Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 9

So far we have covered One Unshakeable Truth plus these 8 concepts, which are found in my forthcoming book Roll Up Your Sleeves:

One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.

#1 Change is not the same as transition.

#2 Personality matters.

#3 Role clarity counts.

#4 Principles set the pace.

#5 Purpose is power.

#6 Process matters.

#7 Endings let us begin again.

#8 Seasons come and go.

Today I get personal with a few thoughts about Observation #9 Self-counseling doesn’t work. – When change hits, we become our worst counselor. Instead of turning inward, share your story with a trusted friend who will listen and not try to fix you. If you go it alone, you will go too fast and crash. If you go together, you will go farther and heal.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” The Book of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 by one of King Solomon’s scribes

In 1814, Henry Kett, an eminent clergyman, academic and writer, said, “I hesitate not to pronounce, that every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client.”

Despite Kett or Solomon’s message of the power of personal inter-dependence, which has been repeated and reflected on for centuries, the fools of the world have not been derailed off their “me, myself and I” track of life. Sadly, this Rambo-ish, one-man show mindset is still held in high regard by many people in the US. It is hailed in our movies, modeled by some top politicians, held on to by a few lesser-regarded businessmen and serves as the philosophical underpinning of tyrants who view humans as soulless and physical matter to be disposed of when change disrupts their plans.

As you know, a stand-alone persona can be efficient in a short-term ox-in-the-ditch predicament or sudden crisis and for long-term dictatorship as well. But this self-absorbed, self-reliant stance cannot be sustained long in place that values the sanctity of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you believe in these Creator-endowed values, when change happens your instinct will be to invest in getting people through the emotional phases of transition, rather than eliminate them. You will see people as struggling souls and realize that your leadership strength comes from leaning on others to inspire a shared dream of a fresh beginning and better life for everyone.

In 1967 Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston sang the hit song “Takes Two”
One can have a dream, baby
Two can make that dream so real
One can talk about bein’ in love
Two can say how it really feels
One can wish upon a star
Two can make that wish come true, yeah
One can stand alone in the dark
Two can make the light shine through
It takes two, baby, it takes two, baby
Me and you, just take two
It takes two, baby, it takes two, baby
To make a dream come true, just take two

Power of 2
Over the past 25 years I have noticed a trend in business structure which no one talked about. It is that most healthy organizations are directed by two people – a primary and secondary. Natural law has revealed this truth in healthy families, but this duo-at-the-top principle seems as reliable and trustworthy as the rule of three is for having the optimal execution structure. No matter what the official organizational chart says, successful companies officially or unofficially have a top leader, with one other person beside her or him. They together share primary influence over the future of the enterprise. The same pattern of two holds true for departments, divisions or teams. The secondary person in the pair can be someone within the organization, an outside confidant or even a family member. I’m not saying that these two don’t consult with, listen and gain perspective from others, but when it comes to making the final call – everyone may have a voice, but only two have a final vote.

Now there is data to back up my hunch. The researchers at Gallup have published a report and now a book, Power of 2. Their detailed research is illustrated by stories of famous partnerships. Examples include pairs such as Tenzing and Hillary who were the first to scale Mt. Everest; Malone and Stockton who were the key to each other’s success on the basketball court; Eisner who was never as effective at Disney without Wells. The book offers eight characteristics of these powerful partnership, which are: complementary strengths, a common mission, fairness, trust, acceptance, forgiveness, communicating, and unselfishness. The book reminds that what Solomon said thousands of years ago was right on target- many of the greatest accomplishments can be reached only by two people working together.

Journal Entry: Do you have someone beside you who sincerely applies their strengths to compliment yours, shares a common ideal, is fair minded, trustworthy, accepts you unconditionally, forgives and forgets, communicates with ease and is committed to service above self? If you have a such a comrade, chum or companion, count yourself blessed by God and don’t be surprised when together you turn out to make a big difference in the well-being of people you serve with your leadership and life.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The Bible book of Proverbs 18:24

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 8

So far we have covered One Unshakeable Truth plus these 7 concepts, which are found in my forthcoming book Roll Up Your Sleeves:

One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.

#1 Change is not the same as transition.

#2 Personality matters.

#3 Role clarity counts.

#4 Principles set the pace.

#5 Purpose is power.

#6 Process matters.

#7 Endings let us begin again.

Today is #8 Seasons come and go. Life is a series of transitions in which we decide to either loathe the change or learn to love ourselves more and serve others more. Helping another person get through their struggles is the best way to get through ours.

The Give Factors
A number of years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about my work. An executive I was coaching was having particular trouble moving his team forward. He said all the right things, had all the right technical knowledge, people seemed to like him, but his team wasn’t achieving key business initiatives. Trying to make sense of that situation, I asked myself what was missing. What was it about this guy that was causing this stalemate with his team to happen?

A key skill of any successful leader is the ability to coach and mentor people. This guy couldn’t coach people. Why not? He had drive and determination. He had read all the “how-to” leadership books and knew the right words. I finally realized he was missing a key, underlying, foundational attribute of all truly successful leaders. He was missing a spirit of generosity.

Robert Hargrove, in Masterful Coaching, explains it this way, “Coaching is a way of being, not just a technique that allows you to help other people achieve success. Generosity of spirit allows you to give people the gift of your presence in any conversation. It motivates you to give authentic feedback that helps someone grow and learn, as well as give praise that affirms that person. People with generosity of spirit give others credit.”

Before I finally fell back to sleep that night, I grabbed a notepad and wrote down eight words: Give Thanks, Give Credit, Give Back, and Give Up. Those were the variations on the concepts behind Hargrove’s generosity of spirit that I’d seen over and over in truly successful people. These traits were definitely lacking in the executive I was working with. It was from that series of events that what I now call “The Give Factors” came into being(1)

Give Thanks … For things you are most grateful for during both good times and bad
Give Credit … To those who play a role in your success, helping you and just being there for you
Give Back … To other people and groups who can never repay you
Give Up … Or let go of something that’s worked in the past to move a new level of success – on purpose

If you were rating yourself on how consistently you displayed these characteristics at work and home, what number would you select for each factor? 1- never 2- sometimes 3- more often than not 4- always

Journal Entry: When leading people through a transition, modeling these four behaviors is vital to gaining the respect needed to get people through their emotional wilderness to a new beginning or shared promised land. You will know you have mastered these traits when you observe the people under your influence making the Give Factors an integral part of their leadership and life.

(1)- The four Give Factors were published and explained in detail in Chapter 2 in my first book Design a Life that Works

Of the things we think, say, and do, we will ask ourselves—
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
– The 4-way Test of Rotary International

“There is a wonderful, mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.” – Peyton Conway March, soldier

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – The Bible book of Luke 6:38

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 7

From March 23th to 30th we reviewed these 6 concepts:

One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.

#1 Change is not the same as transition.

#2 Personality matters.

#3 Role clarity counts.

#4 Principles set the pace.

#5 Purpose is power.

#6 Process matters.

Today let’s look at #7 Endings let us begin again. Acknowledge and accept that the past is behind you and that the future in front of you is worth working through, because it creates forward momentum. Momentum is a wonderful thing.

At the beginning of the series, I said that I was not going to refer to any current situations but simply give you principles and let you apply them, as you see fit. But this past week I’ve spoken to many leaders whose organizations have either been shut down completely, are half staffed and are working in virtual teams. I’ve heard from these leaders that they can’t sleep at night, feel a heavy burden all day, struggling with hard decisions that impact the lives and livelihoods of many people. They feel like their teams were pulling apart due to the separation requirements. They want to help their folks , but with everything on their plate, they are having a tough time coming up with effective ways to encourage people to pull together as this crisis lingers on.

An ex-military friend of mine who had served on the front lines once told me, “It’s hard to be creative when bullets are flying around your head.” As I listened these leaders’ internal battles, I was hurting for them, so I prayed for wisdom, pulled out my pen, and created something very practical they could apply immediately to help their people and teams regain their team spirit and sense positive momentum during these trying times.

Following is overview of what I designed. It is team communication strategy and some action ideas. I hope that you can apply something from this in your work and life.

Snapshot: This is a communication strategy and conversation plan designed to enhance unity and support the advancement of a healthy organization during a crisis situation. It Includes 4 team meeting agendas that can be used in either virtual or face-to-face team sessions.

Step1 – Create a Temporary Clarity Vision for the whole organization. This is done by defining a 2-months specific theme, goal or overall objective to rally around. One that will allow every employee to see how they can be a part and make a contribution to it. How do you do this ? Some organizations choose one of their core values or one key initiative or one big inspiring idea as their short-term clarity vision. It is also important to plan to have a celebration when things move back in-house or into your new normal. This celebration is to acknowledge things that were accomplished by teams working together during this temporary clarity vision period.

Step 2- Leadership Approach and Team Meeting Outlines
The Team Leader needs to communicate clearly, intentionally and often. When communicating: Be Empathetic, Be Frequent, Be Simple and Clear, Be Honest, Be Hopeful

Purpose of each meeting: The purpose of these four 15-30 minute weekly meetings is to keep people informed about any upcoming changes, acknowledge challenges both personally and at work, share ideas together and help one another.

Week one:
1. Read the purpose of this meeting: *we are here today to try to stay informed about any upcoming changes, acknowledge challenges both personally and at work, share ideas together and help one another.
2. Check-in question – “Most of our daily routines have changed. In adjusting to this, what one good thing has come from this time for you? What has been hard?” (30 seconds each person)
3. Cover department or division announcements and happenings
4. Share about the temporary clarity theme. Ask people to think about ways they can help.

Week two:
1. Remind the group of the meeting purpose
2. Check-in question – “What has gotten easier since our last meeting? What has gotten more difficult?”
3. Cover department or division announcements and happenings
4. Ask about “Temporary clarity theme” activities: “What positive thing have you thought about, done or heard / saw someone else do?”

Week three:
1. Remind them of the meeting purpose
2. Check-in question – Say “Today let’s talk about remembering that there are things you can control and the things you can’t control. Share a personal example of when you wasted energy on something that was outside your control. Ask if someone has an example as well and why remembering this important during this time?
3. Cover department or division announcements and happenings
4. Ask about “Temporary clarity theme” activities: “What positive thing did you do or see some on do to support our theme ?”

Week four:
1. Remind them of the meeting purpose
2. Check-in question – “Today let’s talk about the bigger picture and the belief that we will get through this. Let me ask you “Can you recall a loss, crisis or big changes you have been through before and survived? Looking back what did you learn from that time?”
3. Cover department or division announcements and happenings
4. Ask about “Temporary clarity theme” activities: “What are your ideas of ways we can celebrate our accomplishments related to ‘our temporary theme’ when we get back to working onsite?”
• If this goes on past the Week four, just go back to the Week one and follow they same series.

Most organizations already have regular team check-in meetings focused on day to day issues and challenges. So, if you apply this process it needs to be adjusted to fit your culture, and it should be to complement, not as a replacement for, a current meeting structure and routines.

Journal Entry: This process was designed for use in an organization, yet you’ve probably realized it could be easily adapted with your family, your small group or an official support group. Give it a try. I hope this will be an encouragement and create some momentum for the people in your leadership in life.

“A vision without a task is but a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery. A vision and a task is the hope of the world.Inscription on a church wall in Sussex England 1730

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part ?

Observation Unnumbered : A Little Slack

Have you found yourself making more mistakes over the last few days? Have you over-committed on some projects – feeling that you can get more done since you’re not having to drive and show up at work all day every day? Have you found yourself pushing others, and yourself, to do more and setting unrealistic expectations? Are you realizing that you are sometimes not being so kind to them, or to yourself, when those ever expanding, often shorter, timeline expectations don’t get done perfectly?

I have.

Did you read yesterday’s observation # 6, or tried to read it and gave up because of the multiple errors and instead clicked off the screen halfway through?

I did.

Since I have written this book about leading and living in a world of constant change, plus consulting about it with clients and writing this 10-part series about how to get through a transition, you might think I would have mastered the skills of managing my emotions, been tuned in to the impact of change on me personally and learned not to overload myself.

I have not.

So, I’m going to swallow my authorship pride and to take my own counsel. I will now be kind to myself and speak truth to me. That being said, I have adjusted my commitment to producing 10 articles, 10 days in a row – which was insane. I’m using the rest of this week to take a breath, catch up and explore a new way to get set up to do things better.

Next Monday, April 6, I will produce a rewrite of number observation #6, and you will see one more each day with the final #10 observation article on Friday April 10.

I feel better now.

Thanks for listening and cutting me a little slack.

Journal entry: Do you need to cut yourself, your staff or your family a little slack as we all together stumble along this pathway of transition in leadership and life?

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18, The Bible

“Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” – Frank Sinatra

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 6

Last week we reviewed these 5 concepts: Last week we reviewed these 5 concepts:
One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.
#1 Change is not the same as transition.
#2 Personality matters.
#3 Role clarity counts.
#4 Principles set the pace.
#5 Purpose is power.

Process matters. Show people a simple model so they can identify where they are in their transition process and progress. Listen and guide them with questions to take ownership of their next step.

New Beginning

As shown here, in each phase there are things people say or do that help you identify which stages someone may currently be experiencing. Ideally, people move progressively from Resisting to Exploring to Committing but people do get stuck in a phase or waffle back and forth. With a little practice, you can learn to identify where people are and help them move forward one step at a time by asking some simple questions and listening attentively.

For example, let’s say you’re a manager after a restructuring has occurred. It has not been long since the layoff. You recognize behavior that indicates a worker seems to still be depressed – displaying Resisting behavior. Your goal would be to help him/her move forward one step to the next phase – Exploring.

To do this, you might ask these type of questions in the order of Past > Present > Future • How do you feel about what happened?
• What do you think about the way this was handled?
• How could this have been done differently?
• What would you like to see happen now?
• What would be a good next step to take to improve our team/department?
• If you see anything we could do better, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Broad Jumping
“Perfect. Perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing. Everybody should just stop whining and get back to work. I think it’s great- I haven’t missed a lick. You keep asking these questions, I’m really too busy to talk.” When you hear this kind of responses to our questions above, this person has done the Promised Land broad jump, like in the summer Olympic games. Their game is pretending to instantaneously leap over all of the emotions people normally go through and act as if their world never changed. I have found that if a person does not acknowledge any feelings along the way in transition, those feelings will show up in a very negative fashion one day – oftentimes in passive aggressive ways or condescending visceral responses. If this happens, just know they are hurting and be patient and remember everyone has unseen battles they are fighting- be kind.

Have a Seat
Whether a person is moving smoothly through the transition phases or broad jumping, it is still your role as a leader to do your part to guide them (not push or direct them) to find their own new beginning. In Roll Up Your Sleeves, Darrius, the master mentor, teaches the four young men a key leadership principle. He says, “Great leaders are great listeners.” Most of us have two challenges when it comes to listening: finding the time and really listening. Since we really can’t find time because it is continually moving, we have to schedule time. Carving out time to talk with people during constant change takes a lot of effort, but fortunately talking doesn’t have to take a lot of time to be effective, if you just have a seat.

An article published in The Journal of Patient Education and Counseling reported about this concept in a controlled study with 120 adult post-operative inpatients admitted for elective spine surgery. The article said that patients commonly perceive that a provider (physician) has spent more time at their bedside when the provider sits rather than stands. Patients perceived the provider as present at their bedside longer when she/he sat, even though the actual time the physician spent at the bedside did not change significantly whether sitting or standing. This study provides empirical evidence for this perception.

Journal Entry: Famous humorist, Ashleigh Brilliant, said, “If you think communication challenge for everyone. As problem solvers with extreme time pressures, we tend to focus on “fixing things.” People’s emotions impacted by rapid change cannot be fixed or managed. People usually just need encouragement and attention to heal on their own. As a leader, your goal is to create an atmosphere where that healing can begin. Who do you need to have a seat with- in your leadership and life?

Quotes worth noting:
“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” Mark Twain

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.We listen to reply.” ― Stephen R. Covey

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” The book of Isaiah 43:19- The Bible

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 5

Over the past 4 days we reviewed these 4 concepts:
One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind. #1 Change is not the same as transition. #2 Personality matters. #3 Role clarity counts. #4 Principles set the pace.

Today we’ll discuss Observation #5 – Purpose is power. When people know the why behind a change and can see a promised land, both collectively and individually, they can get through transition easier. Without a personal vision or purpose, people tend to go back to their safe endings, no matter how painful those past circumstances were.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of consistently sharing the organization’s values with people during transition and about the importance of understanding your personal values as well. Today we’ll talk about vision or purpose, which is referred to in Roll Up Your Sleeves as your new beginning or your promised land.

There is a best-selling book entitled The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.The first line in the book is, “It’s not about you.” In today’s climate of me-first, personal branding and a growing sense of entitlement, this idea may feel radical to some people. However, when studying the vision statements of influential organizations and individuals, it becomes apparent that true vision, in business or life, is an inspiration that goes beyond “me” or the desire for status, leisure, and money. Vision becomes a driving passion, and passion is most often derived from times of personal suffering, persecution or injustice. Seldom does vision come from a relaxing mountain-top revelation, a sunset beach epiphany or a well-tailored find-yourself trip around the world.

Leading from Pain
As the youngest U.S. president, John F. Kennedy portrayed the picture of health and youthful energy to the general public. Little did most of the nation know that their vibrant leader had been deathly ill for much of his life. In fact, a priest had read the young Kennedy his last rites twice as a teenager, and at age 30 he was told by his physician that he had less than one year to live. Those situations are mere glimpses into his struggles with physical infirmities. He was plagued with life-threatening setbacks from start to finish.

Many of our great leaders have had to deal with personal hardship and challenging assignments. Lincoln, Gandhi, Roosevelt, and Reagan—almost all of the leaders whose lives I have studied experienced some degree of pain and sorrow beyond understanding. As a result, they were compelled to look deeply within and beyond themselves to their personal resolve and enduring faith. They found their clarifying life vision through (not “over” or “under” or “around” but “through”) their trials … into lives of excellence in a world they helped to move forward.

Vision Pathways
When I was a professional church minister and regularly visited people in the hospital, I could get a good measure of their health from their language and point of reference. When they were very sick, they spoke only of themselves – their medicine, pains and aches. As shown in the sketch below, as they began to get better, their conversations went outside of themselves. When they began to ask about family, community and, finally, about the larger world, I knew they would soon be going home soon.
RUS - Observation 5

Although most of these people fully recovered, a few never moved on with their lives even when they left the hospital. Soon they were back at their doctor, then back to the hospital again, to the safe place of sickness. Of course, there are debilitating illnesses that can create this terrible scenario, but each of us have known people who love going back to their endings, no matter how painful those places were. Their ending was their vision. Visions are hard to let go of once they are decided.

Journal Entry: My definition of a vision is a clear image or statement of how you hope the world will be better, because you believe that God put you here for a reason . Do you know or would you like to explore your vision ? If you’d like to think about this, I have added some questions below for you to consider. My hope is that this might help you move through your transitions easier and find more meaning in your leadership and life.

1. Do you have a friend, mentor, know a public figure, experienced a quiet hero who lived a vision that you want to support and carry on?

2. If you waved a magic wand and, just by this action, one thing would change in the world for good, what would you want that good to look like or to be?

3. What suffering event have you experienced, and you remember then thinking or saying to yourself, “I really ought to do something about that”?

Book Note: Since none of you have read my new book, because it’s has not been released, I thought this might be a good time to say a word about it. Roll Up Your Sleeves is a parable with a biblically based storyline. It is founded on the Exodus story of Moses leading the people of Israel through the wilderness to the land promised to them by God. The story is told through the observations of the characters introduced in my first book The White Shirt. Roll Up Your Sleeves is at all online booksellers and can be pre-ordered now.

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 4

So far this week, we have reviewed these concepts:
One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind. #1 Change is not the same as transition. #2 Personality matters. #3 Role clarity counts.

Today is about Observation #4 – Principles set the pace. Clarity of personal values and shared values guide effective behavior and help set a pace so people can move steadily forward and even grow through their wilderness experience.

In Your Organization’s Keys
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras wrote a classic article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Building Your Company’s Vision.” The authors argue that companies which enjoy multi-generational success can be shown to have clearly defined core values and a core purpose that remains fixed … while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.

As I mentioned yesterday, people need role clarity and clear goals during a transition. These answer “what” for people. That is the place to begin, but alongside this with this practical message don’t forget to offer an ongoing message of why your organization exists, who you serve and your values, and how you treat each other. A leader who does this consistently will see people rally even when there are no more easy “what” answers. Reminding people “our why” will always carry the day- for days.

Recently, I talked with a manager of a collections department in the home security industry. Her staff was responsible for calling and collecting overdue payments. Each person on her team is responsible for collecting a minimal of $350 dollars a day. Collections were down and, as you might suspect, morale was down as well. Her manager was putting pressure on her and she was putting pressure on her staff. Collections went further down, and the staff was complaining even more. So, since pressure turned out not the be the key , she decided to talk to the staff about why their job was important. She told her team that if they did not collect the overdue payments, customers’ security systems would be turned off. The results could be customers’ homes are broken into, people could be robbed and possibly hurt or killed from intruders. She said, “Our job is to keep people safe and out of harm’s way.” The next week average collections were $650 and smiling and laughter echoed from cubicle to cubicle.

How can you help others remember the real “why” you exist and the real keys to your organization’s success?

In Your Life and Career Keys
I have a habit of losing things quite often, so, it has come as quite a surprise to my wife and others who know me well that I’ve held on to a particular key ring through the ownership lifecycle of three vehicles—for over 15 years! You see, I’ve had trouble keeping up with these types of things all my life, usually because I get in a hurry, try to do too many things at once, and end up not paying close enough attention to what’s going on and where things are going in the process.

The fact that I haven’t lost this key ring for over 15 years has been one heck of an accomplishment for me. That knowledge has become, as they say on the coffee commercials, one of life’s simple pleasures. Frankly, I attribute much of this success to the words “The Keys I Haven’t Lost Yet,” which are printed in bold black letters on the tag of the key ring.

Before I got this key ring, when I lost my keys, the obvious next step was for me to ask anyone around “Have you seen my keys?” Then came the most common and counter-productive of the typical responses, “So, where do you think you lost them?” That’s a winner, isn’t it? They may as well just flat-out have asked me, “Have you seen your keys … you dummy!?”

A more helpful response was, “Where was the last place you remember having them?” At least that’s a step in the right direction … many a set of keys has been found after one takes a moment to review their last few steps.

Not surprisingly, a response I never heard was, “Hey, here are the keys to my vehicle. Why not just use them.” Why not?! … well, the answer is, of course, obvious. Their keys won’t work in my vehicle; my keys won’t work in their vehicle. I have my own keys. They have their own keys.

Values are our “keys” to making it though the wilderness and emotional phases of a life or career transition. They are the solid foundation for making everyday decisions as well as long-term plans. Are you clear on your life values? If you don’t decide on your own keys, there are plenty of people who will be happy to hand you their keys. Next time the world around you suddenly shifts on its axis and everyone starts reacting to the biggest threat, chasing the latest trend or lining up to worship the newest handsomest guru – you can just pull out your keys, start your life back and move forward up the hills and down the valleys of transition toward your purpose and promised land, one step and one day at a time.

Journal Entry: Consider taking a few minutes today to recall the last time you had to make a tough decision, and you felt good about how it turned out. What key values or beliefs guided your choice? Jot them down somewhere you will see them every day as a reminder of your keys to true success in leadership and life.

“When values are clear decisions are easy.” Roy Disney

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best night and day to make you just like everybody else, means to fight the greatest battle and to never stop fighting.” E.E. Cummings

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” First Corinthians 13:13 the NIV Bible

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 3

Monday and Tuesday, we reviewed these two concepts:
1- One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.

2- Change is not the same as transition. Change is an event. Transition is the emotional stages people go through when change happens.

Today’s observation is – Role Clarity Counts. People are structure-seeking beings. When change hits, each person needs to talk about his or her role and how the change will affect them and the ones they love.

I’d like to share a couple of stories and a role clarity technique that I have found useful at certain times.

Promoted to a new role: Three years ago, I was coaching a young lady who was a competent and capable up-and-coming leader. She was just promoted from working in a department to leading the department. She was in her early 30s, and most of the people in the department were in their mid 40s and 50s. The promotion was well deserved, and most people knew that and were accepting – but not everyone. She was wondering how to make this transition work especially since most of the people in the department were a good deal older than she was. She wasn’t just going from Bud to Boss; the grapevine message was that she was going from Baby to Boss.

So, we talked about her concerns and then about how teams are built. We discussed the structure and steps to set up a team that works: 1st set shared goals > 2nd clarify roles> 3rd enhance relationships and 4th simplify procedures. Fortunately, the department had some goals already set and most procedures working okay, so roles and relationships became her focus. A few days later, she held a team alignment meeting. She began by reviewing the goals with the team to see if everyone understood and agreed these objectives were still worth working on. All agreed. Then they reviewed a few of their procedures and processes, and she asked them to make notes about ideas for improving those sometime in the future.

Then she stood, turned to a flipchart and wrote two questions: 1- What do you need from a manager? 2 – What do you not need from a manager? The team just sat there. No one said a thing. I think they were stunned at her approach. She did not come in promoting or advocating for her power position, as their last manager had. Rather than lay down the rules, she simply inquired how they could work together. Finally, one person spoke up and the 2 questions on the flipchart began to fill up. The team talked about the comments and made some agreements. Then one of the team members asked her, “What do you need from us? What do you not need from us?” The new leader had earned the right to make a request and she did. Her first few months on the road to building a team were not completely smooth but a lot of bumps were missed, and potholes were avoided because she began by making sure everyone understood where everyone stood and sat as they moved along to become a team.

Role tune-up exercise in good times: When things change because of positive business evolution or growth, roles can drift and need correction from time to time. This is difficult to do with job description updates. With the pace that things are changing these days, no work would get done, because of time spent rewriting job profiles. So, here is a simple team role clarity input/output method that I recommend teams to at least once a year. Instructions: Find a room with lots of wall space . Give each team member a Post-it note flip-chart size sheet. Get them to write their name and job title across the top. Then make 3 columns with the headings and questions, as illustrated here:

table example

Next, everyone needs to stick their poster on the wall. Then each person is to complete the questions on every team member’s wall posters, but they cannot complete their own. Give people 5 minutes at each poster and then move to the next, round robin. End by having each person comment on what was written by others and add or delete. Finally, you lead the group to agree on any adjustments that need to be made on each role sheet going forward. Note: This could also be done virtually with screen sharing.

Role clarity when dramatic, unexpected change hits: Don’t use the exercise I just presented. Groupthink does not work now. When major economic or political shifts or a new corporate strategy forces an organization to make major structural changes like restructuring, downsizing or mass transfers across the organization, people are going through the ways of transition. (See observations 1 and 2.) At this time, humans need simple straightforward answers on next steps in their workplace role and personal careers so they can take care of their life. Until personal career issues are settled, employees will be too preoccupied to be productive. Get these questions answered in a hurry so people can get on with business. These questions include:

• Will I keep my job?
• Will my pay and benefits be affected?
• What about advancement opportunities?
• Will I have a new boss?
• What is expected of me now?

If you do not know these answers, tell people that you are unsure, promise to get some answers, and follow through with your promise. If you do not provide information, your employees will provide their own. Fill the grapevine with accurate information daily, because the company grapevine is always growing in one direction or another.

see additional resources below

Journal Entry: Which of the situations described here do you find yourself in these days? Is there something you have gleaned from this information that you can use in your Leadership and Life?

For more comprehensive approach to managing dramatic organizational change, read the article “Leading the people who are left” at my website.

Tomorrow I will discuss observation #4 Principles set the pace. Clarity of personal values and shared values guide effective behavior and help set a pace so people can move steadily forward and even grow through their wilderness experience.

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living & Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about two foundational concepts:
One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.

Change is not the same as transition.
Change is an event. Transition is the emotional stages people go through when change happens.

Today the observation is – Personality matters. Every person has a unique way he or she reacts and works through transition. How and when a person rolls up their sleeves and regains their purposeful place is on their clock, not yours.

One size fits one. Each person has a distinct personality that was formed from both nature and nurture. I could talk about the different personality styles, the components that go into a person’s communication styles and such things as that, but I believe you would probably prefer something more practical. So how about a 5-minute, non-scientific, un-validated “how I manage the stress of transition” quiz?

The goal of this exercise is not for you to clearly define your personality, but to raise your awareness that every person has a different, sometimes difficult, personality and you do too. I’d also like you to consider how different personality types show up during the transition phases we discussed yesterday, and I’ll offer a helpful suggestion or two for you to consider to aid you and others along the Wave.

My Transition Stress Management Style: A 3-Step Self-Awareness Quiz

Step 1 – Instructions: There are four descriptions listed under each statement below. Complete each of the “I am” statements by circling 2 of the 4 behavioral descriptions that seem to fit how you see yourself.

I am most satisfied in an environment where I have…
A. Plenty to do – am very busy
B. Freedom from rules and restrictions
C. Details on what to do and how my work needs to be carried out
D. A lot of time to think and reflect

I am happiest in a place where I …
A. Can implement and control how things get done
B. Receive individualized rewards
C. Am free from constant social demands
D. Experience minimal interruptions

I am at my best when I …
A. Deal with many very challenging assignments at once
B. Experience a variety of projects/topics each day
C. Can make sure quality standards are not compromised
D. Am encouraged to create and innovate new approaches

I am motivated to do my best when my manager is …
A. Firm, objective when giving me an assignment
B. More low-key and laid-back in their approach
C. Clear about roles and makes sure people stay in their lane
D. Asks for my opinion when he or she institutes a change

Step 2 – Tallying Instructions:
Talley: Look over your choices in Step 1. Talley the number of A’s, B’s, C’s or D’s you circled. Then record your totals below to the left of each of the letters below.
I circled …
____ A’s
____ B’s
____ C’s
____ D’s

Step 3 – Discovery of Ways to Motivate Yourself
– The letter above with the highest number represents your most likely approach to transition. If you have a tie, you can go back to the Step 1 and rank your two choices as primary or secondary or just move on and decide which descriptions below feels right to you. Remember this is not a test to get right. It is something to help you appreciate that each person sees things in different ways, and to remember to Be Kind to yourself and others.

– Find your letter A, B, C, D letter and mark it on the Stress Descriptions and Helpful Hints list below. Consider some of the strategies listed under your letter choice if you think you want or need to make a step forward in your transition.

Stress Descriptions and Helpful Hints
A. If your highest total was an A, when you are feeling stressed, you may become argumentative, lacking empathy or dominating. If this seems true to you, consider these ideas as a way to move yourself forward.

  • Ask for more work to do or offer to help someone so you have plenty on your plate.
  • Find a hands-on project you can complete start to finish and control in a short time.
  • Enlist a direct and confident mentor who will push you to accomplish something big.
  • Plant a tree, clean a room or repair something that been broken for a while

B. If your highest total was B, when you are feeling stressed, you may become needlessly busy, detached or very disorganized. If this seems true to you, consider these ideas as a way to move forward.

  • Set a clear measurable goal and find someone who will hold you accountable.
  • Find a project in a new area or learn something new at work or home.
  • Establish a structure and system that helps track or monitor your to-do list
  • Focus on being where your feet are- don’t multi-task- complete one important( not urgent) project each day

C. If your highest total was C, when you are feeling stressed, you may become somewhat withdrawn, over-controlling or resistant. If this seems close to true to you, consider these ideas as way to take a next step forward.

  • Bow out of some of your commitments that involve interacting with lots of people.
  • Ask for clarity of your role often during this period of change.
  • Review the policies and procedures you have used in the past and see if they will stay the same or shift in the current situation.
  • Create a to-call list of friends and use a check system list and reach out twice a week

D. If your highest total was a D, when you are feeling stressed, you may become more pessimistic, too idealistic or indecisive. If this seems somewhat true to you, consider these ideas as a way to make your next step forward.

  • Tell those around you that you need to be alone for certain short periods of time.
  • Make careful notes on what you hear about expectations people have of you and verify with that person so there are fewer misunderstandings.
  • Schedule extra time to think and reflect on big picture ideas with a friend or partner.
  • Paint or draw a picture, do a coloring book, write a poem or send a note to someone you feel needs a lift.

Please keep top of mind the idea that the reactive or negative side of an individual’s personality will likely be more prominent when they are in the Resisting stage than if he or she is moving through the Exploring or Committing phase. Remember people don’t always follow the phases in order but can and do move ahead and step back on their Wave.

Journal Entry: How can you acknowledge the value of a person with a different personality and who may also be in a different stage of transition than you? Consider asking her or him to take the Quiz, talking about what you saw or realized and maybe having a chuckle about your results. Learning about yourself and laughter can be like medicine to help you get through this transition in your Leadership and Life.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (The Bible NIV)

“Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret anything that makes you smile.” Mark Twain.

Tomorrow’s observation will be Role Clarity Counts. People are structure-seeking beings. When change hits, each person needs to talk about his or her role and how the change will affect them and the ones they love.

Roll Up Your Sleeves – Living and Leading in a World of Constant Change, Part 1

Many of you know that I have written a new book as a follow-up to The White Shirt. The title and tag line are displayed at the top of this message today. My publisher just approved the final edits and the book will released in Fall 2020. But I wanted to share some of ideas from this book before then.

Those of you who know me well know that I am very cautious about overloading people with information, but these are unprecedented times. I thought that sharing some practical guidance from this book might be helpful to you and sooner might be better than later.

So, for the next 10 business days I will send out a Special Edition of this journal that covers the Ten Observations & One Unshakable Truth found in my book. I will not reference the current events or virus-like symptoms people are or may be experiencing. I will simply share these Observations , offer a tip or two and let you make your own applications.

I hope this will be helpful.

One Unshakable Truth – Everyone has unseen battles they are fighting. Be kind.

As best-selling author and speaker Pat Lencioni said in a recent post, “Demonstrate your concern for the very real fears and anxieties that your people are experiencing, not only professionally and economically, but socially and personally. Even though you don’t have definitive answers to all of their questions, don’t let that keep you from listening to them and empathizing with their fears. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, you should not be hesitant to share your own concerns with your people. They want to know that they can relate to you and that they are not alone in their concerns.”

Ride the wave right beside them – stay connected.
Waves of Fear

#1 Change is not the same as transition. Change is an event. Transition is the emotional stages people go through when change happens.
stages curve

This model illustrates the first observation. After a significant change event occurs, individuals move through three predictable phases of emotions: Resisting, Exploring and Committing. But before positive movement can begin after change, an “ending” or the acceptance that the past has happened (and there is no need to expend effort on “the things I should have done”) must occur for people to move forward.

Models are helpful because they add some predictability during unpredictable times – something known in the midst of the unknown . The sketch above and the list below can sometimes help a person step out of their “fear” point of view and step up to a higher viewing point and see their emotions as normal. They can begin to understand where they are in the transition process and know what to expect next.

Here is a list of thoughts and behaviors often observed in each transition phase:

Resisting: “Things were so good in the past.” Holding back feelings. Numbness. Everything as usual attitude. Repressing reality. “It’s their fault”. Anger. Loss and hurt. Blaming others. Depression. Poor sleep habits. Getting Sick. Complaining. Doubting your ability. Withdrawal.

Exploring: “What’s going to happen to me? ” Seeing possibilities. Chaos. Indecisiveness. Energy. Clarifying goals. Learning new skills or take up a hobby . Acceptance.

Committing: “Where are we headed?” Focus. Vision. Working together. Corporation. Thankfulness. Innovation. Creativity.

Journal Entry: Where are you on the waves of emotions today? Where were you 7 days ago -3 days ago – today ? What next for you? One way to help yourself and others is to share this message and talk about your experience on the transition wave, so both of you can have a better sense of what may be next as you move forward in your Leadership and Life.

“We resist transition, not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up, when and because, the situation has changed.” – William Bridges

Next we’ll take the 2nd observation: Personality matters. Every person has a unique way he or she reacts and works through transition. How and when a person rolls up their sleeves and regains their purposeful place is on their clock, not yours.

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