October 1, 2009
Shortly after I stepped into my leadership role at the American Red Cross, a member of my marketing group chose not to be part of the new team.
Her departure gave me the opportunity to recruit someone new, so I spent considerable time thinking about how to forge a strong partnership between 1) the individuals I inherited and 2) those I would select myself.
In consultation with team members that remained, I developed this list of 10 characteristics to describe the commitment, the loyalty and the engagement of every contributing member of my marketing group:
- We are inspired by the mission of the marketing department, knowing that our special group exists to ensure the success of the American Red Cross.
- As we visualize the role of marketing within the organization, we are proud to be a part of an exceptional consulting team working on projects that really matter.
- We value diversity within our team, knowing that each of us makes a unique contribution to the department, to the organization and ultimately to the community.
- We build synergy whereby the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In so doing, we recognize the interdependence of every member of the team.
- When one of us succeeds, that person appreciates and acknowledges the contributions of teammates, knowing that success is often a team effort.
- We celebrate when another member of the team excels. After all, we know that one teammate’s success reflects positively on our entire group.
- When something goes wrong, we avoid pointing fingers and assigning blame. Instead, we join hands with others to seek solutions and to look for the learning embedded within the situation.
- We assume positive intentions on the part of others. In circumstances where there is a potential for misunderstanding, we proactively seek clarification.
- We are loyal to other members of the team, especially in their absence. We focus on the positive, affirming attributes of our co-workers and teammates.
- We always operate from an abundance mentality that seeks win-win solutions. We refuse to believe that our win implies a loss for someone else, knowing that a scarcity mentality spawns fear, competitiveness and retaliation.
September 29, 2009
When I was chosen to lead the marketing program at the American Red Cross of Greater Kansas City, I wanted to make sure each person on the team was pulling in the same direction.
Within my first 90 days, I led my group through a two-day planning session to 1) discuss organizational priorities, 2) plan marketing projects and 3) enlist the commitment of each individual to the team effort. By the end of the retreat we had defined the following 10 characteristics that every contributing member of the marketing department should be able use in describing his or her dedication, passion and internal beliefs:
- I see the big picture.
- I see how the individual pieces fit together, and I understand the importance of my unique role.
- I prioritize my work and spend considerable time working in Quadrant II on projects that are important but not urgent. Because of this, I am proactive and in control of my job, my career and my life.
- I think strategically before acting tactically.
- As an internal marketing consultant, I ask affirming, empowering questions of myself and others.
- I approach consulting projects in a collaborative manner, finding ways to say “yes” and facilitate the success of others.
- I own and manage important projects where I assume responsibility for the entire planning, production and evaluation of my projects.
- I am a collaborative team player, contributing my energy and expertise to those projects managed by others.
- I have a deep desire to learn, to create and to explore. Knowing that the status quo often leads to obsolescence, I seek innovation and welcome change.
- I make a difference. I do work that really matters.
September 3, 2009
Everyone approaches a job search differently. Several years ago when I lost my job as a marketing professional, I looked at my career transition as a marketing opportunity.
I had watched others in similar circumstances as they obsessed on finding the right answers. I took the opposite approach. Rather than seeking answers, I began by asking myself a series of questions, recalling the wise words of James Thurber who once said, “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”
Only after developing what I felt were the right questions did I begin wrestling with the answers. The questions were incredibly easy to ask but excruciatingly difficult to answer. To my amazement, however, this turned into a most insightful and even invigorating process. I’ll share with you the questions, but first let me explain my process.
For a couple hours each day, I went to a local coffee shop and found a secluded table where I could engage myself in a private conversation. I left my laptop at home because I wanted to drill deeper. I used an old-fashioned method of communicating—handwriting on blank sheets of paper. I purchased a leather-bound book containing only blank pages and on the first page I wrote the title: Journal for the Journey—A personal assessment, a scrapbook of ideas, and a map for navigating an important career transition.
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August 19, 2009
Helen Keller was right when she said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” It seems like everyone talks about the importance of vision, but very few people have a vivid image of what they hope their future will look like.
Following are 10 things I’ve observed during more than 20 years of work experience:
- Where there is no vision, people perish.
- In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
- Tactics not tied to strategy are nothing more than busywork.
- When you and I are not pursuing the same goal, then we’re not on the same team.
- When you and I focus on the same goal from different vantage points, we have stereoscopic vision that gives us better depth perception.
- The effectiveness of a vision statement can be measured in its ability to inspire people to rally around a shared picture of what can be—and must be—their new reality.
- A compelling vision is future-focused and usually threatens those deeply vested in the status quo.
- Progress always requires change, but not all change is progress.
- Every project can be improved by periodically asking, “Why are we doing this?”
- As Stephen Covey says, it is essential to “begin with the end in mind.”
What would you add? Have you been inspired by someone who had an exceptional vision for the future? What did you learn from that person? How did he or she inspire you?