LauraLynn Jansen, Deb Siverson and Joan Haan discuss how being able to ask for Help is linked to leadership. The HerShe Group prepares girls in foster care to successfully transition from adolescence to adult independence through the performing arts, mentorship, college & career readiness, leadership development and exposure to extraordinary experiences.
While volunteering again for HerShe, Deb Siverson talks with Joan Haan and LauraLynn Jansen about a high ropes course and leadership qualities witnessed in youths’ experiences. The HerShe Group prepares girls in foster care to successfully transition from adolescence to adult independence through the performing arts, mentorship, college & career readiness, leadership development and exposure to extraordinary experiences.
While volunteering again for HerShe, Deb Siverson talks with LauraLynn Jansen about compelling self experiences. The HerShe Group prepares girls in foster care to successfully transition from adolescence to adult independence through the performing arts, mentorship, college & career readiness, leadership development and exposure to extraordinary experiences.
Everyone is talking about Employee Engagement these days, as they should. Based on numerous surveys, employee engagement is at an all-time low. We know the impact of low employee engagement is lost productivity, higher attrition, increased expenses, and according to Gallup, costs American businesses $300 billion a year. But whose responsibility is it, the employee’s, management’s, or both? I asked the question of my LinkedIn community, What one thing would you suggest to improve employee engagement during 2012? The majority of their suggestions pointed to management. While I agree that managers and organizations play a critical role, we must also look to ourselves and what part of our own engagement we are accountable for. We own the life that we create and that means both in and out of work. Ultimately, we decide if we want to sit in the corner or join the party.
While I’m looking forward to sharing the suggestions on the organizational side (watch for my next blog post) I decided to start with the individual’s role in employee engagement. The more I researched how individuals can take personal responsibility for their own engagement at work, the more I saw a link to leadership principles. This makes perfect sense because being a leader means being proactively engaged in creating destiny. It comes down to three basic concepts:
The first bullet has everything to do with understanding one’s own unique talents, gifts, values, passion, purpose, and mission. I used to see this very one dimensionally. What I have come to know is that this is multi-dimensional and constantly shifting depending on what is happening internally and externally. I recently had dinner with an old friend who I had not seen in several years. We talked about the journey of getting to know yourself over and over again as you age. That feeling of looking in the mirror and not recognizing the face that looks back at you. To remain fully engaged, we must never stop looking in the mirror. When I pay attention to what excites me and what bores me, I find that what I value is at the root of those feelings. Who I am at the core is the same, so when I pay attention there is a rediscovery and remembrance of who I am, but in truth at different times I hunger for more or less of some pieces of myself. My skills have grown in some directions and atrophied in others. Who am I now? I’ve come to believe that staying engaged means holding the question of who you are and what you need. It is taking care of yourself first, because when you do there is so much more of yourself to give.
As I listen to the organizational system that I am part of, bullet two asks me to pay attention to how I can serve what is needed. Aligning what I have to offer with what is needed in the system is like taking a telescope and dialing it in to first focus on myself, and then out to observe the bigger picture. In-out-in-out. What do I need to feel successful, happy, fulfilled? What does the organization need to be profitable, achieve objectives, and meet shareholder expectations? What do my colleagues need from me; encouragement, honesty, mentoring, feedback? What do I need from them; input, acceptance, the benefit of the doubt, tenacity. Engagement means listening carefully and often to the state of the state. When we check out we lose touch with how things are becoming. That disconnection leads to a lack of engagement and connection to the system you are a part of.
Finally, I make the decision, what am I willing to give? No matter how much pressure my manager puts on me, there is no one else but me who decides. I don’t decide just once, I decide over and over again, day by day, and minute by minute. Others can support me in becoming more aware of who I am and what motivates me, they can point me in the direction I should go, and they can support me in developing a path toward success. They can hold me accountable to some level of activity and even results. Yet even then, I ultimately determine if I will live up to my full potential. Will I give you 50% of what I am capable of, or 80%, or 100%? I always choose, either intentionally or unintentionally, that the buck stops here.
Here is the part that fascinates me: my level of engagement is some complex dance that I do with myself and with the organizational system that I am part of. I can decide to dance a Salsa, or a line dance, or an intricate ballet with a troupe of other dancers. Or I can stand against the wall and wait for someone to ask me to dance.
What do you think? Comment below and share your opinion.
Who am I? What am I here on this earth to do? What tools will I need to accomplish my mission?
These are the classic philosophical questions that humanity has been asking for more than two-thousand years, and they live at the core of leadership. The conversation about leadership began long-ago when societies first formed and the use of power became cause for concern. The idea of cultivating leadership as part of a life-long journey is at least as old as the Confucian classic, The Great Learning. One interpretation of this ancient book suggests that, “if you want to be a great leader you need to enter seven spaces—awareness, stopping, calmness, stillness, peace, true thinking, and attainment.” The early Greek philosophers where sending a similar message related to self-awareness, “to thine own self be true.”
As this is true for individual leaders, it is also true for organizational systems. Strategic Workforce Planning focuses on these same questions but at a macro level. Who are we at our best? What does the marketplace need now and how do we engage and deliver? What resources do we need to be extraordinary?
Nine years ago (on Valentine’s Day), I started my own journey as a business owner when I founded Xponents. I had long been interested in the study of Leadership and had served in many senior roles in corporations and as a volunteer in non-profits. I left my last corporate job more from an awareness of what I wasn’t meant to do, than what I was. It was that push, a compelling need to be true to myself that helped me begin my journey toward answering the questions above.
Looking back, I see that I’ve come a long way. It took courage back then to take that leap toward something undefined, and that I couldn’t yet see in the distance. I moved in the direction that my heart told me to go. There was a time I would have said I made some wrong turns, but now I know those choices were part of what I needed to experience. I didn’t have much of a safety net as I looked for ways to match what I had to offer, with what was needed out in the marketplace.
But we did okay. Growth year over year, and then the bottom fell out in 2008. They were the best of times and the worst of times…where have I heard that before. We rolled up our sleeves and reinvented how we did business. A couple of times.
So, here I stand on the cusp of what’s next. Where do I go from here? Here is what I believe I have learned: those three questions hold the key to organizational success. They are perpetual. I’m changing, the marketplace is changing, and I have come to realize as a business leader I can never stop asking those three questions. There will never be absolute answers, but as long as I hold the questions close, I can’t get too far off course.