Monday, December 14, 2009

Sustainability: Working and Living Through Constant Change - part #1

THEME: Fall 2009 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable Report

FOCUS: Sustainability: Working and Living Through Constant Change - part #1

Monday morning: December 14, 2009

Dear friends,

It was the day after an all day strategic planning retreat. As I walked in with my roller bag before my afternoon flight, I noticed two women in an office cubical. One of them motioned me over. So I wove my way through the maze and sat down. One of them looked me in the eyes and said, “I am overwhelmed given all we talked about yesterday. I am working 14 hour days and have been doing so since the spring. I can barely keep up.”

Then, she started to cry and was very embarrassed by the depth of her emotional response. I gave her my complete and undivided attention while the other woman went looking for some Kleenex. Once back and with a box of tissues in hand, we moved to a conference room. She cried some more with lots of hand waving with the hope of not smudging her morning make-up.

She shared about her mother being sick, not sleeping well, and just wanting time to rest. I told her that her feelings were normal and OK. I also pointed out that she needs to take charge of her priorities. She was a smart woman who could figure this out, but she needed to activate her support network.

I explained to her that being the lone leader was not the key to her success. She needed a team, and she needed to ask for what she needs. Then, I asked her, “what do you need?” Her response was “I need someone to help me train all of the new people.” Having visited with the CEO, I knew she could ask for this as it had already surfaced in a conversation with the CEO. But she needed the courage to go in and ask.

This is the hard part of being a leader, namely finding one’s voice and then having the courage to use it. Some days we forget that courage comes from clarity, not from exhaustion or fear. The source of clarity and courage is not fear, but clarity of purpose or mission.

I think in many organizations clarity comes when we know what role we play in the vast and complex work of planning, execution and evaluation. During the Fall 2008 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable, I explained that empowered people have confidence in their ability and their knowledge. They have confidence in their team and their company. They believe they can make the right decisions, and they believe they are role modeling what is most important. From my experience, this confidence comes from an understanding of one’s role in the organization, and understanding what is one’s circle of influence. This confidence also comes from answering these three questions, namely “where have we come from?”, “who are we now?”, and “where are we going?”.

During this wild and wacky recession, there have been few sources of hope and many people have loss the passion for the work they are doing. Furthermore, some people just want to keep off the radar screen because right now their work place is a target rich environment for blame. The result is a roller coaster ride of emotions every day. Everyone is tired of worrying and everyone is seeking ways to regain perspective.

This week realize that personal perspective comes from personal discipline. When we are clear about our intentions, namely our purpose, our goals, and our attention, our focus, then we are moving forward in a healthy direction.

Have a good week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

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