Leaders need interpersonal and relationship building skills for communicating more effectively and constructively. As a leader, regularly ask yourself:
- What can I do to get people more engaged?
- What can I do to get people working collaboratively?
- What do others need from me?
- What do they have to contribute that I haven’t been noticing?
- What value am I adding to the team?
Daily complete this sentence, just for today, I will…
One of our senior leaders retired after 39 years of federal service. Here are some of her parting reminders:
- Everyone is a leader, treat them accordingly.
- Hunger for wisdom, always.
- Assume good intentions, always.
- Act with courage, always.
- Do the right thing, always.
- Think about your employees when making decisions.
- Have fun, and remember the words of George Carlin –At the end of my life, my only regret is I wasn’t kinder to people.
Recently some friends were kind enough to hold a panel discussion at my workplace (via electronic means) for women leaders in our agency. I removed all the agency specifics, but I thought you may enjoy these bits and pieces:
- Be your own advocate.
- Be proactive whenever you can.
- Decisions have to make sense for all.
- Don’t let the culture change you, you change your culture.
- Focus on self-issues first so you have the energy to assist others.
- Supervisors are held to a higher level, act like it.
- Rely on your support systems and relationships.
- Identify who or what is causing the frustration.
- Why is this important to you?
- Take advantage of any work professional development dollars available.
Each one of these snippets can be great conversation starters. Do any of them speak to you?
Question Thinking (QT) is out ability to be in charge of our own thinking, moment by moment. How do I fix it? takes you from being powerless to confident enough to take constructive action.
Three important questions:
- Are you willing to take responsibility for your mistakes and for the attitudes and actions that led to them?
- Are you willing to forgive yourself and laugh at yourself?
- Will you look for value in your experience, especially the most difficult ones?
Question Thinking is a system of skills and tools using questions to expand how you approach virtually any situation.
- Question everything.
- How can you get the best answers without asking the best questions first?
- Questions drive results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein
Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams
There is lots of information out there on being a coach instead of a boss. However, there are times when you need to be the boss. When to be a coach and when to be a boss is thoughtfully covered in a November 15, 2016 article by Brenda Smyth, 4 Key Ingredients to Managing like a Coach. P please enjoy these quick notes from the article on supervision.
Good coaches are
- Passionate about their subject
- Clear when to communicate without talking too much
- Successful; employees trust the coach and know the coach has a plan
- Enthusiastic; makes employees want to be part of ‘doing great things’
- Empowering employees by building their confidence AND competence; they don’t check and monitor, but the concentrate on employees reaching a higher level of performance
- Knowledgeable when to turn into good bosses
Good bosses use the directive style (telling people what to do) when dealing with
- New or experienced employees
- Tight deadlines
- Dealing with problem employees
- Running a meeting
Good bosses want to be careful of over-managing because
- Employees don’t learn to think for themselves
- Employees become disengaged because they believe they are not being heard
- Provide direction by clearly defining the goals
- Improve performance by creating a learning environment where employees are supported to continuously improve
- Open up possibilities to develop employees to solve problems and make decisions
- Help remove obstacles by staying close to projects by asking questions and confronting people who become obstacles to their employees
“How do you learn what you should do? You were not born to this yet you know when you should listen, and when you should command, how to make sure that they understand you, how to make sure that they do as they are told. I didn’t know a woman could do this?”
“A woman can rule, but she has to do it with the guidance of God and using all her sense and wisdom. It is not enough for a woman to want power, or to seek power for its own sake. She has to take the responsibility that comes with it. She has to prepare herself for power and judge wisely. She must think and care about what she does.”
The above conversation could have been held today. However, the quote is from a book based on the 1540s relationship between King Henry VIII’s and his sixth wife. As they say, there is nothing new under the sun. What do you think about this timeless advice?
Cite: The Taming of the Queen by Philipa Gregory
From Wikipedia: Catherine Parr (alternatively spelled Katherine or Kateryn, signed ‘Kateryn the Quene KP’) (1512 – 5 September 1548) wasQueen of England and of Ireland (1543–47) as the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII, and the final queen consort of the House of Tudor. She married him on 12 July 1543, and outlived him by one year. She was also the most-married English queen, with four husbands. Catherine enjoyed a close relationship with Henry’s three children and was personally involved in the education of Elizabeth and Edward, both of whom became English monarchs. She was influential in Henry’s passing of the Third Succession Act in 1542 that restored both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to the line of succession to the throne.
Catherine was appointed Regent from July to September 1544 while Henry was on a military campaign in France and in case he lost his life, she was to rule as regent until Edward came of age. However he did not give her any function in government in his will. In 1543, she published her first book, Psalms or Prayers, anonymously. On account of Catherine’s Protestant sympathies, she provoked the enmity of anti-Protestant officials, who sought to turn the King against her; a warrant for her arrest was drawn up in 1545. However, she and the King soon reconciled. Her book Prayers or Meditations became the first book published by an English queen under her own name. She assumed the role of Elizabeth’s guardian following the King’s death, and published a second book,The Lamentations of a Sinner.
“Mankind are very odd creatures. One half censure what they practice, the other half practices what they censure; the rest always say and do as they ought.” – Benjamin Franklin.
Ethics is defined by John Steinbeck via one of his characters who had to choose how to rule: When he begins to rule, he immediately faces questions of good versus bad, having to pick among the best of the bad choices, and having to compromise on what he wants to do or what he feels it right. He asks a trusted advisor, “What is a person to do?” His advisor replies that one usually does what one is.”
As a public servant, you will be tested. You will have to carry out orders that you believe to be wrong or unfair, and you will be asked to compromise your own integrity in order to further your career. How you handle these situations as a subordinate will shape the kind of leader you will become.
What leaders sow, they will harvest. How each government employee acts is essential to the outcome of the American government as a whole.
Every once in a while we will face a crisis that will test our deepest convictions about the system of our government. It will be easier for leaders to face this crisis if they have worked out their own ethical standards ahead of the time crisis.
Quoting Maslow the author discusses how there is in intrinsic conscience in our core that serves as a court of appeals for good and bad. There will always be a feeling of uncomfortableness that should be recognized as an alarm. Each time we conduct an act against our inner core, it is recorded in our unconsciousness and we begin to despise ourselves.
Cite: Ashworth, Kenneth (2001) CAUGHT BETWEEN THE DOG AND THE FIREPLUG: or How to Survive Public Service, Washington, DC, Georgetown University Press