Update: Added link to founder of the Summit’s website.
According to a video posted by Barry Posner, Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University, for the Leadership Summit, everyone is a contributor whether they know or not. Video available at: Leadership and Influence Summit, hosted by Daniel Decker. Keeping that in mind, I embarked on a brief thought experiment.
I spent a few days thinking about the one thing I brought to the table at work. I realized that it is neither my communication ability nor job motivation or interpersonal skills. It was Urgency. I call this the STOP – Supreme Trait Of Performance. On a Value/Performance chart, this trait is in the first quadrant.
For me, making a decision now or getting things done immediately outranks ever other task. My Urgency STOP has enabled me to become comfortable with ambiguity and to multi-task. If there was a top 10 list of people with a sense of Urgency, then I would numero uno.
This led me to consider the STOP for the individuals on my team. I wanted to identify the one Trait that each brought to the table. That same Trait powered their reason for professional existence as well performance. Some STOPs that emerged were Detection, Clarity and Repetition.
Detection: a detail oriented individual that covers every base imaginable while processing a transaction.
Clarity: a non-communicative person that works out solutions internally and understands the end goal well.
Repetition: a task oriented person that bangs away at a problem through sheer amount of work.
You may recognize these STOPs as either your own or as in someone you know at work. I realized that if you took everything else away from them, then they would still bring that Trait to work. It is part of their personality. I am quick to jump to conclusions or decisions, which may not always be a good idea. My Urgency STOP rules my head and heart, and if you took everything else I know or my other traits, then I will still continue to retain this one.
Communicating with people of different STOPs is complicated. When someone gives me a task, I am already executing on it in my mind and cannot wait to get to it. A Clarity STOP person may not know how to solve the problem right away, but they would be very clear about the end goal but just won’t tell you that.
As I continue building this construct, I would love to hear from your individual experience as you experiment with it.
I’d rather be ordinary than extra-ordinary!!
The Internet was alive with commentary from journalists, political leaders and ordinary people.
The second one actually landed me a really good friend, who first came prospecting as a customer.
These are plugs that I chased after and got. Funny how I sound really smart.
Quotes I’ve made there sound impressive. Heck, I would buy from me. No?
Time has a great article on the subject of finding out which is better – being laid off or being employed living in fear of being laid off. Here is an interesting quote:
It’s better to get the bad news and start doing something about it, rather than languishing in limbo.
The quote refers to patients waiting for their biopsy results feeling more stress at that time, rather than when they get the results, even if it meant they had cancer. Once they got the news, they could then take the necessary action either way.
Shame on companies that do not communicate enough, as I know from personal experience, to quench employee’s thirst to know more about the life of the business, about their own jobs, when the economy is in the crapper. I do not think you can over-communicate the issues. It does not mean having daily 9am meetings to talk about the “economy”, and “how it affects us”, but being open about sharing details about the business, I think, helps.
Most employees are not going to feel the same about the business as the founders or senior-level managers do. You need to communicate at their interest level. Telling them things are going to fine when you are firing others is the surest way to increase their stress.
While managers are spending time figuring out how to keep their own jobs and those of their employees, I believe the one thing that will calm everyone’s worries and put them in the frame of mind as that of the patients who got their biopsy results (even if it meant cancer) is to talk with each other openly as two equal human beings. A lot of us get caught up in the titles and pompousness of a “senior level position” or believe that “I am the owner of the business or the manager of this division and I know more”. Sorry, you do not. You are the same as I am. You may have more money than I do, but we both have the same amount of time in a day. That is what equals us.
I think once business owners intrinsicly feel this type of equality, then the communication lines will open up. That is the way I believe that these stress levels will go down.
I speak from experience.
I am way more relaxed now, by the way.
People say “Change is the only thing that is constant”. That is meaningless as it states the obvious. It shows that stuff you know and take for granted today, will change in the future. The marketplace will change for the better or worse. Your marital life may change as well.
But what do you do, now that you have this knowledge. How do you translate that into actions and those into results you want?
Status quo is unacceptable.
If change is inevitable, then why not energize it yourself? Flip the switch on things you’ve been doing the same way for a long time. Take a hard look at your sales process month by month. Remove what does not work.
The story posted on popular Indian website Chennai Online is about an Indian family that was successfully assisted by Obama when he was a senator. If only Obama took notice of the travesty that is the US immigration system, then legal immigrants from every country will rejoice! If only Obama recalled his immigrant past (he ancestry is immigrant versus slavery) and took a hard look at what critics of the broken immigration system have been saying for years about the process of becoming a permanent resident or a citizen.
This is neither a racial nor “American competitiveness” issue, but is rather an issue of strengthening the “patchwork” of America. While you can argue till you are blue in the face about if legal immigrants taking jobs away from Americans or not, the fact is, in the words of Mr. Obama, “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness”. If his words are true, then this heritage will remain strong for future generations if America continues to introduce diversity in it’s populace.
Do you think he will listen?
Quote from WhiteHouse.gov
“The time to fix our broken immigration system is now… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should.”
— Barack Obama, Statement on U.S. Senate Floor
May 23, 2007
A big thank to you to my friend Rajesh Setty for his post on quotes from Steve Jobs.
The 3 quotes that really stood for me and made my day better were:
# The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
# …Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart
# I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
If you, like me, felt like you either have thought of these things or have said it before, then you will agree with me when I say that the difference between him and us is that he believed it. Not only that, he believed it and internalized it in his thoughts and actions.
This is truly an inspirational story not because of the ultimate success in business but because the protagonist Bob Williamson was a former druggie and homeless man. He was like one of those guys you see on busy intersections today, juggling tennis balls or selling the local newspaper.
Bob is a man after my own heart because he is in the business of providing software to school cafeterias, among other such large institutions. I’m deeply interested in this space because if you’ve been to a school lunch room or University cafeteria, you’ll be amazed at the sheer amount of food. While I don’t have any hard facts on hand, I am sure that almost 75-80% of the food goes wasted. When looked at nationally, there are over 5000 universities in the US and far more number of schools. The waste is endless.
I’ve always believed that solutions to these socio-economic problems must be capitalistic in nature. Of course, a non-profit model also works, but we all know the clear difference between the two. People sit up and listen when there is money to be made in solving a problem. Also, it would be in a food service company’s best interest to better estimate food demand and reduce waste in order to boost profits. While I am sure the Sodexho’s of the world are already doing that, I will also tell you that they’re not doing a good job. And therein lies the opportunity.
A recent show about freeganism got me thinking about developing a for-profit business plan that will move wasted food out of the hands of grocery chains, bakeries and cafeterias and into the hands of the homeless and needy and quite simply, people who want to buy food at cheaper prices. I am also happy to discuss if you want to sound off on your own ideas about how a money-making idea can make it easier to take good wasted food and move it into the hands of hungry people.
Just in case you doubted my empathy approach, here is someone you probably know (and trust) who apparently agrees with me.
Not all of us are writers. Some of us can’t even construct a sentence in order. Then there is the question of battling with the WordPress or Typepad dashboards in order to get your blog up. True, it is easier than before (after all, blogs are a combination of a hosting company, that provides you a template for a website that you can update, right?). But it primarily sucks because of a little thing known as “writers bloc”. Heck, I face it on a regular basis. Then life gets in the way. Time flies and before you know it, a month has gone by without any posts.
There are plenty of stats out there about the number of new blogs, the frequency of posting and the frequency with which blogs die. And most of us are not writers. If you ask any author, newspaper writer or poet, I think their response to why blogging sucks would be that sitting down and penning thoughts on paper takes more energy than rock climbing (metaphorically speaking). It ain’t easy. It is much easier to read and even that is not a major pastime in America.
My “blog buddy” Pete Caputa writes that he “found success by splitting my ‘blogging’ time into 3 activities: 1) 1/3rd reading other people’s blogs, 1/3 commenting on other’s blogs and 1/3rd writing”. I definitely agree with him because it these are the building blocks of developing your thoughts in a cohesive manner, keeping track of things that are important to you and penning your thoughts in an educated manner.
But again, blogging sucks because you have to sit down and write. If only you could discuss your thoughts with your “personal writer” and have him/her write for you!