I am writing this on January 1, 2020. You will read this on January 6,2020. One year ends and another begins. Some years end and we are glad to see them go. 1980 was one of those for me. Other years have enough positive memories that we are sorry to see them go. 1993 was one of those years for me. What does 2019 mean to you, not only personally, but professionally?
We are preparing to have our Master Bath remodeled. Part of that process involved moving, or removing, my tie rack. I rarely wear ties anymore, but the act of going through my ties reminded me of when I did and what work was like then. (BTW, I got rid of about 30 ties. Many of those remaining (10 or so) achieved that distinction because of their special memories, more so than their serviceable need.
This month we will explore some of the ways that work has changed and what it might mean for how we lead. My sense is that for most people the new year represents hope for what can occur. We set professional goals, looking to improve on the prior year. Some of us will set personal goals, looking to improve some part of our life. We start the year with an intention to. What is your intention for 2020?
Thank you for your continued support of our postings. While I write for me, I do enjoy when I hear that you find value in what I wrote.
May 2020 be your best year yet, full of blessings and good work. I know, for me, one of my goals for 2020 is to continue to improve how I love others.
Do your best work and be well.
What Does the New Year Mean to You as a Leader?
“New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
I continue to be curious and amazed by how business gets done. The span of my experience of many of my ‘new years’ has included a pervasive top down structure and daily wearing of ties, to a flattened organization with ‘business casual,’ and an increase in collaboration for how work gets done.
In more recent years, my curiosity has been peaked by watching the subtle shift in the focus of organizations. Throughout my work for other companies the evolution was in what and how things were measured. There was focus on continuous improvement (TQM), evolving into a focus on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). “That which is measured gets done.” Results and profit were king. They still are, but there is increasing attention paid to ‘meaning’ beyond the work being done.
A parallel is that for many years (1950’s – early 90’s) IQ was considered the major predictor of success, just as profit was the major measure of success for companies. Today, as work is more complex and diverse, there are increasing numbers of employees who either work in a free-lance capacity, or remotely. Likewise, there is an understanding that a person’s Emotional Intelligence is far greater as a predictor of success compared to IQ. In addition, there is a greater understanding of what are the key contributors to employee engagement. What we now understand is a person’s emotional connection to a job, a department, and organization is key to their engagement. Part of the evolution over the past 12 – 15 years is that the dynamic of results, and the focus of worker success are not either or, but both. Emerging with the with the dynamic of results and worker well-being, is the dynamic of corporate citizenship and employee contribution to that corporate citizenship.
Two of my good friends, Chris Jarvis and Angela Parker, founded Realized Worth in 2008, focusing on corporate citizenship as a powerful mechanism to address critical social and environmental issues facing our global society. Underlying this, is an increased understanding that employees want to be part of meaningful work and have an opportunity to contribute to ‘the greater good’ outside of work.
What is the impact of this evolution on leaders? The demand for leaders who have the breadth of ability to create and sustain relationships with their team, and produce the required results in a context of increased focus on corporate citizenship, has never been greater.
This includes the ability to:
- Be clear about expectations, the role, and the tasks and goals to be accomplished.
- Be able to have difficult conversations – part of clarity is to deliver messages of what is going well, and what needs improved; individually and collectively (team) on a timely basis.
- Put a deadline on everything – whether it ‘needs’ it or not. Remember, the task on hand will expand to fill the time allotted. Deadlines help everyone know what is expected.
- Ensure that the team has the necessary support, resources, structure and training to do their jobs.
- Ensure that the individuals on your team feel valued for their individual contributions.
- Over-communicate. Better to have the information and not need it than to need it and not have it (including timely, constructive and consistent feedback).
- Promote problem-solving within the team. How? By seeing mistakes as opportunities (and encouraging the team to do the same). Instead of hiding mistakes, people become more proactive around the solution.
- Understand the goals/desires of each team member. Offer challenging work and opportunities for learning consistent with their goals in a broader context of contribution and value outside of work. This helps engage them in achieving their goals and allows you to meet your goals as well. It also gives people a chance to grow into new roles and encourages responsibility in the broader ‘community.’
- Encourage collaboration. Collaboration drives better decision-making and helps the team when solving for problems and overcoming mistakes. This will also help promote uncovering mistakes proactively, rather than hiding mistakes.
Many of these practices have been ‘best’ practices for a long time. The difference is the changes in needs and desires of those entering the work force and the increased focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). In my coaching experience, the integration of interpersonal relationship and the analytical/task parts of leading are difficult to achieve. That is because most of us have a predilection for either the people part of the work, or the analytical/task part of the work. The development of the Social Responsibility component creates another dimension of understanding necessary for leaders in this decade and beyond. The best leaders understand that they must be able to do all three to achieve the goal of a more highly engaged team capable of extraordinary results and satisfaction.
The most encouraging trend I see is an increasing number of businesses caring more about engagement in their communities, working to solve community social problems. This synergy between the employee and the organization will continue to accelerate solutions and feed the desire of employees to be part of something bigger.
Where do you see the opportunities for your leadership in 2020? The landscape for making contributions are ever expanding. I hope you will find yours and make 2020 your very best.
To a better you…
“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”