This article has been updated, and now appears within my company portfolio.
You can read it here:
Thank you for your visit,
This article has been updated, and now appears within my company portfolio.
You can read it here:
Thank you for your visit,
In our language of intention, D5M-ing is a listening verb.
D5M-ing your Decisions means to blend the Daily 5 Minutes practice of better listening with your decision-making.
The lesson was about Ha‘aha‘a, the Hawaiian value of humility. My dad was thoroughly convinced that if I learned about humility I’d know all I needed to know, for it would teach me everything else.
Dad knew I was fiercely independent and horrendously stubborn when I was a young manager. He felt partly responsible that I was, for he had taught me to rule my siblings with the toughest love possible while he and my mom were at work and my brothers and sister were left in my charge. I’m the eldest of five children, and my three brothers were as wild and unpredictable as boys could be. Dad felt it important that I stood by my decisions with them for consistency’s sake, and so I would be more confident, believing in myself when no adults were around (which was the rule and not the exception).
The humility lesson he taught me went something like this; I am paraphrasing, though all these years later I can still hear his voice. He said the words slowly to be sure I heard him clearly.
“Rosa, managers who are humble are the ones other people will work hard for. A humble manager listens really well. She asks the people reporting to her what they think, and why, and what they would do about things.
You don’t need to have all the answers; your job is to find them. And people who can’t learn to be humble have a hard time learning where to look for those answers. Sometimes things are right there in front of them, and they don’t even see.
Humble managers see with their ears, not with their eyes.”
He would patiently explain that it had been different between me and my brothers; that the people I managed had to be treated like adults, and not like children, even when they were resisting being adults. My dad believed that the workplace was an adult place, and it needed to have a grown-up dignity to it. He believed that the workplace could, and should be where we learned from each other.
My dad was right.
If I did anything right at all during my early years as a manager, I obeyed my dad: I asked people what they thought, and I listened as they gave me the answers I needed to find, or newly create together with them.
Over the years, my employees willingly became my living laboratory for the evolution of Managing with Aloha as a values-based sculptor of healthy workplace cultures. They gave me their complete trust during times I had not even earned it yet, mostly because I would listen to them, and learn what I needed to know. My workplace coaching and cultural reinventions today, and my unshakable belief that we CAN turn work into a labor of joy simply would not have taken shape without all my staff had taught me, starting with their willingness to talk to me openly and honestly when I simply invited them to, an invitation which would become known as The Daily 5 Minutes.
I also discovered that people didn’t just have the answers I needed; they had entire stories about them. As a good manager ”“ as a decently considerate human being ”“ I had to arrive at my best decisions having seen and having heard the whole story. Their whole story.
People surround us, waiting for us to interview them, and ask them questions about what is most important to them, and why. Their stories give us context, and more importantly, their stories give us the experiences and emotion that will contribute to better decisions. “Emotional intelligence” gives us intellectual honesty.
The people around us have the potential to be the best teachers we have ever had. They are open books which are not just past tense, written with the wealth of their past experiences; they continue to be vibrantly alive, perpetually thinking, and willing to share their thinking with us, wrapped in both the simplicity and complexity of that beautiful weaving of belief and conviction we in Hawai‘i call their mana‘o. All we have to do is ask.
But do we? Sincerely, and genuinely ready to listen as patiently and completely as need be?
That is what the Daily 5 Minutes helps us do. And that is why it is the best communication habit we can have.
My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
We are celebrating a week dedicated to The Daily 5 Minutes in wrapping up our annual October initiative, Sweet Closure, and in preparation for an exciting new program which starts November 2nd. If you are newly arriving at Talking Story, you can catch up here:
Our 1st Ruzuku alpha is now complete! Read about our results, and get up to date with the news about our next two challenges:
The D5M Ruzuku Report (and 2 New Challenges!)
The next one will begin on Monday, November 30th and remains free of charge only during this period of alpha testing.
Photo Credit: What did you say??? by law keven on Flickr
An issue for September, 2009
Some commentary on recent reads I felt compelled to pull from my learning links Tumblr, Ho‘ohana Aloha, just in case you missed them, or because I keep thinking about them: Perhaps they will resonate with you too, and we can talk story.
So let’s catch up on this September Sunday, shall we? These are the sub-headings which follow:
The Customer is NOT Always Right, and Ho‘okipa
Learning from Leaders: 9 Pen Portraits and Strengths Management
9 Fantasy Careers and Ho‘ohana
More from Ho‘ohana Aloha — What does it offer you?
Add your Mana‘o: We talk story
I have newly updated this posting, originally written for Talking Story back in July of 2005:
The Customer is NOT always right.
My trigger was an article written this past week by Seth Godin called, Win the fight, lose the customer. He writes,
smart marketers understand that the word ‘right’ in “The customer is always right” doesn’t mean that they’d win in court or a debate. It means, “If you want the customer to remain a customer, you need to permit him to believe he’s right.” If someone thinks they’re unhappy, then you know what? They are.
Our post titles may seem to be at odds, but Seth and I agree. Agreed back then, and still do: I updated some old links in my article, but did not change much else. This is an issue about having empathy for the customer, and not one about being right or wrong. Where Seth refers to smart marketers, I talk about us being good people. Have a look, and add this one to your value files on Ho‘okipa [hospitality], Ho‘ohanohano [dignity], and Ha‘aha‘a [humility]:
The Customer is NOT always right.
Below you will find 9 very brief pen portraits of managers past and present. Each one recalls a character ”“ some I met directly, others I encountered via story alone ”“ and tries to answer questions like: Who was this person? What were they memorable for? What did others learn from their leadership? Have a look and see what you think…
Stuart was a law unto himself. A prince among men who ran his offices like a royal court. His word was law but it was also thoughtful and considerate. He showed the best face of old paternalism to some of his subjects. No one who experienced Stuart’s largesse could ever forget it.
As I commented there for Paul, I can imagine so many coaching applications for this method. Two examples would be, a) helping managers appreciate their peers in looking for complementary partnerships, and b) helping managers identify strengths within their staff in terms of activities and results instead of using conventional labels.
Ally was femininity personified, carrying herself with elegance and poise, and speaking with calm and grace. When she walked into a room you noticed her immediately, and when she started to speak you were drawn to her, feeling you were gratefully pulled in by some invisible magnetic force. She was known for choosing her alliances carefully, seeming to live up to her name, and to be known as one on her team was to brandish your own reputation for quality and success.
However how much better would it be, to write a pen portrait about a real person, someone you seek to appreciate for the strengths and spirit they add to your workplace?
I strongly urge you to read Paul’s posting and the comments which follow there: Learning from Leaders: 9 Pen Portraits. These are positive profiles of strengths or compelling behavior predicators: Think about how you could use this writing exercise, adding the tool to your file on MWA Key 7: Strengths Management.
Turn your thoughts into positive action right now: Write a pen portrait about one of your stars here in my comments (or over at JJL for Paul) and then send them the link to let them know how much you appreciate and admire them.
The effervescent Karen Swim of Words For Hire gave us another winning post at Joyful Jubilant Learning this week which recalled the fantasy careers of her youth. From her introduction:
As children we all indulged in a bit of fantasizing about careers. It was our way of exploring and trying on the idea of professions until we found one that fit. I certainly had my fair share of career dreams that ranged from the wild to the wacky. […] The great thing about being a writer is that I can indulge myself in multiple careers while my feet are firmly planted doing what I love.
Nine Fantasy Careers.
Her fantasies (yep, the photo is a clue!) are a fabulous way to explore one’s Ho‘ohana [intentions within worthwhile work], easier than (and different from) the pen portraits: Our values emerge in this happy blending of dreaming and playfulness, and when we list some practical answers it begs the question, “Well, why not do it now?”
I grew up in a generation anticipating that like our parents we would devote our lives to a single career, and that is not at all the case today. It still amazes me that I myself became an example, going from manager (of a couple different incarnations and stripes) to published author and workplace culture coach, and you can bet I’m dreaming up my next one (and hoping it includes independent wealth, but you know what? Not a requirement.)
Read Karen’s post, and the exuberance and imagination of the comments there will not be lost on you. Add this one to your value file on ‘Imi ola ”“ living your best possible life, and creating your own destiny. “No way, can’t do that!” isn’t an iron-clad truth, but it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy IF you allow it to be.
Ask yourself if you are dreaming enough, and if you are willing to reinvent yourself: Think about the unlimited capacity of MWA Key 9: Palena ‘ole. Challenge those you care about to dream more and explore their career fantasies too.
If you are wondering more about Karen’s story, there was some great serendipity in the timing of her Nine Fantasy Careers for JJL and a two part interview that Rick Cecil did with her on Ruzuku: Karen Swim from there to here: Another Step Forward.
The link for Ho‘ohana Aloha can always be found at the base of the Talking Story banner up top with the primary blog navigation: It is noted as Tumblr, the name of the web-based software it runs on. I mostly use it for link-sharing, (and for the Ho‘ohana Publishing aggregation I had talked about here: 10 Publishing Lessons for Summertime 2009), however Ho‘ohana Aloha also will offer short Text postings, Photos, Quotations, Video Clips, and the occasional Audio file.
My purpose is a kind of bookmarking: I use Tumblr as a treasure box that I continually add to as I do web-reading. For instance, I use it quite a lot as I follow the links others share on Twitter, and I decide that my first read of that link discovery will not be enough — I’m sure I’ll want to return to it for some reason, investing more fully in the learning opportunity it offers me. Thus for me, the Tumblr saves learning links in a type of digital library, albeit in somewhat random form — my time of discovery.
I would love to do posts like this one about the highlights there each week, but it simply isn’t possible, so I encourage you to take a look on your own occasionally. Here are five other titles you will find there at the time of this writing:
You might also want to consider getting your own Tumblr! It is free, and very easy to use, and there is a follow feature there by which you can connect to other Tumblrs and see their newest updates scroll by on your dashboard (you can include Ho‘ohana Aloha. Good idea to follow the Tumblr Staff Blog for their tips as they beta test new features). If you have a Tumblr, let me know in the comments so I can follow you too!
And as always, the comment boxes here at Talking Story are intended for you to easily share your mana‘o with others in our Ho‘ohana Community. Consider yourself a contributor to our Talking Story (occasional) Sunday Paper, and drop in a link today: What learning did you come across on the web lately, and why did it appeal to you?
Let’s talk story, for we Ho‘ohana kākou, together,
Some of the best management advice I got over the years came from my dad. When he heard my news of an early-in-my-career promotion, one of the things he said to me was, “Now you can find your decisions instead of making them all by yourself.”
He was very aware of my natural tendency with on-the-spot decision-making based on my own sense of logic and common sense. In fact, he’d counted on me honing in on confident decision-making as one of my strengths: I was the oldest of five children, and my siblings were often left in my care as both my parents worked to make our family living. But wise man that my dad was, he knew that once I got into management, I had to get better at finding the right decision about a whole wealth of different things. Another secondary strength with explaining my own intuitive, from-my-gut-feeling decision already made, would serve me much better as a contingency and back-up option when my hunt-and-seek missions came up empty.
Finding versus Making would serve my workplace better too; it would deliver more Lōkahi [unity and harmony]. Now to find the really good stuff, I had to learn facilitation and coaching.
‘Coaching’ is an example of an old word which has exploded into management overwhelm because it became a new profession. Yes, it’s a profession which includes me, influencing my decision to name my business Say Leadership Coaching six years ago, so no small wonder that I believe the coaching profession to be helpful and worthwhile. It provides a great service to many, and it is personally fulfilling for me. However the downside to coaching having gone professional and certifiable, is that coaching as the verb has become intimidating to many managers, and they will say, “But I am not really qualified to coach my staff.” Big, big “yeah, but” and I say, you are ”“ once you choose to be, and start working on developing your coaching skills within your management calling.
Your Alaka‘i Kuleana [responsibility] is this: If you choose not to develop your own people, at the very least you’d best claim your responsibility with helping them find someone who will, and whom they choose to. The alternative is to settle for a stagnant, mediocre working environment of non-learners likely to resist change. [From the archives: How do you Learn? Really, how?]
Susan Mazza, author of the Random Acts of Leadership blog, has written an excellent article that delves into this question of manager and/or coach, and I highly recommend it: 3 Ways to be a Manager AND a Coach. She writes:
Of course a manager CAN be a coach to someone who reports to them. But the assumption that once I am your manager I am also your coach is seriously flawed.
I continue to see this assumption at play in organizations of all sizes. It can cause a lot of mischief in the relationships between managers and the people who report to them.
Don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate of managers developing strong coaching skills. Yet when we fail to establish the foundation for a successful coaching relationship, we end up with far more failures than successes and a whole lot of unnecessary frustration and disappointment.
Susan has crafted a terrific article, and you’ll learn much from the comments she’s attracted as well – do take the time to read them. As you make your own decision about this — “will I be a manager who coaches to develop people?” — I’d like to suggest learning facilitation skills as a good place to start.
Must. This is not an “if” or “when you choose to” for me: I believe that facilitation comes with the management job, harking back to when you first earn any supervisory stripes at all.
Supervision implies other people in the mix, and the assumption I’m making here is the same basic assumption made in Managing with Aloha:
“I have come to realize that yes, good managers do work with good processes, however the great managers are the ones who concentrate on how they manage people.”
Let’s not allow facilitation to intimidate us the way that coaching might. Let’s keep this simple.
To facilitate is to find a decision, just as my dad had taught me. That decision is the best-in-time result of the input of those people involved with, or influenced by the scenario that decision will seek to improve.
When we had that early conversation, and it came up repeatedly, my dad was coaching me to be absolutely sure that I asked versus told, and that I learn the humility [Ha‘aha‘a] of open-minded and inclusive [Kākou] thinking. It had usually been okay that my younger siblings were not included in my decisions while I alone was responsible for their well being in my home care; it was definitely NOT okay that I leave out my employees in our workplace, not to mention that big fact that they knew way more about the work situations they were much closer to than I was. To leave them out of my decision-making process was downright foolish.
Learning facilitation skills requires two things as prerequisites to the actual skill-learning: Curbing your impatience for quick decision-making, and the willingness to have many more conversations than you are presently having, both one-on-one and in the meetings, team, and group environments we are more accustomed to associating facilitation with.
Practice this. Your opportunities will present themselves daily. Do it the local way, and bring more conversation (and sense of place) to the workplace by talking story. Don’t jump to making your next decision impulsively or intuitively; FIND your next decision by talking to the people who are involved.
You may prove your initial gut feeling to be right, but chances are that you will learn much in that affirmation, and better yet, you will earn a higher degree of respect and appreciation from those you’ve asked for input.
Facilitate first, then learn to coach. If you aspire to be an Alaka‘i manager and feel you have that calling, I’ll bet you can do it — and I’m sure you will discover you are developing your own strengths in the process. When you are ready to coach for people development, I’ll bet the people you manage will choose you to, for you have shown them you possess a very necessary qualification: You listen.
Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share?
Photo credit: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom by Thomas Hawk. Thomas writes in his caption:
“Ran into San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom tonight at the Powell Street BART station. Mayor Newsom was out talking to homeless people who hang out and panhandle at the BART station with a few of his staff. He was trying to tell them about his programs for them and when I asked one of his staff members what they were doing he said that they were out on the streets of San Francisco talking to the people and trying to clean up the City. It was interesting to see the Mayor out on the streets just talking to people. There were no reporters or TV crews or anything else, just him and some of his staff talking to homeless people mostly.”
For those who prefer them, here are the Talking Story copies of the links embedded in this posting: