When things are tough and not going your way, that is the prime time to find your legs and get moving in a positive direction.
I must say I had the opportunity to find my legs this past weekend as I participated in the Women’s March in Washington D.C. By the way, there were many men at the March as well! One striking observation was the age range of the participants – very young and many who were my senior sisters; some of whom were using walkers and wheelchairs. Sadly, they mentioned that they were standing up for the same issues they did back in the 60s and 70s.
It was an inspiring experience and here are a few reasons why:
- While the millions of participants had a variety of reasons they joined in, there was a common theme — love for doing what is right and for one another, regardless the differences among us. It was astounding to have that many people in one area and EVERYONE was patient, kind, and helpful. People were sharing food, helping others walk when they struggled, and looking to help connect friends that got separated.
- I was reminded to remain open-minded and watch out for potential bias. I took this adventure with two of my girlfriends, Lori and Betsi. As we met people and they learned we were from Texas, they were SHOCKED! “Wow, I wouldn’t have expected that! You came all this way?” I get it; our brains make shortcuts as a way to sort through and manage the mass of information, so we compartmentalize. That sorting mechanism creates biases. We make judgments based on appearance and stereotypes. However, we never really know what a person is all about until we know their story. I’m hopeful that those people we met have a broader view of Texans.
- Driving change takes much more than lip service. You have to take action and stay engaged in the work. I know that I can get “busy” with life and become complacent thinking, other people will do what is needed. “What difference will I make?” It just won’t work that way. If you want to see something different, you have to do more than talk.
While the context of this was from this past weekend’s events, here is how I see it applying to the workplace.
- When we consider other department’s perspectives and priorities, we stop operating in silos. We make better decisions for the greater good and can work as a highly functional organization.
- In the lessons from Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” This approach requires not jumping to conclusions but instead seeking to understand another person’s perspective before claiming your point-of-view. As a leader, you should talk less, listen more. Let go of your ego and make time and space for others on the agenda. Ask questions and listen to other’s … you know, that whole “two heads are better than one” thing. I guarantee you will make better decisions.
- Consistently look for ways to leave things better than you found them. Create efficiencies, leverage the talents of your team, get the right people on your team, improve your ROI — the list goes on and on. Change is hard. Leaders need to model the type of behavior and way of thinking they want to see in their team. You cannot just talk a good game and behave in a different manner. Integrity is required for your words and actions to align. You will engage others on your team to help drive the needed change if people can see that you put your words into action.
If you found inspiration by the events of the past week, I’d love to hear about them and share with our readers. It will be good for us to reflect on the moments of inspiration when we are digging into the hard work of leadership throughout the year.
Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.