Thursday, January 31, 2013

Musings about Leadership

My middle daughter, Maya, has assumed a supervisory position, and she asked me for advice.  Over the years, I've given advice to people I mentored so it was really special to create a list for her too.   Here are my thoughts.  I decided if I blogged about it, I wouldn't have to recreate it again.  :-)

  • Celebrate something every day.  Even if you only celebrate that the day is over, remember to do it.  The bad events always crowd out the successes so celebrate them.
  • It’s OK to make mistakes.  The Navajo used to weave a mistake into every rug they wove so just plan that there will be at least one mistake and then be ready to solve it. 
  • If something is a huge success, give the credit to your team.  If it’s a big flop, take the blame. 
  • Be a good listener.  Sometimes there is a gem of an idea buried in a great deal of trivia.  Listen for it.
  • If someone is “in your face”…remember it is not about you.  It is their bad day and/or their bad opinion of themselves. 
  • Never feel pressed to make a quick decision.  Someone else’s emergency is not your problem.  Give yourself time to think it over. 
  • Remember you can’t make broad decisions for one special circumstance.  Always ask yourself if you can give the same answer to another person who needs/requests the same thing. 
  • When you need something from your boss or you are having a problem, think of a solution too. If you don’t have any suggestions, you might get an answer you don’t want.
  • You can’t be friends with everyone you lead.  You want to be respected and thought of as someone that will support them and be fair. 
  • If someone comes to you and says, “Do you know what the teachers or a certain person is saying about you”…just stop them and say "I already hear enough bad things so no thank you." 
  • It’s the same when someone approaches you about a problem and says, “We are all unhappy about”…,Just stop them and say – “Let’s discuss what you are unhappy about.  If others feel the same, they need to come and see me directly.”
  •  Don’t be afraid to get advice from your boss (s).  It is not a sign of weakness or insecurity to ask for help.  That’s why they are paid the big bucks!
  • Give praise often, but meaningfully.
  • When you have to criticize, keep the “I” statement – I believe, I think, I recommend and try to also include something positive too. 
  • Don’t expect praise from the people you supervise.  Assume you are doing well.  You always hear about it when you aren’t!
  • You have to lead by example.  Be on time.  Be prepared.  Be positive.  When no one is looking, then go ahead and kick a chair or two.
  •  Pick your battles.   When something upsets you, take time to analyze the issue.  Then decide what you are going to do about it.
And remember, not to take yourself too seriously.  The job survived before you, and it will survive after you.  Just do no harm!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

National Day of Service Turns into a Personal Day of Gratitude!

Like hundreds of thousands of people in the United States , MiVida and I participated in the recent National Day of Service.  We signed up to clean a local beach in Encinitas and were at our destination at 9 AM ready to fill bags and bags of trash.  We were joined by lots of eager volunteers, but there was one big problem.  After an hour of walking and searching, we decided that this was the cleanest beach in Southern California.  We had only found two plastic straps, two cigarette buts, and some paper.  
However, we soon realized that we had been walking and searching so hard that we forgot to think about where we were walking to.   You see I grew up in Cardiff by the Sea,  about 3 miles from Encinitas, and we were more than half way there.  So we abandoned our hunt for nonexistent trash and just enjoyed the beautiful morning, walking to Cardiff. I was soon talking about all my early memories living near and actually almost living at the beach.  The closer I got to Cardiff, the more excited and talkative I became.  Luckily I have to listen to all MiVida’s stories about growing up in Carlsbad under similar circumstances, so he was very patient and let me stroll down memory lane.

How the memories flowed!  A large group of us hung out all the time, and the beach was our ”go-to” place.  We had frequent overnights at the beach (yes without parents, and we started in the 6th grade.)  Cardiff was so safe.  We would do chores in the morning, when there was morning fog, and then we all headed to the beach.  Those were the days of rubber rafts, and we would paddle out and lay on them for hours.  I had a slight problem.  I didn’t know how to swim, and I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was afraid they would tease me.  So for many years, until I finally learned how to swim in Junior High, I just held onto my raft for dear life.  In my teenage years, I would spend hours sitting on the beach bluffs and contemplating life as only teenagers can.  I really don’t think I could ever live very far from the ocean.

Raymond and I had an epiphany that day.  We both shared similar backgrounds – alcoholic dads, moms without much financial support who worked multiple jobs, broken families, minimal supervision, not much in the way of stylish clothes.  Neither of our families even owned an automobile.  And yet, we both are reasonably sane optimistic adults who have wonderful childhood memories.  So with all those negative factors – what was the difference!  For us, we decided it was the environment.  We had a healthy safe place to be.  It was a place that the most money in the world could never buy, and we never needed more than a bathing suit, raft or surf board to fully participate. 

IWe didn’t do much service on that beautiful Saturday morning, but we had a chance to acknowledge what a gift we both received as beach babies in the 50ties and early 60ties.                                               

                                                   Thanks Moms!  You raised us well! 
My mom, Alta, with Raymond's Mom, Celia, and our youngest child, Christian

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Give / Get and My New Year’s Resolution

Does it count if you get the idea about your resolution on January 1st but never get it written until January 13th?  Well I hope so.  I can attribute the delay to old age, an over whelmingly busy life, procrastination…  feel free to choose all that apply!

Anyway, my New Year Resolution is to move from get to give!   Done!  Ummm, maybe I need to elaborate a little more.

I’m a Virgo, so get is such a great word.  In my more than 40 years in the work world, get helped me get organized, get information, get ready, get on with it, get over it, along with a few “get out of here, and get lost”
In my work world, get also worked for get recognition, get credit, and of course, get blamed.

Give  was part of that time too, especially in terms of mentoring and supporting amazing colleagues.  However, I think the more strident get was the operational word in my working world.

Now, give seems like the word I want to live in and live by.  I have the gift of time and choice – something I blog about ad naseum, but it just seems so strange and special to me after so many years ( Yes more than 40 years…Do I say that a lot?) where the clock was my slave and task master.  So now I have to remember to embrace the give – of my time, talents (although some may be diminishing – hopefully not too rapidly, and resources – yes including some $$$.   It’s not that I’m rolling in any of the three except for maybe time, and even that seems to be limited, After all, it took me 13 days to get this posted.   I have so many people to thank, so many opportunities to be grateful for, so many gifts I’ve received, it just seems like sharing should be my “modus operendi” from this day forward.  Check back with me next year, and we’ll see how I’m doing!