Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
The comment stung.
“I found her to be self-promoting.”
Last fall, I presented at a women’s conference. My session topic was a favorite of mine: vision, encouraging women to create their own futures. Shortly after the conference I received the written evaluations from participants, and there it was. That comment. Ouch! It was like a dagger in the heart.
The comment brought me back to the work I’d done years ago with my own personal coach around the topic of being selfish and what that meant for me. Like many people I was raised to not talk about my accomplishments. And if I did, it wasn’t uncommon to hear my mom say, “Don’t break your hand patting yourself on your back Ginny.” And so I learned at a young age that it wasn’t okay to embrace my own successes.
During the women’s conference session, I did embrace my successes. I shared my own story of creating a 5-, 10- and 15-year vision and how that helped me to do the work I do today. I shared stories of women who participated in our Women in Leadership groups and the visions they created and accomplished.
Is it self-promoting to talk with others about our passions, to connect about how we’re working to make a difference? Is it selfish for us to focus on the reason that we’re on this planet?
As the sting of that “self-promoting” comment wore off, it made me think about my word for 2013.
As many of you know, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions because they don’t often lead to sustainable change. Instead, I pick a word for the year and make that my focus. I invite you to do the same by commenting your word for 2013 below. If you tell me your word, I promise to touch base with you throughout the year to see how it’s going.
I’m cheating a bit this year because I have two words: Purposeful Living.
My focus for 2013 is to continue living in accordance with my own purpose and to become even more diligent in helping others to live according to their purpose. It really does create a ripple effect. Think about the impact that you have not just on your co-workers, but also on your family when you are able to spend your day doing work that makes you feel alive. One of my recent MBA students said it well with these words in her final reflective paper: “Leadership can be defined in many different ways. Ultimately, I want to lead people, not with my title, but through my actions. I can’t do this unless I have a purpose and a vision. I wouldn’t start a road trip without a destination in mind, so why would I lead without a purpose.”
Success to me is helping others move closer to living in accordance with their life’s purpose. My own life purpose is to nurture and inspire others to reach for the stars. When I hear success stories from the men and women I am blessed to work with – whether those success stories are big or small – it reminds me that I’m doing the work I was put on this planet to do.
And I’m OK with promoting that.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go out and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Harold Whiteman
“The secret of success is not in doing your own work, but in recognizing the right person to do it.” Hasan Seleem (www.dirjournal.com)
It’s a big topic in our Management in Organizations class—either because people struggle with it personally or because they are the victim of others who struggle. What, you ask? Delegation—and managers who struggle to let go.
One of the first things that we talk about in class is the fact that the transition from individual contributor to being a first time manager is one of the most difficult transitions that happen in our work environments. That transition requires that you go from a role where you are primarily responsible for your own results, to a role where you are primarily responsible for helping others to be successful.
In our most recent quiz, I asked the students (all who are working full time while getting their MBAs) to talk about someone they believes struggles to delegate and what barrier(s) they think gets in the way. I also invited them to feel free and talk about themselves if they would like. Following is a sample of their responses. As you read them, I encourage you to decide if you fall into any of these categories.
“I have a manager that really struggles with delegation. She is always very busy (and often tells you so) but is unwilling to let go of some tasks. I think she struggles with letting go and giving up control because she things she can do it better than anyone else and is worried that if others take on these tasks, what will be left for her to do.”
“As an account manager, I struggle with turning over accounts to other account managers. I tend to elongate the transition period so that I can show the new manager how I do everything and expect them to do things the same way as I did. I do this because I believe that the way I do things is necessary to retain the account. However I need to realize that as long as the outcomes of account management are being met, the new manager is free to implement their own style.”
“Sometimes I struggle with delegation because I think it’s easier to complete myself or it will take more time to teach and explain it to someone else.”
“I am a horrible delegator (though I’m getting better). I often find myself with too much to do while my coworkers don’t have enough to do. I’m a class to-do hoarder. My biggest barrier is that I’m afraid to give up control over things I will later be accountable for. I’ve got an idea of what I want done but laying out my vision takes work that I don’t make time for. Ultimately I’m going to have to give up control.”
“I saw a manager that had a hard time delegating. He always thought it was faster and done better if he did it himself. He also had trouble letting go of control. As soon as someone deviated from his method, he jumped back in and took the task away again. He was not good at providing direction or providing support, and as such set his underlings up for failure, more often than not.”
“I’ve had a previous manager who only delegated to one or two people on the team because I believe he thought they were the only ones capable of handling the assignments. The manager would micromanage those individuals as well. I believe the manager made assumptions that since the people had more experience with the company they can handle a task better. Note—I and many others left his team as well. He did not have us engaged so we got bored.”
And yes, I could go on and on with examples, but I think you get the idea. Did you see yourself in any of these examples? I hope not. But if you did, I recommend this website with steps, tips and a discussion of the real and perceived barriers to delegation.
Whether it’s a role model, mentor, or coach… what characteristics or qualities do you look for in a guide?
Last week, John Maxwell’s blog, “Qualities of a Good Guide” came across my inbox and reminded me of the importance of building relationships with others that you know will help you develop personally and professionally. Maxwell said, “Regardless of your level of natural talent, you will not reach your potential in life without the guidance of others. It’s hard to grow with no one else to follow but yourself.” So how do you select the role model, mentor, or coach to help you reach your potential?
Maxwell suggests looking for a guide with the following characteristics:
1) A Passion for Personal Growth – how will someone help you grow if they don’t have a passion for it themselves?
2) A Trustworthy Example – do they “walk the walk”?
3) Proven Experience – knowledge comes from experience, what can they teach you?
4) Friendship & Support – do they have an invested interest in you as a person?
5) Competence – can they be a “good” guide?
The blog also made me think of one of my favorite coaching quotes from Tom Landry, legendary NFL Coach, who once said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear – so you can see what you don’t want to see – so you can be what you’ve always wanted to be.”
I’d love to hear what you think… what characteristics do you find most helpful in choosing a guide?
To read more, visit John Maxwell’s Blog at www.johnmaxwell.com.
Kris – Thank you for sharing the article with us!
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It’s unique but it’s global. The differences are much less than you might imagine. During our Leadership and Personal development class in Italy, we heard the stories from two Italian leaders. As I sat and listened to both of them I was struck by the comparison in their messages with the leaders who have spoken to other MBA classes in the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. It really doesn’t matter where you are living and working; or where you’ve been raised. The messages are the same.
Marco Scippa, HR Director Imaging at Vitec Group talked about moving his family around—and the positive impact that those moves had on his family. He believes their quality of life was more interesting because they moved around. One of the things that I really appreciated about Marco’s message was his time in Moscow, Russia. Rather than live in the ex-pat village outside of Moscow, he and his family instead chose to live in Moscow, amongst the natives. They wanted to be immersed in the culture and the language. He said that his kids continue to be better at speaking Russian than he is!
Marco’s first message was that strong leaders capture the minds and hearts of their people.
Marco’s rules of leadership are:
- Be curious
- Get out of your comfort zone
- You must be able to communicate
- It is more important what we do than what we say
Our other speaker was Luca Semaniti. At the young age of 38, Luca is the Founder and co-Partner of Ideal Work, S.l.r. which provides products, tools and training for the Decorative concrete industry in the USA, Europe and Asia. Luca takes his definition of leadership from the landmark book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. A leader is, “Someone who blends genuine personal humility with intense professional will. Somebody ambitious for the company and not for his Ego. Modest and wilful Shy and Fearless.”
“Early on, I didn’t want to be a leader, because I didn’t understand what leadership was really about. Leadership was a scary word for me.” He shared the five myths of leadership that he had to overcome:
- A leader is a Man
- A leader is POWERFUL and he knows what to do
- A leader has a BIG EGO
- A leader is a little bit arrogant
- A leader is a CHIEF
Luca talked about the importance of self-knowledge when it came to developing his leadership skills. He said the self knowledge was like someone said to him “Here is a box—you already have what you need to be a leader.”
Luca reinforced for the class that leadership is about our relationship with other people and our family. Like many other MBA speakers, he strongly encouraged the students to look for leadership experiences in other areas of their lives.
Thank you to Marco and Luca for sharing your stories with our students—and me. I am continually inspired by stories of people committed to their leadership journeys.
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Posted in Communication, Global Leaders, Leadership Advice, MBA Class, Self-Awareness | No Comments »
The following was written by an MBA student following our first full weekend of Leadership and Personal Development class:
“Absorbing the concepts from class, Ambassador Mary Kramer’s stories and previous lessons of life, leadership reminds me a bit of a trip to San Francisco I took a few years ago. Obviously the Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic image and landmark in San Francisco and even passers-through make an effort to see the giant structure. I wanted to see it as well so I made my way to Nob Hill, a well known neighborhood and then set out to find the famous bridge. The day I took this adventure, as many are in that area, was quite foggy so I couldn’t see the bridge from Nob Hill but I knew generally in what direction I needed to go. At first I could only make out the general impression of the bridge, almost like a shadow, as I descended the hills to the waterfront. Gradually though, the bridge became more and more visible and so did the ocean beyond. The closer and closer I got to that bridge, the more and more clear it became that the bridge was indescribably large and the expanse of ocean beyond was perhaps more magnificent. Leadership, to me is like that morning walk to the waterfront in San Francisco: the closer I got to my objective, the clearer it was that the objective was so much larger than a human can comprehend and the more the endlessness of the rolling ocean put my original objective into context.
I’m not sure I will (or anyone can) ever fully internalize a complete understanding of leadership. It’s probably not even worthwhile to try. When I finally got to the pedestrian access to the Golden Gate Bridge, I decided to study the cable supports and think about the engineering feats of that design. But I couldn’t possibly take in the entire structure, the span, the height, the roadways, the lighting, the views back to San Francisco and the inhuman scale in one brief visit. I think my application of leadership should be similar – purposeful but focused on a specific enough area of my personal life or career that I don’t get lost in fully understanding leadership when there is so much to be done once I apply what is relevant to me.
This, of course, is not to say that learning about leadership is a finite or terminable exercise that I should do once. I was reminded more in one weekend of this class than in any other setting over the past years that I have a passion and interest for lifetime learning. Leadership, to be certain, is something that I am interested in learning about and a skill I hope to develop. But I realize now that I have gone through cycles in my life, work life especially, where I have tried to understand and study leadership at the expense of putting anything I’ve learned into practice. I can now see that it would be far better for me to adopt a more cyclical pattern (maybe the Self-Directed Learning Model) of learning new leadership concepts, applying them in different areas of my life and then adjusting those efforts until they are comfortable and effective.”
By Michael Hass, U of Iowa MBA student, Spring 2012 Leadership class
Thank you, Michael, for letting me share your thoughts!
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Our University of Iowa MBA Leadership and Personal Development class was honored to hear from guest speaker Jim Israel last weekend. Jim is the President of John Deere Worldwide Financial Services Division. He shared his guidance for developing yourself, as a person and as a leader.
1. Get out of your comfort zone. Your success will be how effective you can rally your team. “To be a good leader you don’t have to be an expert. I see myself as the offensive line clearing the way for others to run and pass the ball.”
If you ever get the opportunity to do something new, do it. “If we make 100% of our decisions right, then we’re not making enough decisions—or taking enough risks.”
2. If you have a chance to do a global assignment, do it. The world is a lot more similar than it is different. Our customers and dealers have very similar desires and concerns. It is also great to see the United States through another country’s lens.
3. Set a clear vision for your organization. Jim talked about the power of aligning his division around a common vision. But creating that vision is only the first step. Then you have to motivate, align and inspire the organization. “And motivation isn’t about pom-poms. I have seen some soft-spoken leaders drive people to do great things.” (Jim also joked that he, however, isn’t one of the soft-spoken ones.)
4. Stay true to your own style. Do what your passionate about And have fun! “Going to work shouldn’t be drudgery. If you don’t go to work everyday excited about what you do, go somewhere else.”
5. Do things the right way. And make sure your “say-do” ration is 100%. “It is equally important how you accomplish something as what you accomplish. ”
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You can’t over-communicate. You have to say things over and over. And people need different kinds of communication. “You also owe it to your people to talk about the bad news. People are afraid of what they don’t know. “ He talked about the credit crisis in 2008 and how they spent a great deal of time in straight talk with their people. Also, one of the most important parts of communication is listening. “Our greatest ideas come from people closest to our customers.”
7. Focus on developing talent. “The most important thing I do is get the right people in the right chairs.” Identify people who have potential and keep providing them with challenges. Stretch your high potential people. And remember for yourself not to focus on pay. “If you’re moving around alot, you’re going to be at the bottom of the pay grade a lot. Your pay will catch up with you. ”
8. Strive for work-life balance. Not only your own but for your people. “It used to be a badge of honor how many hours you worked.” But there are a lot of things in life you’ll never have the opportunity to get back. Work is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself, emotionally and physically. “I invite my grandkids to come and have lunch with me at work every couple of months.”
9. Give back to your community. Pay it forward.
Thanks Jim for these words and much more. And for providing a role model of authentic leadership for our class.
Posted in Balance, Communication, Global Leaders, Leadership Advice, Listening, MBA Class, Teams, Vision | 1 Comment »
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Marianne Williamson
I’m not sure you can say that I write a “blog” when it has been two months since the last posting. I could say it is because I’ve been busy, but that would be an excuse. The truth is that I find myself wondering if something I write will be important enough to impact people’s thinking. Yes, this is ego at play. I find myself reading other writings and listening to other speakers and thinking, “wow, they have it together.”
And then I was introduced to the video link about everyday leadership and it has inspired me beyond words. In the past two weeks, I’ve shared the video with my MBA leadership class, our QC Leadership Academy and four of my Women in Leadership groups. In all cases, the results have made for engaging conversation about “lollipop moments” and yes, a few tears.
I encourage you not just to view this video, but to do two things. First, share it with others. And second, think about someone that has created a lollipop moment for you—and tell them about it.
Okay, one more request. Please share your moments with us in the comments section.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
I remember smiling and thinking at the time, “This young man is going to accomplish exactly what he is talking about”. Almost two years ago I had been invited by River Action to work with their Youth Board and other young leaders in the Quad Cities. After sharing my own perspective on leadership I walked them through a reflective exercise where they imagined what their life would look like in five or ten years.
I sat back and watched them draw their visions of the future. Fifteen minutes later they shared their stories. Many of them spoke with an amazing amount of confidence about their futures. One of the people attending was Chad Driscoll. At the time Chad was working for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Quad Cities as their Americorps Program Director. But his five year vision clearly showed him working in Des Moines. And the passion and conviction he spoke with made me smile.
Last week I received the following e-mail from Chad, which I am sharing with his permission.
Anyways, one of the activities you did with us was have us draw our vision, or future plans, or where we would like to see ourselves down the road. So what I drew was the state of Iowa with marks on it of where I have been, where I am now, and where I would like to go moving forward. Where I wanted to go was to be in Des Moines and have a state job or work within an organization there or possibly in politics but my focus was and is on service and giving back to the community.
Well I wanted to share with you that I am going to be starting a new job in Des Moines in a couple weeks!! I will be a Program Officer with the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and will oversee a variety of education focused AmeriCorps Programs in the state of Iowa as well as other initiatives that come through the office. I am very excited about this career move, although I am sad to leave the Quad Cities and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I wanted to share this with you because this was part of the idea of what I drew during that session a couple years ago and I still have that piece of paper at home!
The other cool thing about how all this developed was they approached me when this opening came available. I was not looking or seeking another job. In my current role, I do work with them pretty regularly so they have seen my work and product and know what I am capable of. So you never know who is watching!
In her article “Vision, Learning to Manage the Dream” Nancy Fredericks talks about the power that comes from creating a vision.
Power Comes with Vision. As we emotionally and passionately create our vision, we connect our internal resources to opportunities outside of ourselves that support us in achieving our vision. Internally, radiating from within the oldest part of our brain stem is a small network of cells called our reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS provides us with the unique function of filtering incoming information to support our goals and visions. Without us even knowing it, this powerful internal tool is automatically aligning us with the external world so that we are in the right place at the right time. The system is always working to produce the results we request, whether positive or negative. The unique aspect of this system is that it is always working for you; so when you don’t use it to support yourself consciously, it will be taking its lead from your unconscious. If you aren’t getting fulfilling results in your life, take a look at what you are unconsciously creating.
Lean more at www.nancyfredericks.com/vision/.
Leadership is a journey, not a destination It is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a process, not an outcome.
John Donahoe, president of eBay
A number of years ago I went on a 4 day white water rafting trip on the Green River in Utah. The route was mostly level 2 and 3 rapids with an occasional level 4. There were three rafts in our group. I remember getting to our raft and looking at our guide—a young man who was just eighteen years old. My mind went to judgment and my body went to fear about his potential inexperience. Then I asked him how long he had been rafting and how he approached things. His answer sealed the deal for me. “I’ve been rafting on this river since I was 14 years old. But every time I come to this river I always assume it will be different than any time before. The river can change in an instant—and I don’t take anything for granted.”
Alrighty then, we’re going to be just fine—and we were.
But that trip is such a reminder for me that leadership is an ongoing journey—and one that can change in an instant. And unlike the rafting trip, where we are encouraged to travel light, our leadership journey is one in which we often bring years of experience (and bad habits along with us).
Last week I heard an energizing and inspiring presentation by Chad Pregracke, Founder and President of Living Lands and Water. While Chad had many great things to say about his journey, three things stood out for me. First, he talked about approaching a local company to sponsor him and he asked for a large sum of money (a sum that many people would say he was crazy to ask for). His comment, “I didn’t set out with small intentions.”
Second, Chad said that if you set out to do good things, then good things will happen to you.
And finally, Chad said he read somewhere that the earth wasn’t destroyed all at one, but piece by piece. “And so that is how it needs to be cleaned up” one day at a time.
Those same lessons apply to our leadership journey, as was evidenced by the fact that the same day I heard Chad speak I had an email from a coaching client who is working to redirect some of her leadership efforts and overcome bad habits. She said, “I’m working on the things we talked about. It’s hard to change fifty-something years of bad habits…but I’m starting.”
And that is all that we can ask. If you follow Chad’s advice, you can start something with big goals, but also recognize that you’re going to achieve those one day at a time. And remember, that leadership development really is a marathon, not a sprint!
A wise Ojibwa Indian elder once told me that “There are many communities out there for us. We just have to go out and find them.” He is indeed so very right.
I sit on the airplane flying home after almost two weeks working in Europe. As often happens when I travel for work, I find myself feeling excitement to be home and also a sadness of having left new “friends” behind. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love my work. I get up almost every day and have the chance to teach, coach, and most importantly perhaps, continue my own learning journey.
This was a trip of leadership training for a client. There was a four day course in England and then the following week a two day course in Germany. In both courses, they were participants from different countries. The first week we had a wonderful mix of English, German and French. The second week was German and English.
I wish that I could say that I speak the languages, but I don’t. I did however do my best to learn a few key words in German and also study some things about the cultures in the UK and Germany. It is always important to me when I travel to a foreign country to be as respectful as possible of the local cultures, even if I don’t speak the language fluently.
One of my biggest lessons came the first week. All of the participants spoke English, some better than others. I tried my best to be aware of the words and phrases I used in my examples and Power Point slides. I also looked for those times when I got the glazed over looks from some of the participants. Gradually though, by midway through the third day of training, I noticed that people were more vocal and asking me to explain a word or phrase. I realized how very much I appreciated them doing that.
And then it hit me that I hadn’t actually ASKED them the very first day to please feel free and ask. I guess I just assumed that would happen. But I learned that isn’t the nature of many of the people who were in the course. It left me wondering how many times the first couple days I left them wondering “what the heck is she talking about.”
The good news is that I took my new found learning to heart. The very first day of the second week of training I asked the new group of people to please feel free and ask me about anything they heard and didn’t understand. And I’m thrilled to say they were very receptive and did indeed do so.
International flights: 3.
Thank you to all of my new friends in the UK, Germany and France. A special thanks also to Alexandra and her husband Thorsten who spent a wonderful day introducing me to the Old Town of Heidelberg.