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#AmplifyYourVoiceI have no words. Perhaps a funny thing to say, coming from a writer. I have no words…I don’t know what to say. Even now I struggle to find the words.

Our nation, in the midst of perhaps the biggest crisis in the last 100 years, certainly in the last 50, has exploded. When news of George Floyd’s murder came across my television, just weeks after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I did what I always do. I showed my support, first by liking others’ posts on Facebook, then by sharing a post. I’ve done it for years…

The murderous attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris? Changed my profile picture to “Je suis Charlie” in support. 

The confrontation at Standing Rock that escalated into violence? Joined others who checked-in at Standing Rock to show support. 

I could list dozens of others. Doing my part to show support. But cautiously. Wouldn’t want to draw furor. Wouldn’t want to upset my “friends”. Afterall I have a business to run and many of those “friends” are my readers. 

Doing my part. Cautiously. Rarely, if ever, on LinkedIn. That’s for business. Can’t get personal, can’t get political, can’t take a stand. Would not want to alienate anyone, they might buy my books, they might hire me for a keynote, they might…

This time was no different. Until it wasn’t. 

I shared a “Black Lives Matter” gif on Facebook. A bit later a “friend” commented “All Lives Matter”. I did not know what to say in response. I use quotes around “friend” because I haven’t seen this person in 50 years and just recently reconnected on Facebook. I really didn’t know him. I was at a loss for words. On one level, yes, all lives matter. But that was not the point. The point is right now an entire race of people are hurting. Saying “all lives matter” diminishes their pain. I was frozen. 

And then, my son spoke up and commented on the post. A discussion of sorts started, then someone else chimed in. His tone was decidedly sharper. This back and forth went on for a couple of days…and I remained silent. 

Over the last week I have watched my son find his voice…on Facebook, and yes, on LinkedIn. I have seen countless others raise their voices. What I have seen, what I have heard, tells me there ARE words. I was just stuck waiting for the RIGHT words. 

As leaders, we have to lead…even when we don’t know the RIGHT words. 

To those of you who were like me…waiting. STOP. Add your voice to the conversation! 

To my friends of Color. I am sorry. I have no concept of what it is like to walk in your shoes. I know you are hurting. I know you are afraid. I know you are angry. I want to learn. I am committed to learning, so that I might lend my voice and my support to make this a world that recognizes all people have been created equal! 

I will speak by listening! I WILL find my voice. I WILL listen. 

 

Other resources to read:

Masking language and “keeping it professional”

Leadership Reflections on George Floyd and the Minneapolis Riots

I am one person. What can I do? 

TIME for Kids Age-Appropriate Resources

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” We don’t, but we can.

Women & Hi Tech’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in light of the Recent Events in Our City and Nation

Status Go #AmplifyYourLeadershipStatus Go – Episode 65

I’ve known Andy for a number of years and had countless conversations. This one was one of the best. In this episode we talk, not only of Andy’s first six weeks as CIO of a non-profit, but also, his decision to relocate from Indianapolis to Austin to take the position. As he states “where we grow the most is where we are uncomfortable”. 

During his recent job search, he reached out to over 200 CIOs and senior IT leaders. Of these, over ⅓ accepted his connection request. That is a great example of building a powerful professional network. 

Once he arrived in Austin, the work began. Take a listen to this episode. Andy will take you on his journey and share some of the lessons learned along the way! 

Status Go is the weekly podcast from InterVision. We provide actionable insights from technology leaders to technology leaders who want to break out of the status quo and lead their businesses into the new future. Listen to more of our episodes here: https://www.intervision.com/statusgo-podcasts/

WorkMinusHost Neil Miller and I go deep on why IT departments can no longer be known as the department of “No”.  Technology is now at the center of most businesses. In face, very few industries can survive without technology. IT leaders must be seeking ways to drive the business forward, create new revenue streams, interact with the customer…and the customer’s customer. IT is core to the future of work! Listen to the episode here!

WorkMinus is an organization founded on the future of work. The focus on six key workplace concepts for the future: Leadership, Productivity, Diversity & Inclusion, Workspaces, Technology and Culture.

Humans Now and ThenHost Rebecca Scott and I get real about the changing face of IT. What skills does the IT leader of today and tomorrow need to be successful and drive their businesses forward? The answer may surprise you…it has little to do with technology. Our businesses are demanding more of us in this digital age. While our focus was on the future, we also look to the past and talk about the importance of journal writing and a couple of guys named Lewis & Clark. Listen to our conversation here!

Humans, Now and Then explores how our rapidly changing world impacts our human experience, now and in the future. If you like the show, please share with others to help get them involved in the conversation about the future.

(In)visible LeadershipOur world has changed, seemingly overnight! If your LinkedIn newsfeed is anything like mine (and I am sure it is) it is full of posts and shares with advice. Advice for getting through the crisis that is still unfolding around us. Advice coming from all angles and perspectives. Advice delivered in many unique ways. 

Just this morning as I read through my feed: Advice on creating a safe place for employees in the form of a blog (thanks Doug), advice on storying telling in the form of a #BedTalk (thanks Alex), advice on being annoyingly optimistic also in the form of a #BedTalk (thanks Dimple), advice on being in a place of gratitude delivered as a #ParkTalk (thanks Brad), advice on dozens and dozens of ways to lead delivered as posts, free virtual meetings, virtual happy hours and webinars. To all those leaders who are sharing their words…THANK YOU! 

What do all these posts have in common? What is the Number One thing you can do as a leader in this time? 

Be Visible

What do their posts have in common? The people posting them are being visible. They are out there: sharing their thoughts, making us smile, giving advice. They are leaders. They are visible. 

What is the Number One thing you can do as a leader in this time? BE visible!

I love the story I was told yesterday about a CEO who is sending a weekly email to his entire organization. In it he is very transparent about the impacts to the business, he celebrates the wins, and he asks, genuinely asks, his employees how they are. He encourages them to reach out to him…and when they do…he responds. VISIBLE.

In similar fashion, a friend of mine is sending a weekly email to the entire company. In his email he talks about his own personal journey through the work-from-home mandates. Sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, always encouraging? Sound a lot like the first story? Here’s the thing. He is three or four levels removed from the CEO; he’s a “middle manager”. He’s VISIBLE.

Another, a CEO. She attends every team meeting she can each week. Dozens of them. Even if only for a moment. She is there. On video. Offering encouragement. Sharing herself. Dog barking in the background, kids videobombing, being real, being human. Being VISIBLE. 

The Challenge

My thought for you this week, my challenge for you is to be VISIBLE. Your teams, your company, your colleagues are looking for you. Your presence provides comfort. Your words provide hope. Your smile provides encouragement. BE visible. 

I would love to hear your examples. How are YOU being visible? How are the leaders in your organization being visible? Post in the comments; post on the social media platform of your choice (use #BeingVisible); send me an email. BE visible! 

#AmplifyYourLeadershipOn the eve of their first North American tour in four years, a tour projected to make 100s of millions in revenue for the band, the Stones abruptly announced they were postponing the tour. Within hours, Jagger himself (well, whoever manages his Facebook account) took to Facebook to apologize to fans: 

“I’m so sorry to all our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this.

I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone.”

Resiliency Like Jagger #AmplifyYourLeadership

 

It wasn’t long before rumors began to spread…it was health related…it was Jagger’s health…it was Jagger’s heart. Within days, the official announcement was given. Jagger, age 75, was to undergo a heart valve replacement. Fans around the world (and in Indianapolis) were on pins and needles waiting for word. Soon, a picture of Mick walking in the garden a few days post-op appeared. Then the rescheduling of the tour was announced. Finally a video of Mick rehearsing his Jagger moves…but still we wondered, on stage, in front of thousands, for hours on end, could he still move like Jagger? 

Finally, opening night. Soldier Field, Chicago. 61,000 of our closest friends. All with that question in our heads. I’ve got to think the band was asking the question, even Jagger himself. Jagger didn’t wait long, shortly into their first number, “Street Fighting Man”, he pranced the stage and the runway. You could almost see the sense of relief on the faces of the Stones. Charlie’s grin said it all: “He’s OK, we are OK.” 

“Resiliency Like Jagger” probably wouldn’t be a hit like “Moves Like Jagger” was for Maroon 5, yet there are some lessons we as leaders can take from the Rolling Stones front-man. 

Resilient: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Check! No better example of resiliency than a 75 year-old performing like a 30 year-old 2 ½ months post-op. As leaders, we must be resilient. Our teams are watching us. We have to lead through the successes and setbacks. How we react will serve as a model for our followers. It’s not about ignoring adversity and hoping it goes away. It is about acknowledging it and attacking it head on. 

Empathetic:  the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Check! Just re-read his post made shortly after the postponement. “I’m so sorry”…”hate letting you down”…”devastated”. He understood our feelings, he made us feel like he was sharing in those feelings. For a leader, empathy is a critical skill. Those around us want to know that we feel what they feel, that we understand the challenges they face, that we are in those challenges with them, side-by-side. 

Communicative: ready to talk or impart information. Check! Jagger and his team took us through the journey. The announcement, the apology, and the progress. They shared the why, they shared the plan, and they shared the results. The old adage “Communicate early and often” is truer today than ever before. It builds trust. It creates confidence. It develops understanding. Communication is not a one and done. Leaders who master the art of effective communication will be able to lead their followers through adversity. 

Committed: feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly dedicated. Check! The Stones could have cancelled the tour altogether. Jagger could have said I’m done. It’s not worth it. After all, they’ve been doing it for over 50 years. They certainly don’t need the money. They showed commitment and dedication to their craft, to their love of music and to us, their fans. Know a leader who gives up in the face of a challenge? They won’t be a leader long. Commitment to the vision, commitment to the mission, is vital for our followers. If we change plans every time the going gets tough, our teams will get frustrated and give up. 

There you have it. Your moves like Jagger! Resiliency, Empathy, Communication and Commitment. Let me ask you. Are you ready as a leader? Are you ready to bust your moves like Jagger? 

 

The hustle and bustle of business travelers grabbing the hotel breakfast before they headed out to this meeting or that meeting barely registered in my consciousness as I mentally prepared for my fourth talk in four days. After finishing my oatmeal, I googled Top Golf, the location of my talk later that morning, and checked the drive time…nine minutes. “Still plenty of time to rehearse a couple more times before heading out”, I thought to myself. 

After rehearsing in front of the hotel room mirror (timing myself with the clock app), I checked-out on my phone (I love technology!), and headed to the parking garage to jump in the rental car. Having spent some time in the area, I had driven past the Top Golf many times. Their giant nets jutting up into the sky are hard to miss. Being unfamiliar with the highway system and traffic patterns however, I pulled up my calendar app, opened the meeting invitation and clicked on the address of the event to navigate by GPS. Still about nine minutes drive time. I fired up the podcast I’d been listening to last night when I’d arrived and headed out.

Expecting to turn left at the first traffic light, I was a little confused when Google said to go straight at the intersection. Hmmm, must be routing me around some heavy traffic. I’d gotten into trouble before when I thought I knew better the Google. In a few minutes when it directed me to merge onto the interstate heading east, it seemed odd. I knew the Top Golf was west of the hotel…or I thought I knew. Surely, Google knew how to get me there, besides, it now said six minutes to destination. I kept driving. Maybe there is more than one Top Golf in the area?

The map showed my exit approaching. Exit right, turn left and go over the Interstate, turn left again on the frontage road and I’ll be at Top Golf. I glanced to my left, expecting to see the familiar netting stanchions, but only saw blue skies above an office building. More confused than ever, I dutifully followed the route guidance. A few minutes later, I arrived at my destination. Not only wasn’t it a Top Golf, it was a residential neighborhood. I pulled into one of the side streets and stopped. 

Now What?

I googled Top Golf and it said I was 14 minutes away. What is going on? At least now my technology was telling me to drive west, which made far more sense to me than heading east. Within a few minutes I passed my hotel and several minutes after that, I saw the familiar netting of my destination.

I’d been listening to a podcast about the various ways great speakers mentally prepare themselves on the way to deliver their message. Some want silence, some want a playlist, none listed getting lost by blindly following a GPS as a way to prepare. I was thankful, I had left plenty of time to navigate here from the hotel. The thought, “must have been a bug in the interface between the Calendar app and the Maps app that took me the wrong way”, crossed my mind as I walked into the venue.

Ironically, my talk that morning was to a group of Information Technology leaders and the theme was driving your value in this amazing time of technology evolution. As way of an example, one of the questions I ask is “how many of you used your GPS to come to the event today?” As I got to that part of my talk, I had to chuckle to myself about my morning.

That afternoon, still curious about what went wrong, I discovered the issue. The address on the meeting invitation was missing the first digit of the address. It was a mere coincidence that the error resulted in the exact same nine minutes of drive time, in the opposite direction. Somehow, the fact that it was human error made me feel better about blindly following directions that I knew in my gut to be wrong.

Later, as I drove home (heading east correctly this time), I had time to think. There had to be a lesson in this experience.  A lesson beyond, “Ton you are a dumbass for relying solely on technology and not your gut instinct!”

Leaders and Followers

Leaders need followers and followers need leaders. Sometimes leaders are followers and sometimes followers are leaders. As a follower, we have the responsibility to use our brains (and our guts). We don’t just follow blindly. Verify the facts. Reach our own conclusions. If our conclusion differs from that of the leader, respectfully ask why. It is our choice to follow. If the why rings true, or the consequences of not following outweigh the discord in our guts then follow. However, when the facts don’t align, and we have asked our “why”, we know our truth, we have the right not to follow, and, in fact, become a leader ourselves.

As a leader, we have a responsibility as well. In this data driven world, we have to acknowledge data can be wrong. When our gut is telling us one thing and the data is telling us something entirely different, we must pause and ask why, we must verify the facts. If we still reach the same decision, then so be it. We will not always be right, but we will know we used the data available to us and we will know our “why”. We then have the obligation to explain our “why” to those who follow us, so that they too, understand the decision, even if they disagree with it. Those that share our belief in the “why” will follow. Those that don’t, won’t…and that’s OK.