Less than 7% of the Eastern Screech Owls in the United States live in Kansas. Discovering a rather unusual visitor requires dedicated observation on our part and support from friends who watch for his arrival. But his regular return requires the right resources (temperature, hollow tree, water and food, etc.) and trust as people walk past his home and take his picture.
I recently wrote about building a better boss. One of the resulting questions that has prompted an ongoing conversation between Jon and I is, “Where can our organization start building?”
Organizational environments are as complex as natural ones that support the life of this owl – someone would argue more complex because they include people. Yet we return each day to our work and the opportunity to start anew.
The place to start is always with yourself. Here are some questions that I ask our coaching clients that will jumpstart your thinking:
- Have you identified your personal values and vision?
- How do these fit with the values and vision of your organization? Of your team or work group? (Note: organization and team values might be somewhat different!)
- Do you trust others in your organization and do they trust you?
- What are the top three things that you want to focus on for learning and growth in the next six months?
Starting with leading and managing yourself lays a foundation for successfully leading and managing others. In an age of immersive connections, the first question is, “Are you connected to yourself?”
A few days ago, we were on a walk along the Sand Creek Trail and took a byway that we hadn’t explored. We encountered an old barn with doors that had been closed long ago. Leaves new and old drifted against the bottom. If there had even been a handle, its location had long been covered over ….
I’ve been considering that door with no handle as one year ends and another begins. What are the things that are behind doors that need to be opened up and aired out? What are the things that need to be given away, torn down, or permanently closed? What doors do we want to open, walk through, and explore on the adventure that is Friesen Group?
Part of the power of a blog is that ideas can be shared in short snips. While the questions listed here are big questions, I invite you to join me in taking short snips of time in the next few days. Use the time snips to provoke your thinking, to make meaning and insight, to remember – as we enter into 2011.
I was recently working with an organization to identify their values. Some would say that values are yesterday’s news, a 1990’s activity for an organization to do. Others would argue that listing values becomes another exercise that gets posted on the break room wall and ignored. I would argue that remembering values is something that should be done daily: we, as individuals and organizations, must intentionally choose to act from our values.
When we interact with each other, with those who purchase our services, with our friends and families, when we make decisions, when we innovate and create new opportunities, the question is: Does that fit with one or more of our values? Or not …?
I challenge all of us not to confuse values with priorities or with our core business philosophy. Values don’t change easily. My values include trust, honesty, integrity, kindness, and positive action. I seek to act based on those values. Values provide an underlying framework, supporting the systems that make up our more visible maps of the world or mental models.
To spend time identifying and make values visible, is to choose to act consciously. It is to choose to turn off the autopilot and check our systems, decisions, and actions to make certain we are acting in concert on our journey.
Here’s a short exercise to try: After your next meeting, spend five minutes considering which of your values you saw on display? Which values of your organization did you see represented? Try the exercise after your next decision or your next conversation. Are the values the ones you expected to see?
Two evenings ago I was enjoying an evening of conversation with friends when one courageously asked, “What really matters?” I ask myself this question every day, but usually only to myself. So, I appreciated the opportunity to reflect with friends. The overall theme that I took away from the conversation was that what matters is that we act from our core values, which for me include truthfulness, compassion, grace, abundance, and collaboration.
If you’re asking yourself the same question, check out Seth Godin’s compilation of thoughts from more than 70 thinkers. As Godin says, “Now, more than ever, we need a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around.”