston Globe investigative unit that won a Pulitzer for their coverage of priest abuse in the Catholic Church. I was a journalism major and have a special affinity for those in the news, especially today when investigative journalism is more important than ever.

The panelists shared that one of the gifts of the unit is the luxury of having time to truly research a story, conduct follow up, file information requests, put pressure on people to get the story, and be persistent enough to “get the information from people that don’t want to give it to us.” Having extended time to research a story frees them from the pressures of a daily deadline and allows them to not only research the story and write it but also to add the interactive multimedia elements that allow their findings to resonate with a broader audience and have a greater impact.

A panelist commented that not all the work of Spotlight makes it to the front page, rather some of their most important work is the scandals that they prevent because people know Spotlight (and good reporters like them) will be looking over their shoulder.

While your organization likely doesn’t need an investigative research unit, consider whether it would benefit from a team that has the luxury of time. Could you dedicate a team (or person) to go deep on consumer feedback? Have a few people who are given time to pursue new partnerships? Allow selected staff members to have the time to reengineer high-impact processes?

The world operates on tight deadlines but surprising and significant work can happen when you allow the right people to work without them. Go deep to uncover insights you don’t see on the surface.

Source: Boston Globe Summit: Spotlight — an institution within an institution, September 24, 2021