Often people will work and work, then see others being promoted over them. They ask themselves: what have they got that I haven’t? Their typical solution – obviously I have to work harder! As a result, they buy into a dangerous narrative in which work dominates at the expense of everything else in life. The paradox, of course, is that the leaders who made the decision about your promotion have probably picked up on that.
Are the stories being told within your organization today the kind of stories that clarify your desired culture? Storytelling is one of the most effective and impactful methods for communicating the desired culture of your organization to its members. For centuries, tribes of all kinds have utilized storytelling to support their desired culture. In man’s early history, those stories were told around the campfire each evening, with tribe members going to sleep with a clear image of preferred tribe behaviors, values, and norms in their minds.
Should you ever visit Australia, a trip to Australia’s island state of Tasmania is a must. On the Tasman Peninsula, near the township of Eaglehawk Nest, is a rare geological formation known as the ‘Tessellated Pavement’. This is a compressed rock formation that over millions of years has been eroded into what seems like tiles that have been laid by the sea. You can read more about this at Tasmania National Parks.
“I think the problem is that these millennials just don’t care,” Sara shared with us candidly in a moment of total frustration.
We both looked at each other and then at her, “Uh…you do realize YOU are a millennial, right?”
“Yeah, yeah,” she acknowledged, “but I’m a DIFFERENT kind of millennial.”
Of course she is, and so were the people who were frustrating her.
No matter what generation you’re in, we’d bet money you don’t feel like you fit the stereotype.
During a session with a culture change client, the organization’s president had an epiphany: “For 30 years I thought my job was to manage processes and results. This culture change journey has helped me redefine my job – to manage people’s energy.”
Imagine giving such a response to your boss when they offer you a promotion or to take the lead on a strategically significant project for your Government agency. Imagine saying “sure, I’ll get onto that as soon as I’ve had a vacation with my family!” Too often we fear that such a statement will lead to such a career changing offer going towards someone else. We fear that it sends the wrong message! Does it though? The simple answer is that it does not necessarily have to be sending a negative message and creative leaders most likely know this!
Cornell University professor Dr. Tony Simons’ powerful article, “The High Cost of Lost Trust,” appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 2002. In that piece, he described his team’s efforts to examine a specific hypothesis (“Employee commitment drives customer service”) in the US operations of a major hotel chain. They interviewed over 7,000 employees at nearly 80 properties and found that employee commitment drives customer service, but, most critically, a leader’s behavioral integrity drives that and more.
Over 30 years ago I had a conversation with a teenager that caught me completely off guard – and reminds me of a valuable principle to this day. While I have a very well-honed skill for catching people doing things wrong – if I want to be an effective leader, I need to catch people doing things right. I work on this every day, with clients, peers, and bosses – greatly because of the jumpstart this conversation gave me.
Choose to make the decisions that will take you to the end that you have in mind. That means being proactive, not reactive about life and what it might present to you. The wisdom of Winnie the Pooh in the 2018 movie Christopher Robin is useful on this point. Winnie The Pooh: I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.
The position of the kicker on a football team has always intrigued me. Here is a player that for most of the time is practically anonymous. Many of the rival fans and neutrals watching won’t even know his name. He runs on, unannounced and unnoticed, a few times in the game just to kick the ball between the posts, and then disappears again, whilst everybody is generally consumed with the much higher profile players and the more dramatic plays.