Respectfully and Safely Yours

Respect

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Key Point: Personal safety and the feeling that accompanies it is a freedom that we need to fiercely protect whether at work or anywhere.

I remember the first time I was in Tokyo in 1989. I was returning to the hotel after being out for the evening and it was well past midnight. What struck me (there were a string of news stories of women being assaulted in large North American cities at the time) was seeing Japanese women walking home alone, very late at night, and obviously feeling very comfortable. My understanding is that it’s still that way in Japan.

In 2001, I had an opportunity to travel to Israel and it surprised me how much Israelis had become accustomed to massive increased security; no bulky outerwear allowed in the nightclubs, razor wire around the beaches of the resort we stayed at, bomb checking under every car with long mirrors, etc.

The other day I was at a downtown theater in Seattle seeing a family movie. The pre-movie announcement encouraged attendees to: (I’m paraphrasing) silence your phones, refrain from texting, do not disrupt other movie goers with loud talking, and look for the emergency exit to escape… Hmm. And of course, there is the horrendous airport security we have unfortunately come to accept.

I went to a conference last year with about 1,000 people in attendance, and one keynote speaker used the F-word 27 times in his speech (my seatmate counted). Interestingly, he was from the media firm, VICE (now being criticized for its alleged toxic, harassment oriented culture). When I go to my fitness club, the locker room is filled with men mostly in their 30s/40s, using the F-word as a hyphen. It sounds ridiculous. Why talk like that? Hey, I may sound prudish, and people who know me know I use the F-word from time to time. That doesn’t mean it’s right.

I don’t want to come across as self-righteous or preachy. However, I wonder how might we live in a society where:

  1. Anyone can walk anywhere alone and feel totally safe.
  2. We can attend any event and enjoy the experience without looking over our shoulders.
  3. We think before we say and do, first about the well-being of others we impact instead of it being about “me first.”
  4. We invest in treating mental illness with the same vigor as we do physical ailments.

By now you may be scoffing at my naivety. Ok, I accept that, but I still ask “why not?” Why not make this way of thinking and living as something we aspire to, versus the self defeating acceptance that we need to invest in more personal security?  Buy more cameras, more guns, more physical and psychological armor? Why not start a personal safety movement? One of us at a time.

Personal Character Moves:

  1. For those of us fortunate enough to be in formal leadership positions, we can create totally safe and very results-oriented environments. Let’s commit to this.
  2. For all of us, how about being more respectfully present to those around us and take care of the little things? Hold the doors open for those behind us, choose our words wisely, see and really notice others, and listen with inclusive care.
  3. Attack problems, issues, process and behaviours; never each other.
  4. Apologize when we hurt others, which we know in our imperfect way, that we will surely do.

Respectfully committed to a safer New Year,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Couth and courtesy should absolutely be on the forefront of our minds in professional and personal life, and I imagine for our readers, it mostly is. Otherwise you probably wouldn’t care about the values of the “Character Triangle.” I don’t think this is preaching to you. But as Millennials, we can only control our own behavior, and we cannot expect a “perfect” world where locker rooms don’t have F-bombs, and airports don’t sometimes have real bombs. That ain’t gonna happen. As a staunch supporter of the first amendment, I don’t want a world where loudmouths can’t say whatever they please (of course, there could be social consequences). Still, we can do our personal best to practice better values, and hopefully the freedom to do so will be more influential and attractive to others than the equal freedom to act like a jerk.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The ‘Other’ Angle in Our Daily Life?

Respect

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Key Point: The other day, a thought leader I respect suggested that the first order of enlightened leaders is to continuously help others progress/succeed. It got me thinking about how much organizations and the work lives of people would change for the better if we ALL came to work focused on how we might help “others” succeed everyday. This does not mean that we would avoid our own objectives, accountability or obligations. However, what if the lens we looked through was primarily aimed at helping others succeed while we advanced our own causes?

Let’s walk through the mundaneness of a “normal” day to consider how many of us might work through the premise of doing everything we could to achieve this.

  1. Inbound emails/texts: With every email/text we received, what if we asked ourselves what we thought the other person really was asking for and did everything we could to advance their cause by our response? Even if the email was the dreaded sales “spam,” we would understand that there was a real live salesperson with targets at the other end and would respond with the thought process of “how might I help this person,” including perhaps directly saying “no” so they might not waste their time with you in the future. A delete or non-response would be unacceptable.
  2. Outbound emails/texts: What if when crafting an email we questioned “how might this advance and help the receiver to be more successful?” Even if we had to say “no” or disagree with someone, we asked how might we help them find a way towards future success.
  3. Meetings: What if at every meeting our ambition was to help make sure every person in the meeting was listened to and understood. And we did everything we could to make others feel that they successfully contributed to the meeting.
  4. Interactions: On every personal interaction through the day we sincerely challenged ourselves to help the other person succeed in some way or another. (This doesn’t mean we have to pander, be a pushover, or be naive).

I am a deep believer in the following formula to move relationships forward: Personally Connect, Really Understand what the other wants, THEN determine the Right Action to Take. The “AND” to this equation is to ALWAYS find a way to help the person succeed and move forward. Of course, this does not apply when the other person’s intent is harmful. Thank goodness that perspective is rare.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Challenge yourself to help every OTHER person be successful or move forward through every action, every day. Even if we do not feel like donating to the homeless person with the cardboard sign on the corner, we can smile and “see them.”
  2. If you think this is mush headed goofiness, challenge yourself between now and the end of December to better work and live this way. Will you notice any difference in others? In yourself?

Applying the “other” angle in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s no denying the month of December has many people inherently thinking in more of a “giving” way. Whether it’s due to the holiday season,  colder climates, or food-oriented occasions, everyone’s just tuned into the idea of helping others “succeed.” Of course, this fades out as quickly as most New Year’s resolutions, but considering our co-workers are a constant that don’t fade away after Jan. 1, this is an attainable goal with reminders at every cubicle.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Wake Up: Inclusiveness is a MUST

Respect

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Key Point: We still have plenty of leaders that think of “inclusiveness” as “politically correct,” and mushy headed, phoney bologna. I recently participated in a panel discussion involving top execs and executive MBAs. The execs were primary C suite folks and (not surprisingly), mostly older white males.

On the panel, I firmly stated my belief that leaders could not afford to brush off the importance of intentional inclusiveness. In order to have adaptive cultures, we need massive cognitive diversity and psychologically safe, inclusive environments. At the dinner table after the panel discussion, a senior exec who listened to our panel discussion suggested that I was “patronizing” and that he “was very inclusive.” He emphasized though, competence trumped all other considerations and some pools (like engineering/technology) limited inclusive possibilities… Hmm… So, I checked out some research to help us explore the question of how objective and self-aware leaders stand on the matter of inclusivity.  

The consulting firm Zenger/Folkman (as published in the Harvard Business Review), analyzed one large organization with an excellent track record of hiring and promoting diverse candidates, with a reputation for inclusion. Zenger administered 360-degree feedback assessments for roughly 4,000 leaders, and the company agreed to let them use that data for this analysis. A summary of the findings as noted in the HBR article:

“1. Leaders are not good judges of their own effectiveness on valuing diversity; and those leaders who are poorest fail to see the problem, while those who are the best don’t realize their skill and effectiveness…

2. Leaders who were rated very poorly on valuing diversity and inclusion were rated in only the 15th percentile for their overall leadership effectiveness, while those who were rated in the top 10 percent of those two items were rated in the 79th percentile…

Valuing diversity is an attitude and mindset. Practicing inclusion involves a set of behaviors that can be developed in leaders. Our research has shown that self-perceptions in this arena are not highly accurate. While it could be argued that individual leaders may best know what’s in their hearts, others are in a far better position to objectively evaluate whether and how they practice inclusion in their day-to-day work.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Put the tired, old-school arguments about diversity and inclusion negatively competing with competence to rest for good. Value identity and cognitive diversity as a necessary investment in cultural adaptability and innovation.
  2. Do not accept the B.S. that leaders can accurately self-assess how much they really value diversity/inclusion. Others need to help us see our blind spots on this topic.
  3. Intentionally work on understanding what it means to be inclusive. Invest in very credible assessment tools to really find out where you stand on the diversity/inclusion continuum.

Inclusively Competent in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: As a Millennial, there has always been a huge amount of inclusiveness and diversity in the places I’ve worked. I’m thrilled to say that from my experience, our main concern and priority was getting the job done, and all anyone cared about was performance quality. So, perhaps that’s a good indication we’re already moving forward.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Unintended Stupidity of ‘Empowerment’

Respect

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Key Point: Well intended leaders may have unwittingly confused the heck out of many employees, and degraded customer experience with so called “empowerment.” Huh? Let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s say you want a certain standard of behavior in providing your customers a “WOW” experience. So, after eating all the leadership development “candy,” you decide to “EMPOWER” your team members to use their good judgment and just “WOW” the customer. Sounds good in theory. After all, you want to be a Level 5 service leader (or whatever). Ironically, what you will likely get is a “dog’s breakfast” of behavior from good intentions all around. Let me give you some mundane examples:

As the big boss, you want a “WOW” greeting for every customer that enters your retail stores. Your empowered guidance to store managers is; “use your head and give a great greeting.” At one store, every customer is met with eye contact and a warm welcome when they enter. Individuals make a personal connection. At another store, they do the same AND have a small, fun greeting gift for each customer. At the next store, staff interprets greeting differently because the empowered store manager believes customers should be left alone and not badgered. Etc etc. Empowerment results in mixed, varied experiences by well meaning, “engaged” employees, committed to the customer service ethos and a great customer experience. To make matters possibly worse, a customer complains about being ignored at the store where there is no greeting. So what does the top brass default to? The explanation is that the store manager doesn’t have the “DNA;” let’s replace the person with “someone who gets it.” It’s actually the top leadership that needs a shake.

Another example might be in a financial institution where expert credit adjudication scores allow for customers to receive loans or credit up to $x limit. Yet, when the data is reviewed, top leaders find out that time and again, well intended, highly engaged, “empowered” team members continuously turn down “approved” customer loans and/or underfund well below guidance. Why? Well one explanation is that empowered employees feel very protective of the institution and become very risk averse, even though experts and guidance tells them otherwise. Top leaders, while very well meaning and “evolved,” exhort loan officers and tell them they are fully empowered to make loan/credit decisions. But that “empowerment” results in consistently under performing loan portfolios and disappointed customers. Subsequently, with best intentions all around, everyone loses. The root cause is likely faulty thinking and guidance at the top.  

Leadership Moves:

  1. Leaders need to be absolutely clear and definitive on minimum acceptable experience/performance standards. There should be little if any discretion on the minimum. Inviting employees to be empowered is most effective when people are able to use judgment exceeding minimum thresholds. In that case variation can be (although not always) very constructive. In the situation above involving the financial institution, minimum loan limits ideally would be set by artificial intelligence, ever learning algorithms. NO discretion below the minimum would be allowed. It is more than ok to tell loan officers that they are NOT empowered to adjust down. Empowerment should be granted in other areas where judgment and human intervention upgrades rather than diminishes the customer experience.
  2. Be absolutely clear where you “empower” and provide meaningful autonomy. Do not burden your employees with “empowered” license when in reality you want something very specific. That’s when “empowerment” becomes an excuse for lazy leadership that has NOT done the hard work to be clear connecting purpose with very defined expectations. Do not hope empowered employees will deliver the experience you want when you primarily lead and give feedback on what you “don’t” want.

Right Empowerment in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This reminds me of the popular fast food franchise, Chick-fil-A, and something I’ve noticed as a patron at their restaurants. All employees are empowered to have a minimum requirement for politeness. You’ll hear “please” and “thank you” from employees, but most notably: Instead of saying “you’re welcome,” you’ll always hear a Chick-fil-A employee say “my pleasure.” It’s very subtle, but this extra courtesy absolutely stands out. And this simple (and free) customer service upgrade is why Business Insider and other publications have written articles about how the average annual sales per restaurant reach $4 million, compared to the $1 million average their competitor KFC brings in.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dinner of Truth

Books Respect Video

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Key Point: Becoming more self-aware is just plain hard. I’m reading Tasha Eurich’s great book “Insight”, which is a comprehensive tour on the subject. It’s an important read.

The painful truth is that we all have blind spots and yet most people around us are reluctant to share insights or feedback that might be perceived as undesirable. In the book, the author refers to a term coined by her researchers as the MUM effect; keeping Mum about Undesirable Messages. Findings confirm that when we’re in possession of information that might make someone uncomfortable, we tend to chose the path of least resistance and decide to say nothing. In fact, people are willing to tell white lies rather than the cold, hard truth. Of course, that avoidance does little to help you and me become more self-aware and positively grow.

Perhaps equally unfortunate is that many of us actually prefer the MUM “rule” being in effect. Why? Feedback can be and often is painful. When someone asks if we want feedback, our brain actually sends out physical pain signals. But avoiding feedback does little for us. The way people see us still exists whether we become aware of it or not. So, why not choose to learn the “truth” on our own terms?

You and I need loving critics. These are people who will be honest with us while having our best interests at heart. People like this are not necessarily someone we are closest to. However, there is a high level of mutual trust when this individual is willing to go out of their way to help us. This loving critic also needs to have sufficient exposure to behavior we want feedback on, and a picture of the impact of that behavior. They must be willing, based on a foundation of trust, to be totally honest.

How brave are you? If you have identified a loving critic, how about participating in a “Dinner of Truth?” Over a meal, ask your guest to tell you one thing that annoys them most about you. The rules include telling them why you’re asking, that nothing is off the table, and that you are NOT ALLOWED to respond defensively. You can only listen with an open mind and heart. How about a few Dinners of Truth?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you venture into the Dinner of Truth, it is helpful to mentally prepare for what might be said. Decide how deep you want to go, and remind yourself and loving the critic that this is about personal growth. Ask questions to clarify and better understand.
  2. Really really listen by applying Eurich’s “Three R Model:” Receive, Reflect and Respond” to the feedback. How you choose to respond and both learn and unlearn from feedback is an intentional practice. Read more about the “Three R Model” here. If you don’t do anything with the dinner feedback, you’ve wasted time with a very valuable ally.
  3. Recognize that being self-aware is understanding both who you are AND how others see you. That’s darn hard work, and we’re worth it.

Dinner of Truth in Personal Leadership

Lorne

P.S. Please click on and enjoy this video below of more Leadership Moves, and stay tuned for an upcoming embedded Lorne Rubis YouTube channel, and Instagram stories/Snapchat videos that will feature many more.

Watch: What If and How Might We

One Millennial View: It’s great to see “loving critics” can be embraced, and feedback be encouraged instead of censored. I’m so glad Eurich can define the MUM effect, develop the “Three R Model,” and how we can learn to incorporate a good meal with it. A “Dinner of Truth” might be tough to swallow, but it’ll only make us stronger and personally improve.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis