Our Most Important Words

You may have seen this before…
I do think it is worth a quick visit for our self-coaching for the day. They will create a Language of Intention within us, one which seeks to value the other people who add so much to our lives.

5 (most important words): I am proud of you!

4 (most important words): What do you think?

3 (most important words): If you please.

2 (most important words): Thank you.

1 (most important word): You.

A gambian smile by Ferdinand Reus on Flickr
A gambian smile by Ferdinand Reus on Flickr

Let’s try this: Write them out on an index card you tuck into your pocket, and then give yourself another star every time you say them today! I’ll bet you’ll be walking on a cloud by the time evening arrives.

A Say “Alaka‘i” Flashback for #FridayFlash: The Vision

The Vision

“If she starts on us about Vision in today’s huddle again I swear I’m gonna puke.”

“Yeah, me too. Jeez, what’s the hold-up up there?”

Stacey and Diana tried to be patient as they waited their turn to order in the Starbucks line, but they were cutting it too close to starting time as it was, and they needed another scapegoat to direct their irritation toward. Their manager Ally was a convenient target.

They had office hours, and so the workday always started with a stand-up huddle. Just 15 minutes to dish about the workday to come and get everyone in the mood; to corral their energies and light a fire here or there. Anyone could strike that match, and so huddle was usually something they both looked forward to, each cradling their grande café lattes and not hesitating to jump into the conversation without much prompting at all.

But in the last week everyone was quiet, Stacey and Diana included, and Ally did most of the talking. She was using the time to explain about a new corporate Vision Statement handed down from the powers that be, and everyone just wasn’t having it. Ally probably felt their daily huddle was a good time to ease into the corporate-speak, breaking it down bit by bit, and in her single-minded focus with it she missed seeing that everyone else was way less than enthusiastic.

“You know, I hate to admit this, for it makes me sound like a company girl groupie of some kind, but I feel like we’ve been robbed ”“ isn’t huddle supposed to be for all of us? We can’t get a word in edgewise lately.”

“Yeah, Ally doesn’t seem to notice she’s been grandstanding and taking up all the time on this Vision thing. I get that it’s important, but it woulda been much better if she hauled us into one of those 2-hour afternoon meetings and just dispensed with all of it in one fell swoop.”

“That’s funny when you think about it. Imagine us wanting to have another meeting.”

Commiseration can be useful sometimes, for they’d reached the front of the line.

“Hey, good morning. Yep, grande café latte for each of us, as usual. You know what, give me an extra shot today.”

“Yeah, sounds good. Make mine a triple too.”

Vision was requiring an awful lot of caffeine.

For the second cup... by HAMED MASOUMI on Flickr
For the second cup... by HAMED MASOUMI on Flickr

A few Talking Story questions to think about:

And we can talk story about it if you care to.

If you were a character in this short story, who would you be?

If you were Stacey or Diana, would you continue to wait out the Vision creep in huddle, or would you speak up and suggest the meeting?

Why do you suppose they haven’t spoke up if this is bugging them so much?

If you were coaching Ally, what advice would you give her?

How can a Vision handed down from a corporate office be more engaging and attractive to people who have not co-authored it?

Let’s talk story!

About #FridayFlash

I just learned about #FridayFlash late last night while doing my own Leading with Twitter, and these fictional characters popped into my head this morning as I took my daily run.

I was still thinking about my posting yesterday too: The Leadership/Management Partnership Toward Vision, and about all that you, as a manager, may have to do just so you can lay the groundwork for what I suggest within your managing and leading strategies.

Know this: It IS all manageable, and I DO believe you can do it!

When I think of all the Allys, Staceys and Dianas out there who may be struggling in the workplace, my own faulty messing around outside my comfort zone (with writing a short fictional story as my first #FridayFlash attempt) is completely worth it. Believe it or not, I haven’t even had my coffee yet!

If this is your first time to Talking Story in following the Twitter #FridayFlash hashtag WELCOME, and thank you so much for clicking in! A quick look at this page will tell you about the Say “Alaka‘i” connection: I am a non-fiction author who writes on values, managing and leading, for I believe managers matter. Alaka‘i is the Hawaiian value of leadership in my book, Managing with Aloha.

When I read J. M. Strother’s write-up about #FridayFlash I loved the thought of how fiction could help make our efforts to manage better get illustrated in short connective stories managers could relate to, and think more deeply about. Stories have such an amazing way of making academic theory and biz-speak concepts come alive so they are truly relevant. To those of you who are the master of the short story, I look forward to learning more from you, and plan on doing my commenting for the #FridayFlash community over the coming weekend. Until then, mahalo nui loa, thank you so much for your visit here.

The Leadership/Management Partnership Toward Vision

I often encourage you to think of leadership and management as verbs instead of nouns: Think of them as leading and managing. One person ”“ the Alaka‘i manager ”“ does both things, and can do them daily.

One way to self-coach yourself into embracing this concept, getting it to be more useful for you in day-to-day practice, is to choose another noun and then Ho‘o it (‘verb it’ to make it happen) in your own definition of a leadership connection versus a management connection ”“ or as a complementary partnership, with one enhancing the other.

From the archives: Be a Deskless Manager: Ho‘o!
My favorite Hawaiian coaching word is a very short one: Ho‘o. We hear it more as a prefix to other Hawaiian words, as it turns nouns into verbs. By itself, ho‘o means to make something happen. Ho‘ohana: Work on purpose, and with intention. Ho‘ohanohano: Bring dignity and respect to your actions. Ho‘okipa: Give unconditional hospitality, and serve. Ho‘oponopono: Make things right, bring them to balance.

Chaya and Michelle by drurydrama on Flickr
Chaya and Michelle by drurydrama on Flickr. Leading and managing can partner in much this same way, where the blossom is vision.

Let’s do that today with a noun which is fairly huge in business-speak: VISION. As a business owner recently reminded me, motivational speakers and other business gurus can make a big deal about vision, but mostly from the leadership perspective. So let’s look at it as a leadership/management partnership instead, for there most certainly is leading and managing within the attainment of any vision.

We Lead with Vision to Show the Way Forward

We have defined leadership as the creation of workplace energies around an idea or meaningful cause, and those future-shaping ideas and causes are collectively referred to as vision; they paint a picture of what we would like to see happen.

When we lead, we are intent on getting change to happen, for we do accept that “if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’re going to get the same things we’ve always gotten.” If we do the same work, we get the same result. What vision does for us, is articulate a different result in a very compelling way so that we begin to want it badly ”“ badly enough to start expending the efforts connected to personally meaningful change.

When we lead with vision, we get the promise of the future to be a significant influence on the workplace: The more compelling it is, the more people salivate for it and thus the more they will willingly embrace whatever change is necessary to get closer to it, leaving their yesterdays behind once and for all.

Vision has some fantastic deliverables. Besides change, a compelling vision serves up positivity, hope and optimism. It tickles our imagination and thus our creativity and inventiveness. It gives us the reasons we need to work harder and smarter, while feeling we will have a personal stake in the rewards of doing so.

One of the greatest gifts a manager (who leads) can give an employee, is a picture of the future which has that employee greatly valued and participating within it. Great leaders make room in great visions for people to see themselves flourishing.

No wonder motivational speakers and business gurus make such a big deal about vision (and yes, I do too!)

We Manage with Vision so Work Processes are Worthwhile

The problem with an over-bearing emphasis on a Vision of the future, is that it can make today’s work seem to be of minimal importance, and can actually devalue it. We can fail to see “what’s the use?” within the work we do today, if all we talk about is how great things will be when change kicks in and we arrive at tomorrow.

This is where managing steps in and engages with vision in the best possible way: It connects today with tomorrow within the playground of workplace productivity, and it values the work being done right now. Managing smartly also makes the vision appear to be reasonable and highly achievable.

One of the best things a manager can do for their people is to appreciate the work they are currently engaged with in the here and now, elevating the importance of every effort they make, every conversation they have, and every task they complete. No one ever wants to feel the work they do is irrelevant or for naught, and while peer appreciation is important, managers have more credibility with assigning worth to work than they realize they do.

We have defined management as the channeling of workplace energies into optimal productivity: Alaka‘i managers capitalize on the best their people have to offer today, appreciating their strengths and their effort to deploy those strengths in whatever avenue presents itself as a road to the future.

Be Biased Toward a Sense of Urgency

Now make this real. Get this distinction of leading with vision and managing with vision to work for you in your own workplace by adding your detail.

What is the vision you are currently working on within your workplace? How will it cause change, and in what increments?

How do you, as an Alaka‘i manager lead with that vision?
Be specific about the deliverables you will receive within the change you champion. Are you insisting on greatness?

How do you, as an Alaka‘i manager manage with that vision?
Again, be specific. This time, be specific about the worth of the systems and processes you are engaged in right now. Why are they worthwhile? Does everyone understand the connections, and have you appreciated the right efforts enough? If you discover you cannot make a process connect to any current vision, you have a sacred cow on your hands ”“ eliminate that process immediately, for it is unworthy of your people and another moment of their efforts. You cannot allow it to drain any energy.

In both leading and managing, my advice to you is to be biased toward a sense of urgency: The future need not be that far away. It could be tomorrow. It could even be the end of today.

Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share?

For those who prefer them, here are the Talking Story copies of the links embedded in this posting:

Article originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” August 2009
The Leadership/Management Partnership Toward Vision

Time to Seize Control. Be Commanding!

I received a phone call recently which made me do my little hula dance of joy. The call was from a former client who had invested in a few Managing with Aloha workshops for his staff about three years ago (by ‘invested’ I mean it was not a flavor-of-the-month training for them, and they followed-up. Still do), and after our hellos and small talk to catch up he said,

“Rosa, I’d like to book another Ho‘ohana Session for all my staff. I don’t care if other people still feel we are in a recession: I’m not going to sit around and wait for the rest of the world any longer.

No more hesitation or conservative thinking, for quietly playing it safe isn’t a winning strategy for us. Time for us to get moving again and you can help move us faster.”

In other words, he’s seizing control and placing himself in charge of his own destiny [‘Imi ola].

Chain link resting place

His company is extremely lucky to have him at the helm. Playing it safe is for wimps, and wimps don’t lead winning businesses, or develop winning teams of people.

We’d all have come out of the economic messes we might still be in if each and every one of us had made the same courageous decision months or even years ago. Perhaps not to book a session with me (though that would be nice) but definitely that decision to get moving in a more forceful, positive direction, and to deal with the business of life on our own terms.

To seize control and be commanding is a very good thing.

‘Control’ is one of those words that has a bad rep, especially when it comes to leadership, for we have been conditioned to prefer words like ‘ownership’ and ‘engagement;’ pull and persuade words over more forceful push words. However I love these stronger words when it comes to our own butt-kicking. I’d love to see more business people get back in charge of their own destiny and seize control again with both hands, just as my recommitted client has done.

Where do you stand?

Are you taking a stance today, in the right here, right now?

Is it time you seize back control too?

The Gallup Organization labels this willingness ”“ this eagerness to be in control a strength, one they refer to as ‘command:’

“Command leads you to take charge” Once your goal is set, you feel restless until you have aligned others with you” People are drawn to those who take a stance and ask them to move in a certain direction. Therefore, people will be drawn to you. You have presence. You have Command.”
—Tom Rath, StrengthsFinder 2.0

Alaka‘i managers are commanding. They lead with their own ideas, their own energies, and their eagerness to be in charge, in control, and in fully confident command.

Those are never traits to apologize for or be hesitant about. It’s long been time to be more assertive, aggressive and brave. If any of those more forceful words make you squirm, well good.

Are you an Alaka‘i manager up to the challenge?

We certainly need you to be. That much is very, very clear.

From the Say “Alaka‘i” archives:

Leaders Don’t Wait for Any Cycle was written in November of 2008. How much movement and progress might you have realized in your own business if you had seized control and command back then?

Article originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” August 2009
Time to Seize Control. Be Commanding!