Monday, August 27, 2018

Show Kindness to Everyone

I like meeting people new to the world of leadership. They bring a special level of energy and interest to the position. And because I am getting older, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet more and more of them in executive coaching sessions and in the classes that I teach.

One of the special things that happens during these sessions is that I get delightfully bombarded with great and thoughtful questions. Recently, I was asked, “What is one thing the best leaders do that we may not recognize from our vantage point?” I like a good question and this was one of the better ones in that group that day.

“Well,” I responded, “my late brother-in-law was one of the best leaders I know in this category. Whether we talking about work or traveling together to a family reunion in Colorado, he never met a stranger. When we traveled together, we would routinely pull over to a rest stop and all of the families would pour out to use the bathrooms. Once the children were all back in the cars, we would find him standing next to a trucker talking about where he was coming from, where he was going and what he was carrying. And just before we got back in the cars, he would shake the person’s hand, thank them for what they were doing, and hope that the rest of their day went well. In essence, my late brother never met a stranger and always role modeled kindness and respect. He was a very good leader.”

And on that day, all the heads nodded around the table. Everyone could relate to this kind of person whether they were a colleague or their boss. What followed was a delightful discussion about role modeling and integrity.

This week, show kindness and respect to everyone you met. It will be a powerful act of good leadership, and the foundation for healthy, long term working relationships.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, August 20, 2018

Never Lose Sight Of Your Personal Mission

When you work with as many leaders as I have over the course of my career, certain unique characteristics start to surface. As I have written about over the course of this summer, some leaders are curious and others are addicted to learning. Some have found a place of “sanctuary” and go there often. Others routinely count their blessings and keep expanding their circle of support. But there is one unique thread that ties many of these elements all together. These leaders never lose sight of their personal mission.

In the 1980’s, very few, if any one, ever talked about a personal mission. People went on mission trips, but there was not much happening in the world of leadership and organizational change around the power and importance of mission clarity.

Then, in the early 1990’s, Stephen R. Covey wrote the book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and all of a sudden everyone was thinking about mission statements. This book by Covey was followed by another book by him called Principal Centered Leadership. Between the two, the subject of mission clarity rose to the top of the pile and everyone was talking about them and writing them. Many leaders created them for their organization and for themselves. It was an exciting and engaging process. Everyone was pumped.

However, by the late nineties and through the turn of the century, this subject started to fall by the wayside. It was not hip, trendy or a best-seller subject matter. Some organizations still worked on upgrading their statements and focused on making people sure all involved understood the mission of the organization. It was just something they did. 

And through the tumultuous challenges of 2008, this steady and focused ground work paid off. People stayed focused on what was most important and maintained perspective. Their mission clarity became a strategic advantage. It continues to be as we all move toward 2020.

But, in the midst of it, the best leaders did something else. They became more purpose driven at work and at home. They did not do the exercise of creating a personal mission statement just to say they did it. Instead, they put the time and energy into creating a mission statement that then has guided them through all the ups and downs at work, their career and their own inner journey. It became their compass in making decisions and the foundation upon which they have built their life.

This week, step away from the piles of work, voice mail messages, text messages, e-mail messages, and endless projects. Sit down in a quiet space, and ask yourself an important set of questions: 

- What is my personal mission in life? 

- What is the purpose that drives me to make the choices I make? 

- What is the foundation upon which I have built my life? 

And once you have achieved a degree of clarity about all of this, do not loose sight of it. Then, you will be walking the pathway to a purpose driven life at work and at home.  Happy reflection and writing time this week!

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Teamwork in the Digital Era

“Today’s teams are different from the teams of the past,” write Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen in their very good article called “The Secrets of Great Teamwork” in the Harvard Business Review, June 2016. As a result, these “new” teams are called 4-D teams. 4-D teams are more project based, i.e. they are organizing the work as a series of projects. And as a result, the 4-D teams are expected to rapidly adapt and make course corrections as the problem, the team, and the environment change.

However, after nearly two years of visiting with senior leaders, I have found five unique problems within the 4-D team world. First, their success is based on multidirectional feedback. For example, upward feedback from employees to leaders is essential along with downward feedback from leaders to employees. But sideways feedback from peer to peer is not working well at all. Second, people on 4-D teams often work in isolation and are not co-located with their teammates. Third, with digital communication as the primary form of communication, 4-D teams routinely encounter technological barriers to their work. Fourth, most team leaders have not established clear communication norms so many issues get blown out of proportion or completely missed. Finally, there is a clear lack of clarity about frontline decision-making rights. The outcome overall is that many 4-D teams and their leaders are struggling.

Given the above, I will dedicate the entire Fall 2018 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable to a discussion about teamwork in the digital era. This will be the culmination of 2 years of listening to senior leaders, visiting with a  diverse collection of teams, and observing what is and is not working. I am very excited to share this information with all of you. 

Here is the agenda for your review:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

- 8:30 am - Arrival & Visiting Time
- 9:00 am - 10:15 am - What is the foundation for long term, successful teamwork?
- 10:15 am - 10:30 am - Break
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - How do leaders build successful teams?
- 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch & Networking 
- 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm - How do leaders maintain successful teams?
- 2:45 pm - 3:00 pm - Break
- 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm - How do leaders improve team performance?
- 4:30 pm - Adjourn

Thursday, September 20, 2018

- 9:00 am - 10:15 am -What are the keys to being a successful team leader?
- 10:30 am - 12:00 pm - Integration and Application
- 12:00 pm - Adjourn

The registration price for this unique event is $ 295.00 for the two days and $ 195.00 for a single day.

 Here is the link to the registration form:

So, sign up today and be prepared for this unique opportunity to explore in-depth the subject of teamwork in the digital era. 

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, August 13, 2018

Be Curious and Keep Learning

Every once in a while, I meet a leader, who is under tons of pressure, swamped with projects, and handling endless strategic and operational challenges, and yet is not burning out in the process. Most people in situations of this nature would collapse under the strain of it all, and yet these individuals are doing just fine.

Initially, I thought they must have a very high threshold for chaos. Some would even say they thrive on it. But I don’t think this is the case anymore because having done this work for decades and having worked with these individuals over time and through multiple troughs of chaos plus a few Grand Canyons of chaos, I have discovered a small but important insight.

These unique leaders are curious. Every day they are interested in seeing what happens next. They come to work with an open mind and are very excited to see how the day will unfold.

And along with their curiosity, there is an immense desire to keep learning. At the end of a day of meetings and consultations, these unique leaders want to go out for dinner and debrief the day. It is common for them to share with me about the “lessons learned” from the day and how they will apply them in the morning. It is their curiosity in combination with this inner drive to keep learning that gives them the capacity to handle the pressures, the burdens and the many expectations of the senior position.

One other interesting fact about these leaders is that their curiosity and desire to keep learning is not limited to work. After the debriefing about the day, it is common for them to share with me about a home project that they are immersed in which gives them great joy. I have listened to people share about family genealogy, a new project in their wood working shop, or the rebuilding of an engine on an antique car. These hobbies and projects in combination with this special mindset allows them to stay balanced and focused in the midst of it all.

This week, ask yourself, what am I curious about these days? Where am I learning the most at work and at home? Then, give yourself permission to explore these new ideas, new perspectives and new projects. It is time for us to have interesting things in our life that feed us fresh insights, energy and perspectives. It will keep us young in mind, body and spirit in spite of all the challenges in the big world.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, August 6, 2018

Count Your Blessings

It was a cold, winter morning as I boarded a United flight from Chicago to the east coast. I had been up before dawn and taken the first flight out of Cedar Rapids to the windy city. I was delighted that everything was running on time and hoping it would keep staying on time. 

Bundled up in my winter coat and keeping my head down as I entered my second flight of the day, the stewardess on board greeting me by say, “Good morning sir. How are you today?”

I responded with a typical midwestern answer of “Fine. And you?”

“Blessed beyond measure” was her answer. 

I was so stunned by her comment that I stopped walking. I straightened up, smiled, met her eyes and said “Thank-you.” Her three words were a sermon, a blessing, and a gift, all at the same moment. This summer I have tried to carry this depth of awareness as I go about my daily work. 

Over the course of my career, I have met many people who were going through intense and difficult life experiences. From the diagnosis of a terminal illness to divorce, from the loss of a child to the loss of faith, for these people waking up and getting out of bed is like climbing a mountain. They question whether or not it is worth the effort to keep moving forward given all they experience.

When they have shared at this level with me, I am humbled. If only others knew how much personal pain people carry through the land of organizational change. And yet I have learned one thing, there are miracles and blessings in the midst of it all. The smile of a loved one or child can be up-lifting. The kindness of a stranger can be transformative. The gift of time and compassion to truly listen and be understood. We often get so busy that we forget that these little things can be life-giving, hope rebuilding.

This week, spend time each day counting some of your blessings. Put it all back into perspective and realize that we are all blessed beyond measure, even in the midst of our hardest days in the land of leadership.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257