leadership dot #2560: 2-1/2 years

Today is Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the freeing of the last enslaved people in the United States on June 19, 1885 in Galveston, Texas. If you’re an astute student of history you will note that this is two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation that, in theory, gave slaves their freedom.

Juneteenth is a perfect illustration that just because a leader says there is to be a change does not mean that those who are to enact it actually do so. Proclaiming a change and implementing it are two very different things, carried out by two distinct functions within an organization.

In this case, the Texans were not about to relinquish their “property” until they were forced to do so. It took two years for Major General Granger to provide the might necessary to mandate that change occur, needing to wait until the war concluded and enough Union troops became available to make their way to southern Texas for law enforcement instead of civil war combat.

In addition to spending time developing bold proclamations about the change you want to occur, dedicate resources toward creating an implementation plan to ensure that things actually change. Leaders – and all political candidates – would be wise to take lessons from Juneteenth. Good intentions – and even good laws – don’t become a reality overnight.

 

leadership dot #2547: remembering

It has been called the most significant 24-hours of the 20th Century, yet today many Americans don’t know the history of D-Day. The Allied Forces’ victory at Normandy is considered the turning point in World War II – a heroic series of battles that saved Europe from Nazi rule. The invasion on France’s beaches literally changed the world – 75 years ago today.

 The victory was monumental at the time and those who were alive when it happened can recall where they were when they learned of the raid. Today, most people don’t appreciate the magnitude of the war, let alone one battle within it.

The same thing happens with other key points in history. In less than 20 years, emotions generated by the terrorist attacks of September 11 have waned and Patriot Day has become just another day for those not directly impacted. On November 22, people are thinking of Thanksgiving instead of JFK.

Consider the history you need to preserve in your organization (or family, etc.). What were the turning points that made your organization what it is today? Who were the leaders and what risks did they take? What were the battles that were won – and lost – and what lessons were learned along the way?

History fades into the past without intentional efforts to keep it alive. Be your organization’s – and community’s – storyteller and help honor the key events of the past in the present.

Monument Des Braves St. Laurent-Sur-Mer, Omaha Beach France

 

leadership dot #2537: flags

This weekend may be the start of summer for some, but in my town, it’s known as the start of flag season. The local Eagles Club provides a service project whereby members place American flags outside businesses for each patriotic holiday this summer: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. The companies pay for the flags, but the Eagles do all the work: setting them up a few days before and taking them down on Monday after the designated event.

Many businesses participate in this project and so the flags become very noticeable. With the benefit of a little breeze as was the case this weekend, Old Glory is even more glorious.

The flag project is a perfect intersection between service and visibility. So often, good deeds are done to individuals or behind-the-scenes in ways that not many can see: a donation, a scholarship or helping someone who has medical issues, but the flags bring a wave of patriotism to many.

This Memorial Day remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom and pay them tribute by serving in a way that brings joy to another.

leadership dot #2536: sorry day

In Australia, today is National Sorry Day, a holiday established in 1998 to make atonement for the separation of Aboriginal children from their native people. The removals occurred from 1910 to 1970, but the Sorry Day did not occur for nearly 30 years after the practice ended, and the public apology did not come until another decade after that.

Saying “I’m sorry” and admitting mistakes is hard for a country to do and it’s also challenging for an individual. It gets even harder when so much time has passed and relationships have been severed.

But take a lesson from Australia and do the right things by making amends. Who needs to hear “I’m sorry” from you today? Do the right thing and be the first one to extend your hand in reconciliation.

 

leadership dot #2504: expert power

One of the key things for new hires to learn is who has power beyond those with the official titles. In my Organizational Behavior class students study French and Raven’s five sources of power: Legitimate (positional), Reward, Coercive, Expert and Referent (charisma). They easily grasp four types, but they struggle with providing examples of expert power – unless, of course, they have professional work experience. Then it is easy to identify who has expert power and many times it’s the administrative assistant!

Expert power comes from the individual’s knowledge or skill, irrespective of their position, that is valuable to others. At times, a person may gain expert power from credentials or experience, but often the organizational experts are those in the support positions that are truly the experts on how the operation runs. Experts may play a role as basic as being the “go-to” person for unjamming the copy machine or possess information as nuanced as knowing how to snag five minutes with the boss. Expert power comes from being the one that others turn to when they get stuck or the one who is the person who can navigate the system like no other. Expert power can also be information power – the one who understands the pieces of the whole and knows what is really happening, not just what is supposed to occur.

Experts play invaluable roles in organizations, yet their contributions are not always recognized or legitimized – until, of source, something goes wrong and no one else knows how to resolve it! Today, celebrate the experts that are your administrative assistants. Acknowledge that their knowledge is often the power that keeps the enterprise humming.

leadership dot #2502: modern milkman

You may feel good about forgoing the use of a disposable straw but a new company called Loop wants to completely change your thinking about disposability and single-use items. Loop aims to change the way consumer products are sold by eliminating disposable containers entirely and replacing them with reusable packaging.

They have support from some major companies for their effort: Proctor & Gamble will be testing reusable containers for Pantene shampoo, Tide, Cascade and Crest and companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Haagen-Dazs are experimenting with them as well. Loop likens their plans to the 1950’s milkman model, where you buy the product but return the container which can be used over and over again. They’ll be testing the concept with 300 products in selected markets this Spring.

With so much purchasing happening through online orders and home delivery, the time might be right for reusable packaging to make a comeback. Until it makes its way to your hometown, use this Earth Day as a reminder to reduce your plastic consumption as much as possible and start your own movement to eliminate much as disposability as you can.

Source: Loop brings back ‘The milkman model’, by Katherine Roth for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, January 29, 2019, p. 8A

 

leadership dot #2501: simple pleasures

A picture of an ordinary egg reached 53 million “Likes” on Instagram. It became the most-liked picture on the platform.

Over 17 million people participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge where they were doused with freezing water in the name of charity.

Movember – a moment challenging men to forgo shaving in November – has become one of the world’s top 100 non-government organizations.

Instead of spending your Easter getting caught up posting a picture of a plain egg or participating in one of the other crazy social media challenges, use your time today to enjoy the simple pleasures of the holiday. Roll a colored egg down a trough. Go hunting for golden nuggets. Bite off a chocolate bunny’s ears. Eat Peeps with your peeps.

Millions of people don’t have to post about it for it to be enjoyable.