Author Archives: Inspiring Innovations, Inc.
It is that time again when I begin preparing for and making special notes about teaching my American Government & Politics classes. Understandably there are many areas that are similar semester to semester… but it is a BIG priority to consider ideas that will make each class experience unique. So, as I thought back over the last year… a few “out-of-class” experiences seemed to stand out in my mind.
First, I bumped into a past student who was working in a local hardware store. She greeted me with a huge smile and announced: “Hey Sir I got the scholarship that you wrote me a letter of recommendation for! Like we talked in class… I tried to be just me in my application, and it worked!”
Next I was attending a local school function and felt a tap on my shoulder from a middle-aged female student who was working to become a nurse. I could tell she was in a hurry as part of the school event… but she asked if I could stay for a minute so I could meet her son. She said: “Every week we talk at home about some of the stuff we talked about in class… and you know… he actually talked like a real adult!”
Finally, as I was entering a local restaurant, I observed one of my former dual enrollment students working as a waitress. She was very diligently serving customers… and yes smiling a lot… but somehow in the midst of her responsibilities she properly excused herself through a line-up of people and shook my hand. There were no words… just a solid handshake, wonderful smile and a direct look into my eyes. And I instantly remembered the moments we discussed in class how important these elements of a professional greeting are.
I believe I don’t have to say much more to emphasize how important The Little Things are when trying to offer learning moments. Hearing and realizing these BIG payback appreciation experiences are beyond priceless… and yes they have made me a little more ready for the semester!
Over the last 2 months, we have identified and discussed my TOP 10 Emerging Leaders Skill-Building Topics. This month we focus on the Final 4. Separately and together I hope the ten professional development topic discussions I shared with you… will be helpful today, tomorrow and in the future.
During the course of my professional career, there have been many times when I wish I had a “mind-old-stuff-reduction” tool. My dream was that this special tool would periodically remove old programs, services, information and habits that are no longer relevant and in fact have a negative influence on new cooler initiatives! I was NOT hoping that co-workers lose great learnings and good experiences… but rather attempt to make a real clear path and appropriate mind space for whatever new responsibilities were on the horizon.
Think about it! If there were a workshop on “Mind-Cleansing” … would you go? If it helped you rid yourself of old, negative, time-stealing, mind-space occupying stuff… do you think it would be a positive experience.
Bottomline: What I am trying to say is that it is critical to give new ideas a totally clean, fresh, open area in your mind to be professionally strong. If you are a good listener but immediately attach old thoughts, historic challenges and bad experiences to any new concept… your creativity and development potential will NEVER be “open for business”.
When you look up the term “delegate” in my trusty Oxford Dictionary the definition states: To Entrust a Task to Someone. Then if you take the next step and check the Thesaurus section words like: Pass on, Entrust, Assign, Devolve and be your Representative are all identified as terms similar in meaning. So, this week as you read the Delegation with Confidence TRIPLE III TIME message, be sure to revisit this first paragraph for guidance again and again.
First, when you delegate something to your coworkers (and even your children), do you fully ENTRUST the task to them? Is it OK if they do it differently than you would? What if they take more time than you thought they should… are you tolerant of the uncertain time factor? Do you make it clear and comfortable for them to “bother you” with periodic questions and/or request additional instructions?
Next, think about the final product. Do you ENTRUST a level of support and confidence that “perfection” is not the expectation… just a high-quality effort? And if the individual is totally new in their position, do you constructively allow for alternative points of view and possible diverse product results?
Finally, as you go through the process of evaluating their work or products, what is your measuring stick(s)? Do you mainly measure them against your standards and expectations… or consider measurements that take into account experience, background, past skillsets, technology impacts, workplace evolutions and/or other leadership team influences?
I believe to be a high-quality leader… you have to commit to the ENTRUST factor. Building coworkers with confidence and courage to make and learn from their mistakes… will only make you and your organization stronger. Continually looking over everyone’s shoulder is a bad leadership habit. It robs you of precious time… and weakens your ability to look strongly to the future!
As individuals and organizations look at different ways to maximize their continuous improvement efforts, one special option would be to encourage everyone to become a “A Student of the Job”! There have been a few TRIPLE III TIME messages when I have gotten close to addressing this concept specifically but not as a single, direct topic…and never with the goal of identifying quality continuous improvement areas that would enable you to take a very personal approach to professional growth.
So first imagine if you were opening a textbook written about your job. What would you learn about its history…where it started and what it has become today? Whether its priorities have remained the same…customers changed… or performance factors shifted?
Next, as you proceed through the textbook chapters, think about how it might discuss the events and actions that have impacted your job over the years. Maybe it would ask what political or economic factors have influenced the growth/decline/limits related to your job? Possibly the textbook would assess your job as critical in today’s and tomorrow’s world-of-work… or is it on the extinct list? Finally, the textbook should include what people say about/understand the value of what you do… or how it is taken for granted?
The last segment of the textbook about your job would contain a long list of “WHAT ELSE?!” ideas/opportunities/progressions that would qualify as continuous improvements. As “A Student of the Job” I believe there would also be a bunch of blank pages that would require the reader to make learning comments and suggestions for the next students.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this TRIPLE III TIME message about the value of being a regular student of your job. Continuous improvement options should not be just the employer’s responsibility… it is the employees too. Therefore, the more you know about your job… it’s past… current status and potential… the more you can contribute to its progressive future.
You never know where your Inspiring Innovations, Inc. work will take you. However recently as different groups and organizations, I work with are trying to “find themselves” in today’s product/service world…I creatively ask the question: Does Your Organization Have Its Own “PERSONALITY”?
No, it is not a trick question…. rather it is a critical awareness factor when identifying the perceptions people have as they interact with you!
Think about it. Does your organization/business have a friendly… approachable… safe… encouraging… supportive… join-ability or chance-taking PERSONALITY? Does your agency’s PERSONALITY intimidate… frighten… confuse… over-power… or underwhelm those who may be your customers, service providers, project partners or colleagues? Or as you look for your PERSONALITY… do you get frustrated because there doesn’t appear to be much of a PERSONALITY at all?
I believe… I know it is very important for organizations and businesses to assess their PERSONALITY at least a couple times a year. Also, I think it would be important to ask all employees and partners to comment on your PERSONALITY. Because the foundation of your groups PERSONALITY… are the employees. Collectively they shape, move and deliver examples of your PERSONALITY everyday…EVERYDAY.
Last month we discussed the first three (3) Emerging Leaders skill-building topics of my TOP 10 list. As professionals evolve into leadership positions, I believe there are new age areas that need special focus in order to keep organizations and personnel moving forward. So this LEARNING MOMENTS podcast addresses three more critical topics to assist EMERGING LEADERS.
NOTE: It may be helpful to go back and listen to the June 2019 podcast to recall the initial EMERGING LEADERS skill-building topics…and then listen to this months!
One of my long-time favorite musician, song writer, singer and sometimes philosopher is the late Harry Chapin. I always appreciated the simplicity of the thoughtful messages he built into his easy listening songs…and how I wanted to listen to them over and over again just to make sure I heard every feeling.
During one of his interviews before a concert, Harry shared the following statement on the importance of COMMITMENT:
“Good people…with strong ideas should be measured based on their COMMITMENT to do good things…not whether they win or lose. Having a strong COMMITMENT to do good…really makes life worthwhile.”
This quote made me think about how I always stressed my COMMITMENT to the “cause” of helping people, businesses and the community as a whole. And yes, I thought about winning and losing…but they were never the drivers for what I did.
Bottomline: I hope as leaders in your workplace, as examples to others in your everyday life…that you find that positive/progressive area of COMMITMENT and realize the value of Harry Chapin’s words.
My Dad always wanted me to run for public office…but I never really seriously considered it. Why? I think first I never was given enough information and instruction about the “How’s? and When’s?” of entering a race. But equally, I always looked toward a State or Federal opportunity…instead of something more local as a stronger starting point.
This quarters American Society of Public Administration article entitled: Public Administration: Closer to Home I hope offers a few suggestion points to those considering public office in their futures. I hope you enjoy it.
Problem Solving is an every day… every job… every organization challenge. And like most professional challenges there are a number of styles, methods, and processes that have been researched to offer you the best options for Problem Solving. But sometimes doesn’t it seem like a number of problems get bound-up together? You know what I mean. I believe it is necessary to first apply simplicity in addressing Problem Solving questions…to sort…to study…and to prioritize!
Therefore, this TRIPLE III TIME message will attempt (with the aid of a TOP 10 list of idea-generating questions) …to help with the Problem-Solving challenge!
- Does the problem totally belong to me…or do I share it with someone?
- What need am I specifically trying to satisfy?
- Is my problem unique or have others tried to solve it?
- What kind of solutions am I looking for in solving my problem?
- What other professionals could I contact for help?
- If I researched my problem…where would I look and what might I find?
- Is this problem a long-time issue…or brand new?
- Are there particular timeframes that push me for a quick problem solution?
- Could the problem be broken up into smaller issues?
- Would it be easy to problem solve based on convenience…or work extra to discover a stronger solution which however may cost more time and money?
I will admit that all 10 questions are common sense based. However, common sense sometimes evaporates when the problem seems too big! Baby steps & simplicity could be major Problem Solving formula ingredients.