November 3, 2009
A call to action
This past week I've been to a conference that's been life-altering. Now, that's a tall order and over the next few weeks I will share with you what I've experienced, as it has profound and important implications for anyone who's in a leadership position in work or life.
And I'll argue that all of us are in leadership positions in life and work.
Over 2 1/2 days at the 4th annual Neuroleadership Summit in Los Angeles, giants in the field of Neuroscience and in Leadership shared ideas on how to impact a leader's thinking and performance.
To give a sense of the ethos, Warren Bennis (Google his name and you'll get roughly 200,000 hits), the recognised head of the global leadership movement, a man who's advised presidents, CEO's such as Jack Welch, written 30 books on leadership, ex-Harvard Professor, who's life's work is all about leadership, started his keynote presentation by saying "I know little about leadership. It is a conversation that is long and important."
Humility and grace.
I learned how a floor sweeper can spark a new era of cooperation by one courageous remark during a company initiative - "I feel invisible, no one sees me" - opening a floodgate of similar sentiments from all ranks within the organisation.
Who in your company might say the same thing?
Warren relayed a story about US President Roosevelt's funeral where a man fell to his knees sobbing in grief. As he straightened up, a man next to him inquired whether he knew the president personally. "No," he replied, "but he KNEW me."
Through his "fireside chat" radio talks, Roosevelt had the power to communicate to all the people such that they experienced being known. They experienced how much he cared for and respected them. They were empowered and appreciated.
A recent Gallup study "Feeling Good Matters in the Workplace", found that supervisors play a crucial role worker's engagement. In "The Cost Of Bad Behavior" Christine Pearson and Christine Porath, report that incivility in the workplace leads to an increase in job stress costing US corporations $300 Billion a year.
This doesn't even begin to cover to costs of workers who are actively disengaged, leading to decreased productivity and innovation, and sometimes active sabotage.
It's not just warm and fuzzy stuff. This really matters.
What would be the potential of an organisation if leaders focused on ensuring people felt known, important, appreciated and respected?
What would be the impact on your bottom line? What would meetings be like if they opened up with a note of thanks to everyone for being there, and an invitation to share their views?
We spend more time at work then we do any other single activity in our lives. Business is the engine room of society and this past year's events have shown us what happens when that engine breaks down.
My call to action to you all, whether you lead from the front, middle or rear - take heart and take heed. Take a moment now and commit to what you can do to express respect and gratitude to all the people around you in and out of work.
What will you do to ensure they are appreciated and empowered?
What will be the quality of your work and the impact on your life if you spent your days focused on the positives of the people around you, giving them respect and appreciation?
If you think you already do, how can you take it a step higher? Does EVERYONE in your organisation do the same?
After two days of that culture at the summit, I can assure you that brilliance was sparked. People will create books, methodologies, initiatives that will affect real and positive change to the global engine that is business.
The conversation of leadership is long and important and my call to you is to join it from wherever you are in whatever capacity you lead.