leadership dot #2847: prank

It’s April Fool’s Day – an excuse to find some levity in these otherwise tumultuous times. You may have to use your family or housemates as “victims” since social distancing makes pranking at work challenging right now, but use your imagination!

One of the things I miss most about working on campus is the laughter – our staff would be engaged in humorous antics all the time. We truly enjoyed each other and knew it was a gift to do so. Hopefully, this time of isolation will rekindle that appreciation when people return to their workplaces.

But until then, take four minutes today and enjoy the office prank played by Jimmy Kimmel. After you have a good laugh, think about how you can bring similar joy to the lives of those with whom you work. It may need to be virtual now, but in-person will return and chuckles are always welcome.

Watch here.

leadership dot #2823: female

On this International Women’s Day, it may be natural to thank the obvious female role models in your life like your mom or sister or even to acknowledge your professional female colleagues. I’d encourage you to expand your thinking to recognize the women who are forging paths for the women of the future, not just to celebrate those in prominence today.

Two that have been in the news recently are Patrice Banks and Emily Pilloton who are working to create new career opportunities for women in the trades. Banks runs the Girls Auto Clinic and manages a staff of female mechanics – or SheCANics as she calls them. She couldn’t find a female mechanic for herself so enrolled in tech school to learn how to become one and now is working to expand her service center to other areas.

Emily Pilloton was a high school shop teacher until she launched Girls Garage to provide classes for girls ages 9-17 in subjects such as welding, carpentry and drafting. She employs an all-female staff to help the girls learn how to “fear less and build more,” preparing them for life as well as an in-demand career.

Who would you add to your list? The fearless women who ran for President of the United States certainly qualify. Closer to home, you could add my all-female veterinary clinic, female city administrator, the female electrical engineer who enrolled in my MBA class or the female head of the Boy Scouts chapter.

Look around and pay attention to the trailblazers. A SHEcanic in Pennsylvania may not mean much to you now, but she’s creating new options for the girls of tomorrow.

 

leadership dot #2803: a hell of a job

President Warren Harding is quoted as saying about the presidency: “My God, this is a hell of a job.” It’s impossible to know the true scope of any position before you take it, but I can’t even imagine the surprises that a U.S. president finds after the inauguration.

The sheer breadth of responsibility is daunting, even before you learn the nuances or have to face the issues with serious time pressures. One current candidate’s website lists where they stand on the following topics: affordable housing, climate change, consumer protection, criminal justice reform, disability, election security, Electoral College, equitable public education, extremism, foreign policy, gender equity, gerrymandering, gun laws, health care, higher education, immigration, inclusive economy, Indian country, infrastructure, judicial system, LGBTQ rights, minimum wage, national service, organized labor, political representation, racial justice, reproductive rights, rural economy, special interests, veterans and voting rights. Who would want the job?!

Shortly after President Warren Harding took office, he said: “I am just beginning to realize what a job I have taken over. God help me, for I need it.” As we celebrate this President’s Day, let us wish blessings on all those who have and will hold the position and give them the strength to rely on others to guide them in understanding the issues they face. The same holds true for you.

leadership dot #2800: anthropomorphize

Apparently, it wasn’t enough for retailers to cash in on the $20.7 billion that Americans spent on Valentine’s Day last year. Now they are trying to extend the holiday sales by targeting dog owners to spread the love from pet to pet.

Milk Bone created bones that are imprinted with popular names of dogs, calling it Bones for Friends. They also created special treats embossed with heart shapes – allowing you to send a valentine to your favorite pooch. Just like you decorate your house for each season, now there are toys, collars, and clothing that allow you to accessorize your dog for each holiday, too.

Obviously, the animals have no sense as to whether the treat has a heart shape or the bone has their name or a nemesis, but the human tendency to anthropomorphize their pooches has led to the creation of these types of products.

Can your organization capitalize on this phenomenon? Maybe your next bake sale can include dog biscuits where you write their name in spray cheese or frosting. You could make holiday pet bandanas as a craft project. Or you may consider hiding treats instead of candy and allow dogs to hunt at Easter.

People are crazy in love with their pets. You’d be wise to find ways to direct some of that exuberance to benefit your organization.

leadership dot #2775: compelling

“One of the biggest differentiators between those who are skilled leaders and those who are unskilled leaders, between those who are really leading and those who are leaders in name only, is their effort and ability to craft a compelling vision of where they want to take their groups*.”

I have seen this phenomenon play out over and over – especially with new leaders who are more accustomed to being told the vision instead of having to craft one. I’ve also seen too many leaders who run into problems because they have a vision, but no one else knows what it is. A vision that is not shared does not inspire anyone.

One person who is synonymous with vision is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As you celebrate the holiday today, pause for a few moments to think about his vision for the county. In 1963, King spoke from the March on Washington: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

 How can your vision move your organization forward? What does your dream look like? Share that story with passion to give others a compelling reason to follow.

*Julie Straw, Mike Scullard, Susie Kukkonen, Barry Davis. Work of Leaders: How Vision, Alignment and Execution Will Change the Way You Lead (Wiley, 2013), p. 18 as quoted by Terri Fairchild on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

leadership dot #2755: have a ball

Tonight, at precisely 11:59pm Eastern Time, the famous New Year’s Eve ball will drop from One Times Square with millions watching. It will be the 91st time for the ceremony and serves as a revered bridge between the old and new year.

The ball contains 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,256 LED lights to create its magic. The crystals come in varying shapes, including this year’s addition of a pineapple shape to represent the Gift of Goodwill. Other crystals represent the Gift of Harmony, Gift of Serenity, Gift of Kindness, Gift of Fortitude and Gift of Imagination. You can learn more in a fascinating fact sheet here.

 Just as the ball remains on display all year, goodwill, harmony, serenity, kindness, fortitude and imagination should represent more than crystals on the New Year’s Eve ball. Make them your mantra to live by in the coming decade.

leadership dot #2749: priceless

A real estate firm in Baltimore surprised its employees by handing out a total of $10 million in bonuses as a tribute to the holiday and celebration for achieving a company-wide goal it set in 2005. The 198 employees received checks ranging from $100 to $270,000 based on longevity with the firm, with an average gift of $50,000! I’m sure it made for quite a memorable holiday.

Even if your year-end bonus was slightly smaller this year, I hope that you have a holiday filled with the same amount of joy that these employees must have felt. As the Grinch reminds us, Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Today, celebrate all the good in your world that doesn’t have a price tag.

Happy Christmas!

Thanks, Emily!