Syrus Lenco, CEO at a large company said he was having morale problems in the ranks. He asked me to assess the corporate culture and deliver a report.
At the end of a few weeks I came to him with the results. "You don't have a morale issue, Syrus. You have a leadership issue."
"What do you mean,"" Syrus was perturbed. "I'm pleasant. I get along with my staff. We work well together."
"At least on the surface," I answered. "Have you ever noticed that your staff usually agrees with you and goes along with what you say?"
"Why wouldn't they?" he shrugged."I told you we work well together."
"It does appear that way, doesn't it," I insisted gently.
"I don't get it," Syrus leaned forward on his desk. "What are you saying?"
"You have an approval oriented culture, Syrus," I answered.
"What's that mean?"
"Your people avoid conflict so it appears that most of the relationships in your organization are pleasant. Everyone gets along... at least superficially." I was getting a bit bolder now. "People keep their mouths shut when they have a differing opinion, but inside they're quietly raging."
"I always tell my team members to speak up," he said. "I tell them their ideas and opinions count." He was reflective. 'They just don't say very much to say so they go along with what I want."
"That's the point." I could see he was beginning to get it.
"I thought it was because they had nothing to say." He was thoughtful now.
"They have a lot to say, Syrus, but at some level they are seeking security in their relationship with you and probably with each other. As a result constructive differing and the free expression of ideas has been dampened."
"What am I going to do?" He fell back in his chair.
"Let's just take this a step at a time," I offered. "Write this down," I said.
"LESSON #1: PEOPLE ARE NEVER MOTIVATED BY BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO. PEOPLE ONLY GET MOTIVATED WHEN THEY HAVE AN INSIGHT, AN AHA EXPERIENCE!"
Syrus picked up a pen began furiously writing on a notepad. "You see," I continued, "Insight is accompanied by a chemical signature that moves people to action."
Syrus finished writing and put his pen down as the alarm on his phone went off. Time out he signaled. "I have a meeting," he said. "Besides, this is a lot to digest. Can we meet in a few days to continue with our conversation."
"That's great," I agreed. "But I'd like you to look at life through the lens of the following statement and share your insights with me at our next meeting."PEOPLE ARE MOVED TO ACTION BY INSIGHT," I said, as I shook his hand. "I'll make an appointment with your secretary." And I left for the day knowing that Syrus and I were at the beginning of a great adventure.
To Be Continued...
Copyright: D. Trinidad Hunt 2009
Today more than ever before we need the creative ideas and efforts of everyone on the team. We don't need a team of 30 people with only 1, 2 or 3 contributors.
Creativity and innovation do not spring eternal from the heart of organizations. When we do see creative and innovative endeavors springing forth from people you can rest assured that those in positions of leadership nurtured it.
Here's a quick checklist of things you can do to inspire creative and innovative ideas and developments from your team:
1. Make the atmosphere and environment safe for open dialogue and discussion. This does not mean positioning and posturing but true and authentic exchanges regarding improving our results.
2. Ask people for their ideas. Engage in an annual or biannual 'Ideas for Improving our Results' brainstorming session. Prioritize the ideas once you've done the basic generating work. Then take action on the "winables" first and the more challenging items as you get better at the game.
3. Welome new and outrageous ideas, engage with them and hear them out. We don't find new paths by continually revisiting the old.
4. Make experimentation acceptable. The best way to do this is by a controlled method of testing. Experiment within a small group or department and analyze the results. Tweak from there!
5. Make it fun!!! Nobody wants to participate in drugery. People want to be successful, make a difference, and enjoy the process. This doesn't mean all of our work is fun. But it does mean we can lighten up and turn creativity and innovation to our advantage!
I have had one of the most delightful visits with my mother in a long time! We took off the day after her birthday and left her home in Grants Pass headed south towards Sacramento to see her 93 year old sister.
Rather than tell the story of our 6 days together in words, I'll share a few photos... We covered a lot of territory in a short time. Every day we went on a new adventure. The first shot on the left is Craig Mountain in northern California.
The final picture below is a buffalo in Wildlife Safari.
Mom and I both agreed that it would be so much more fun if we lived a bit closer to one another. Alas, I'm headed back north to Portland tomorrow and back to Hawaii on Monday.
Of all things most remarkable, I wonder at the word 'mother'. In every language it's the same... a mother is a mother forever. No matter where I go or what I do, no matter what my age or how far I wander the earth in my work and travels there is forever and there always will be only one mother.
My mother will be 91 on June 13th and I am going to join her for a week to celebrate this wonderful event. I feel so blessed that she is still here on the planet and healthy. We intend to play and celebrate our relationship for an entire week.
My mother always nurtured my creativity. And when I had a special invisible friend for all those younger years, my mom fed and bathed him and made room for him to sit beside me in the car when we went somewhere together.
A quote by Alice Walker seemed to say it so well. "And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not
anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they
themselves never hoped to see -- like a sealed letter they could not
Do you have a special mother story to share? What gift did your mother give you? Please let us hear your mother story. It would mean a lot to me.
I was just reminded by two of you who participated in our Australian seminars that the best of intentions, goals and commitments often fall prey to the daily exigencies of life in a nano-second real time world. The comfort zone and old habits often kick in and then lots of To Do items, e-mails, customer and boss requests emerge demanding immediate attention and diffusing our focus.
Here is my personal strategy for consistent success...
- Read your top 5 goals every night before retiring. This sets up my super-conscious and subconscious dream time.
- Review these goals every morning.
- Pick 1 'winable' goal to work on and chunk it into small achievable action steps.
- Integrate these small action steps into your weekly plan.
- Tick off 2 or 3 of these and celebrate your small completions weekly. This fuels the fire of inspiration and motivation to keep going.
What goal are you working on this week? I would love to hear of your progress. Is there any challenge you are facing? Is there a block or barrier that has crept in to challenge your intention? What is your formula for achieving success?
Remember that Winston Churchill said, 'Continuous effort not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.'
Just last week one of the participants in a course I was running threw a great question at me. It was a question that I think each of us has asked at one time or another. "So Trinidad," she said, "How do you break a habit when you realize that it no longer serves you or supports your growth?"
I responded instantly with, "The simple answer to that is, you don't break a habit!"
The deep structure answer to that is that if you try to break a habit, you only deepen the habit. In fact, the more attention you give to the habit you want to change, the more deeply entrenched it becomes. For every habit that you and I have, there is a neural highway widely traveled in the brain. Every time the habit kicks in the chemical and electrical neural circuitry runs a repetitive path in the brain.
So the secret is... take your attention off the habit that you want to change and put your attention on the new habit you want to form. As you do this, you begin to create a new neural pathway. It's like diverting a train from the main line its been traveling to a brand new line. Leave the old track alone and make a new track!
And the more you access that track, the more attention you give to it, the more entrenched the new track becomes. Below is a simple 6 step process for making a new habit.
- Have a new insight or make a new decision.
- Reflect on it. Visualize it. Storyboard your interpretation of it and write it as a goal statement.
- Speak of your intention to a close friend or partner.
- Take action.
- Assess the results. Compliment yourself on what worked and course correct where necessary.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 over time until the new behavior becomes the automatic behavior!
For those of you who are interested, I did a series on changing habits dated March 26th and 31st, continuing on into April. You may want to track back and have a look.
Thank You, Australia... It's been a fantastic trip! I'll be back in August to see many of you again and I'm really looking forward to it!