Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another thought on gender

In the day-to-day interactions, I think it's less about gender and more about balance of power and/or understanding differences (in colour, belief, attitude, idea, etc.).

When folks are faced with the unfamiliar, they often mock or denigrate it. Those faced with a threat to their power (perceived or real) often beat with their power (limited or vast).
Unfortunately, even in Canada, many women have less power and are seen as 'different'. I kind of revel in that as there's joy there as well!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Your resume is your story

Resumes are a horrid way to get to know someone - a rotten 'cold calling card'.  Some read like over-hyped ads, some like unedited novels and chronological resumes!... don't get me started on how misleading those are! :-)  From the fact that they create the assumption that if you haven't done "it" before, you're not qualified now, to the problem of missing time, to the inability to see how a patchwork adds up to the skills of a leader.

I've tried all kinds of things to supplement or replace the resume. Most of it has stood me well and has helped, but not resolved, the issue of of the resume.

Part of the problem is, as above, in the creation of the resume. The other part of the problem is that most folks have no idea how to read a resume properly or the time to do so.

The other day at the discussion around leadership and storytelling, some one said something that I hope may be of use to you and your mentors / mentorees. 
Every bullet point on your resume should be the starting point of a story you'd like to share.

If all we do is edit our current resumes with that statement in mind, imagine how many extra doors might open?

Investigated social media issues to develop a company strategy
Investigated social media issues - including collaboration concepts  - to create an NA employee experience

Suddenly there is a story, an implied opinion, a focus.

Instead of closed statements or vague assertions, get the reader to want to discuss how the exciting thing you did / skill you showed will help their team achieve new heights. Not as hyperbole, but as fact.

Tell your story!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A handshake

I will confess, I prefer a hug to transfer true intent and emotion but the handshake will do in a pinch.

It's something we do every day without a second thought. We don't practice it (well, we may have when we were very young) and we don't count how many times a day we do it.

It's a great mentoring topic actually - when to shake, how to shake, what a shake means. Different cultures and circumstances make this seemingly innocuous act rife with potential to connect or confuse.

"A simple handshake. A ritual performed so often and with so little conscious thought as to be practically an instinctual reflex. Although the exact origin is difficult to pinpoint, there is a widespread belief that in its oldest form the handshake signified the handing of power from a god to an early Egyptian ruler. Centuries later, it was this magical aspect of the handshake that was so magnificently rendered on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In Medieval times, it might mean anything from a friendly greeting to a quick check for concealed weapons. In the twenty-first century, the handshake had evolved into an important social custom, a symbol of honor and good faith, it "sealed the deal." But could it be magic? What exactly was exchanged in that special moment of pure personal interaction - a little sweat, some exfoliated skin cells, a warm fuzzy feeling. What else?"
Ken Altabef - excerpt from "Pleased to Meetcha" published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Aug. 2006

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

So... what do you do?

If someone asked you "What do you do?" - do you have a prepared answer for that?
  • Is it one that opens the door for conversation or one that offers as little interesting information as possible?
  • Is it one you can use at a party or just a meeting where everyone knows why they are in the room?
  • Is your answer just your job title and where you work?
  • Is it about the value you hope you bring or the work you find exciting?
  • In short, is your answer a story about you that invites others to want to turn the page?
  • Can you deliver it in 3 sentences or less?
None of the above is easy - not the choices, not the telling. Certainly, I'm stumped every time someone asks me that simple question and I mentor others on this subject! :-)

I prepare three versions and hope I'm not tongue-tied when asked. If a bottle of wine is involved, I give the long version....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Truth or Dare...

I have a few friends who love the chain emails where you fill out lists of questions that ask: what you're reading; what you'd take to a desert island; what job you'd hold if you already had a million dollars...  Then there are similar lists on social networking sites - even the professional ones - that are awfully similar when it comes down to it.

Most of us fill the emails out (if we participate at all depending on the friend, the list and the hairiness of the day...) with a few flip remarks designed to make others laugh.  We fill the questions on the social media sites very seriously - thinking through answers designed to impress those who might take the time to read our profile. In short, we cater to an audience.

There is nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing. It's just that sometimes, blogging late at night, I wonder what we'd put if we thought no one was looking. What might we say that may not impress but might reveal? I may very well be reading The No Asshole Rule (thanks Taavi) but I am also reading a book of fantasy stories - and that's the one you'd find in my purse.

We are trained to impress. However, deeper connections with your community come from a revealing moment. So when it is appropriate to do one over the other? Have you thought it through? Talked it through with a mentor?

Revealing can be impressive in and of itself...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is the gender differences debate largely an excuse?

There always seems to be a lot of articles on why there is a gender gap... why women and men think differently... why we react differently, etc. The debate between nature and nuture - how we are wired vs. how we are socialized - rages on.

I know that uncovering the root of a mystery, helps us towards a resolution. Finding a cure comes from seeking the cause. Correcting a behaviour is tied to pinpointing the source motivation.

But sometimes we can just start fixing and changing. While I'm just as fascinated with why as anyone else, it starts to feel like the research is an excuse to stall (how can we change a generation's thinking) or shrug in defeat (we're just wired that way).

Do we really need to know in order to see more women considered for top executive positions? Do we need to prove we can all get along to see a better mix on boards? Does our wiring matter when it comes to protecting the battered?

Colour should not matter. Race should not matter. Age should not matter. Gender should not matter. We need everyone's skills and all points of view to solve the big issues like poverty, peace and hunger.

Get over it, as my kid says. The debate is one piece of the puzzle... do more than debate; be an agent of change.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Where to go for mentoring tips?

I was asked to pull together a monthly digest of all the sites, blogs, articles and videos (etc.) that have caught my eye each month on the topic of mentoring.

Of course, no one mentioned that they read this blog... LOL

I realised that much of my inspiration comes from conversations and emails with you.

I am not about to put folks' email addresses and say "Go forth and converse!" though it would be an interesting approach.

I did do a few hours of internet searching - found lots of sites selling me their course, listing the Top Ten Tips (which all look the same and don't really help), or talking about mentoring "youth"... because of course the rest of us are too over the hill to learn or need a community? ha!

So where are you going for inspiration on mentoring as either a mentor or mentoree? Who do you go to? How often? What inspires your conversations? What helps you become a better mentor/mentoree?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gathering around the 'story fire'

The storytelling session I described has left me with some wonderful musings around leadership.

One I've been thinking about how to use better is: If the campfire is the oldest "story fire" we know, how can we use the concept of townhalls and conferences to share and/or create stronger stories around the issues driving us to gather in the first place?

In this age of matrixed teams and consensus, it's harder to define leadership. So how can we use story to influence? And how does that story create a point of influence that allows one to influence a decision or been seen as the compelling voice?

A great discussion to have with my mentor and mentorees?