Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Be outspoken

Here's the story. At work, I ran into some folks I quite like. I was glib and irreverent at the expense of my current project. You know… the usual. It was then I noticed a new face sitting quietly and listening. Someone who did not know that my foot rests often in my mouth and that I sometimes put it there deliberately.

Immediately, I thought: "Rats. Now they think I don't know what I'm doing and that I'm a pain. Maybe they're deciding not to like me. Will I have to work with them? Did I say anything I don't stand behind?" …and on and on chased the squirrels in my brain.

 Stop, I thought. You have become an outspoken, opinionated person… and that's alright. Speak your mind. Use humour if appropriate. Ask questions. Worry less about being liked and more about liking yourself. Do the right thing instead of worrying about what the right thing might be. Be considerate without being quiet.

It was like my own Canada Day. Independence from my own nagging voice. Not that having that voice chime in is a bad thing all the time; everyone needs to check the controls once in a while to make sure you're on course. It's just now I trust my regular voice more often. I am the mouthy broad my mother always hoped I'd never be and I'm enjoying it! (I think…)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Are we losing our sense of community in this century?

In a wonderful article/interview with Zygmunt Bauman "Social Media are a Trap," he states: "We are in a period of interregnum, between a time when we had certainties and another when the old ways of doing things no longer work. We don’t know what is going to replace this."

Mr. Bauman stresses that growing tension between our identities as a community and our personal identities. While he references social frameworks such as political and geographical, he mentions how uncertainty is hitting many people - from where they will work to the desire for freedom in a world demanding security (which curtails individual freedom for the 'greater good'). He points out that while 'community' is out of our control, networks are something we can choose deliberately. "The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it’s so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with."

He limits the concept of network to a social media framework and goes on to say that  "But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap." 

It is true. We don't often talk with folks with whom we may disagree. We don't seek out dissenting opinions often because we want to hear critical feedback in a safe environment. Networks should include those with whom we can have those difficult conversations: mentors; friends; family.

In his book, In Moral Blindness, he warns about the loss of community in our individualistic world. What I believe is harder for his studies to see or mention are the numerous 'kitchen tables' being built by those who understand the power of community and networks in their truest sense: survival.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Delegation - Level 4

Delegation Level 4: You do it with input from me. 
It's your final decision but I will attempt to shape the outcome as I'm giving up the ownership to you but not letting go all the way...

Whether this is a coaching or mentoring conversation, this is the toughest kind of delegation. Like letting a teen set their own curfew, it's a balance of trust, boundaries and communication.

If you're the person letting go of ownership, be clear:

  • Which decisions do /do not remain with you
  • How often you would like updates and in what format
  • What you will both do if you (the person letting go) do not feel comfortable with a decision for which you relinquished ownership
  • What you expect if you (the person letting go) are perceived to be moving back to Level 2 type oversight
  • How you will evaluate the process once the job is complete

Delegation is both a compliment to another's abilities and a test of their own leadership. It is hard for someone to be judged by how well their team or partner does while letting go of directly managing the activities. Positive results are a compliment to both parties. Negative results can be a test of real leadership - not in retaking of the reins but in providing "air cover," a second chance and an acceptance of risk.

Absolute control is rarely the best answer. It's sometimes the only answer a person knows; that's why delegation is a learned skill.