Archive for 2012
Posted on November 15th, 2012 by admin Comments Off
One of the most important challenges every leader faces is resisting the temptation to stay at status quo and embrace an ongoing renewal process where relationships, systems, and outcomes are all strengthened through processes of renewal and refreshment.
You can lead your organization in an ongoing renewal process by following these five “easy steps:”
1. Care and nurture of staff
This is critical because staff—executive or support—represent the heartbeat of your organization. Sometimes in the rush of day-to-day work, the contributions and needs of staff members can be overlooked. Take time for team-building activities; shared play away from the office, thank-you dinners or celebrations marking significant milestones can strengthen relationships and improve morale and performance. Any investment in building a strong staff always pays dividends.
2. Update your organization’s vision and mission
We’re all tempted to relegate the organization’s mission and vision statements to wall-hangings that remind people of past planning processes. As a leader, you have the opportunity to make these statements real and practical by integrating them into the ongoing life of your organization. For instance, dedicate one month to a focus on vision and mission, and take the first 20 minutes of each meeting to reflect on why your organization exists and where it is headed. In succeeding months, focus on your six to eight core values in this reflection time.
3. Address conflicts while they are still small
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable but many of us are tempted to ignore them, especially if we consider them petty, and hope they’ll go away.
One organization we’ve worked with uses the images of pebble, rock and boulder to remind the staff that conflicts addressed at the pebble level are more easily handled than rocks or boulders.
4. Sharing the work load
Too often, leaders get in the habit of saying yes to more responsibilities and fail to delegate appropriate tasks to gifted colleagues. But “many hands make light work” is true in every organization. You might get stuck because you think if you don’t do it, it won’t get done right. Through effective coaching and mentoring, major work responsibilities can be shared without compromising high performance.
5. Think outside the box
Sometimes even very successful organizations can get in a rut of doing the same things over and over. After all, they work and yield positive results. But the most effective organizations are those that name changing needs, identify new approaches to meet those needs, and model a both/and spirit in the organization: both focus on the tried and true and innovate with new approaches that meet emerging needs.
These are five steps we’ve learned from working with organizations over the years. What are your strategies for renewing your organization?
Posted on October 22nd, 2012 by admin Comments Off
We’re in the last quarter of the year—its’ time for an end of the year check on your organization’s communication and fund development plan.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
End of the year solicitations: the holiday season is a fruitful time to contact donors for year-end gifts, and not just because of the potential tax benefits they might accrue. The holidays are a time for reflecting on and giving thanks for the blessings people have experienced. Ask your donors to consider making a gift, ideally a multi-year gift, in celebration and thanksgiving for a loved one’s life. Remind them of the option of remembering your organization in their will, so that they can continue to support your good work.
Update your database: A truly never ending task. As you prepare your end of the year solicitation, make sure you have all the latest information in your database, including donor contact information, important donor dates (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), solicitations they have responded to, and history of giving levels. Do an analysis of your various fundraising activities during the year and compare it with previous years. This will set you up for preparing your strategic communication and fund development plan for the coming year.
Planning for 2013: This starts with reviewing 2012. What has worked that you want to continue? What has outlived its usefulness or requires a transfusion or overhaul? What are the key learnings and ideas that you want to introduce in the 2013?
The last quarter of the year is a time for looking back and looking forward—both for your donors and for your organization itself. Make the most of it, and your organization will reap the reward in 2013 and beyond.
Posted on October 1st, 2012 by admin Comments Off
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
I can’t tell you exactly how it started but lots of little things built up over the years until at some point my wife and I weren’t talking to my brother and his wife. There were multiple factors that just reinforced the rift. There was the fact that we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. And that surprise birthday party they had for my brother where we discovered at the last minute that our sons weren’t invited, while all their children were. This was followed by an disturbing interaction at the wedding of their daughter, which I only learned about afterwards, where my wife was confronted by my sister in law. And the family wedding when we were all placed at the same table, but I really wanted to talk to one of my nephews so I just moved our place cards to his table. And that crack my sister-in-law made about our granddaughter coming from a “broken home” because her mother and my son weren’t married.
You get the idea. Lots of things piled up until it was just easier not to interact at all. The situation over time impacted the whole family to the point that one of my nephews earlier this year said to one one of my other brothers: “What is going on between two of the other brothers and said, “You’ve got to fix this!”
You would think that “fixing it” would be right up my alley. After all, I help people navigate conflict in relationships for a living. But here I was, caught up in a conflict and trying to navigate supporting my wife, while attempting to address the issues. First my wife and I requested to meet with my brother and his wife. We met twice for more than seven hours with very little to show for it. We inquired about engaging a third party, but that was not accepted. After letting it sit for a few months I attempted to convene a sibling meeting that never came to pass.
Conflict dredges up a lot of emotion, there’s no doubt about it. I have found conflict with family members can be especially confusing. This confusion prevented me from taking action sooner. Unfortunately, most of us prefer not to deal with those emotions, so we either ignore them or withdraw to our defensive corners and demonize “the other.”
How can we move beyond this defensive posture? The first step in peacemaking is making peace with ourselves. As Richard Rohr says, either we transform our pain or we transmit it. If we can acknowledge our own hurts and come to understand them, we can begin to address the conflict from a less reactive position.
We need reflect upon or values and to call ourselves to “play bigger.” We need to move out of our corner and into the space between ourselves and the other. Making the first move may not feel very good—after all, “they” probably “started it”—but it needs to happen. C’mon—be the bigger person.
With my brother, I realized that neither of us is getting any younger and I didn’t want to carry all this to the grave. So I made the first move, and we started the long process of rebuilding the relationship. I found that it was easier for us to talk about difficult things if we did so while engaged in some other activity, so we talked while we walked along a popular lake trail. We’re a long way from complete ease with each other, but we’re a long way from total estrangement too.
Difficult emotional situations are not only painful, they are confusing. With all the feelings swirling around, it can be difficult to find a way forward. This is where the involvement of a mediator can be very beneficial. A mediator can help to establish a middle ground, a DMZ, where the parties can safely engage with each other.
Nothing much meaningful can happen, though, until we are willing to acknowledge, confront and transform our own pain and lower our own defensive shields. There will be no peace until it begins with me.
Posted on September 13th, 2012 by admin Comments Off
In more than thirty years of working with people in the helping profession, we have seen how many “helpers” are better at taking care of other people’s needs, rather than taking care of their own. This is particularly true of those who manage a team or who have to moderate conflict-filled relationships.
Working with difficult conversations, stressful situations, challenging personalities and strong emotions is not easy and can take a lot of energy. Whether as a counselor, an organizational leader, or a facilitator, conflict managers are subjected to repeated demands on their finite resources of time, attention and ability. Whether you are a leader, counselor or facilitator, you must respond to changing circumstances repeatedly.
Where do you get your energy? How do you renew your energy? Practices of self-care and renewal are not selfish. Instead, they are necessary to replenish our energy for the work of bridging divides and working toward mutual agreement.
Practices of Renewal:
Below is a short list of possible practices that we have personally experienced or seen as productive in the lives of others. We offer them to stimulate your own thinking about practices that will work for you.
- Reading–making time to read material that supports your learning and growth as a human being.
- Reflection–do you take time to reflect on the events of the day? When was the last time you stopped to take in a sunrise or moonrise? How regularly do you make time for silence?
- Writing/journaling—do you have a book or notebook that you can jot down your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams as you notice them from day to day?
- Music–what kind of music do you like? How consistently do you make time to be still and let the music speak to your spirit?
- Meditation/mindfulness practice—practices of attention can be relaxing and refreshing. Following the rhythm of your breathing in quiet or in activity can be very rejuvenating.
- Biking, hiking and other enjoyable forms of exercise.
- Time spent in nature—going for a walk, sitting by a lake or river or pulling off the road to catch a viewpoint—any of these can be restful and restorative times.
- What’s missing? What other ways do you/might you renew your energy?
Consistent use of self-care practices, like the conscious attention to your own attitudes and reactions toward conflict, enhance both your personal and professional development. They are also a vital ingredient in successful conflict management. When any of these is out of balance, it takes more energy for us simply to get through the day. When these are in balance, we have much more energy to bring to life’s daily tasks and our roles as leaders.
Posted on September 5th, 2012 by admin Comments Off
Reconciliation: The re-establishment of an important, meaningful relationship after the bonds of friendship, kinship, love, and affection have been broken.
Our July Mediation e-letter featured “Fully Informed Decisions=Durable Agreements” that provided and overview of how conscious decision-making can lead to positive long-term outcomes. This month, I want to move the focus beyond a mediated agreement to two other issues affecting relationships: forgiveness and reconciliation.
The emphasis in mediation is on resolving all the key issues that must be addressed to reach an agreement that all parties can live with and live out. In a workplace dispute, those agreements can relate to working hours, a new harassment policy or salary and benefits packages. In a divorce mediation, the issues can include division of assets or a parenting plan. Agreements related to these issues reduce tension in the office and in the family. However, by themselves they do not restore the relationship damaged in the dispute.
For forgiveness and reconciliation to occur, the parties need to be open to examining their own contribution to the dispute and willing to learn from the interaction that took place. Forgiveness is something that we do first for ourselves: when I ask for forgiveness I am saying I was wrong in what I said or did and I am sorry. This is the first step in restoration of the relationship.
Reconciliation requires action by both parties to put back together what was broken during the dispute. When done with honesty and integrity, reconciliation can make the relationship stronger than it was before.
Mediation by itself can produce a good outcome. If you are seeking more than a resolution of issues, I encourage you to consider moving forward with the realities of forgiveness and reconciliation. Both realities are well worth the effort.
Posted on August 9th, 2012 by admin Comments Off
In previous posts, we have looked at five faces of leadership. In this issue, we discuss the final three: You as an Ethical Leader, Collaborative Leader and Pastoral Leader.
You as an Ethical Leader
An ethical approach to leadership is essential for the credibility and effectiveness of leaders today in business, politics and religious circles. As Richard Gula, SS has pointed out, “Professional ethics has to do with the moral character and the sum of obligations that pertain to the practice of a profession.”
One’s moral character and capacity to fulfill professional obligations well demand a consistent and ethical approach. Some dimensions to ethical leadership include:
- The necessary competence to fulfill responsibilities
- A focus on the common good and service to the needs of one’s constituency
- Using “power with” and “power for” rather than “power over” or dominating power
- Practicing good self-care
- Being accountable and transparent in relationships
On which dimension could you focus more to reinforce your ethical leadership?
You as a Collaborative Leader
Collaboration is an approach that focuses on bringing gifts together for a common mission. Collaborative leaders do more “we” thinking, gathering the wisdom of colleagues, than “Lone Ranger” thinking. Collaboration also focuses on building trust and respect in work groups and emphasizing cooperation more than competition.
In what situations do you find collaboration difficult?
You as a Pastoral Leader
Pastoral leadership requires the ability to look at the whole reality of an organization rather than just its parts. It also requires a commitment to help people be their best selves in the workplace and to contribute what they can for the greater good. Stephen Covey identified eight characteristics of principle-centered leaders that also apply to pastoral leaders:
- They are continually learning
- They are service-oriented
- They radiate positive energy
- They believe in other people
- They lead balanced lives
- They see life as an adventure
- They are synergistic
- They exercise for self-renewal
How can you be a more effective pastoral leader?
As you continue on your leadership journey it may be helpful to keep these 8 Faces of Leadership before you.
Posted on August 1st, 2012 by admin Comments Off
Regret is a tragic burden to carry in life. We all know we are called on, from time to time, to make big decisions that can drastically affect our lives forever. They are scary decisions because they have such power to influence our future happiness and security directly. They are the kinds of decisions that couples who are divorcing often face.
The last thing we want to do is make such decisions in haste or without all the information possible at the time. That’s why our mediation process focuses on durable decisions- ones that are fully informed and deliberate. Fully informed decisions have the best chance to stand the test of time.
However, conscious decision-making does not come without a price. It takes time and some detective work to collect all the data needed to make good decisions! Often, over time, personal finances become very complicated and multi-faceted and it’s complicated finding out the true worth of our assets and the full impact of our debt. It can also be scary to really look at the details of our financial lives and realize how sometimes in this hectic world, we have been operating on automatic pilot, without real consciousness of what we are doing.
In our practice in divorce mediation, it is not uncommon for couples to have had a preliminary conversation about the division of property before we meet with them. We are always happy to hear that the work has begun. But we also discover that sometimes these very couples resist the documentation process to look at the net worth of those assets because they are afraid that if they really look at the facts, one of them will change their mind. And that is a risk that sometimes materializes.
But ultimately, it is better to examine all the facts early in the process so that the big decisions can be based on a firm understanding of reality. And so, when we work with couples in the divorce process, we always insist on breaking-open all agreements to understand the intent and analyze the impact.
Posted on July 23rd, 2012 by admin Comments Off
John Reid continues his description of the 8 Faces of Leadership, focusing on leaders as change and conflict managers.
In The Reid Group, we believe several things about conflict: 1) Conflict is as natural as breathing and is positive when well-managed but negative when poorly-managed; 2) Not all conflicts can be resolved but all conflicts can be managed well.
Some keys to managing conflict well:
- Practice deep listening–to your own needs in the conflict as well as the needs of the other.
- Focus on the positions held by the parties involved rather than the person or your past history.
- Look for the “third way” or common ground.
- Move from certainty to curiosity and from blame to contribution regarding the conflict.
- Seek a win-win outcome or a viable option for settling the conflict that all parties can live with.
Here is one formula for managing conflict:
Ventilate–acknowledge the feelings involved (fear, anger, sadness)
Differentiate–identify the specific issues to address and focus on the appropriate ones
Integrate–draw from the wisdom of all parties to craft a solution acceptable to everyone
Those leaders that can act as effective conflict managers make positive contributions to their organizations.
Dealing with change is never easy. When it is managed well by leaders, change can allow for greater morale among the organization’s members, an increased focus on its mission and values, and brings unity in the face of diversity.
A proven approach to successful change management involves Seeing, Naming, and Acting:
Seeing requires seeing clearly what changes are envisioned in the short- and mid-term future so that everyone can join together and focus on the challenges at hand.
Naming demands the ability to articulate the “why behind the what” and involves a clear and concise rationale and listing of the benefits the changes will bring. No one wants change for change’s sake, but most people can appreciate a change with many benefits even if there will be some drawbacks.
Acting requires implementing the changes in sensitive and helpful ways so that those affected can say goodbye to what is ending, to ritualize their sense of loss or grief, and to welcome new beginnings.
Effective leaders in changing times work to unite organizations in the midst of change, lessen resistance to change by deep listening, and encourage those affected to act together in ways that strengthen the organization and focus on the future. We believe leaders serve organizations well when they focus on creative and effective conflict and change management.
Posted on July 2nd, 2012 by admin Comments Off
Where two or three are gathered together—there will conflict be also.
Whenever people get together—for a work group meeting, a holiday party or a family reunion—there is always the possibility of conflict. There is also, however, the opportunity of creative conflict management leading to more peaceful interaction and positive collaboration.
Too often, the individuals involved don’t know how to address any conflicts or what to do to alleviate tension. This was the case recently for a client of mine.
This was a committee charged with making recommendations for the future direction of its organization. Members of the committee were appointed as representatives of various departments in the organization. At a point somewhat late in the process, one of the committee members had to step down and his department assigned Frank, another staff member, to take his place.
At the next meeting, Frank was introduced by Lacy, another committee member from Frank’s department. The committee chair, Amy, told Frank that according to the ground rules of the committee, he should just listen at this first meeting and not make any comments. Lacy objected, saying that was an exaggeration of the ground rules. Amy responded that she was the chair and responsible for ensuring the committee could do its work as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Frank’s fellow department staff members on the committee felt that Amy disrespected Frank and the process by her assertion of authority. Amy and other committee members found Lacy’s objections to be disruptive and obstructive of the committee’s work.
I was the consultant working with this organization on their planning process. Lacy took her concerns to the CEO who suggested that I act as an independent facilitator and convene a meeting between Lacy and Amy as well as a couple of the other members of the committee.
In preparation for the meeting, I asked each participant to send me their responses to these questions:
- What are your hoped-for outcomes for the meeting?
- What are the issues?
- Is there anything else the facilitator should know?
- Is there anything else you would like to say?
As the meeting began, we reviewed everyone’s responses to the pre-meeting questionnaire and established ground rules for the discussion:
- Speak to “the heart of the matter” and listen well.
- Use I statements not you or blaming statements.
- Focus on the key issues without personal attacks.
- Be curious and remain open to new insights and learnings.
- Conflict with respect and negotiate in good faith.
- Maintain confidentiality.
The presence of two other committee members had a calming influence on the discussion as the parties shared with each other what they had experienced and how they had reacted.
All parties present expressed appreciation for the process and the presence of an independent facilitator. While Lacy and Amy were never going to march arm-in-arm singing “Kum Bah Yah,” they did have a subsequent meeting where they could continue their discussion and find better ways to work together.
Sometimes the practice of peacebuilding is as simple as clarifying assumptions and establishing clear communication. It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mode and respond to the other with defensiveness and animosity. It’s important to examine your own “hot buttons” and put the brakes on an impulse to hit back. This practice of moving toward peaceful collaboration is made possible by bringing people together in a setting where they can set aside their assumptions and review the issues and what happened.
The mediator in this situation is trying to build the capacity for all members of the group to embrace an understanding that “we are all in this together.” This is the approach we use at The Reid Group and we have found that this role of independent facilitator is an important component of any group’s ability to work collaboratively while reducing tension and unproductive energy.
Posted on June 14th, 2012 by admin Comments Off
“I’d rather clean toilets.” Recently, I was working with an organization’s Board on techniques for successful fundraising, and this was an actual comment from one of the members. Doesn’t that just about say it? For a lot of people, that’s how they would characterize their attitude toward fundraising.
Money is one of those topics, like sex or politics or religion, that tends to be off limits in polite company because it evokes strong feelings and deeply held opinions. Everyone has a “money autobiography,” a story of their particular life experience with money, that shapes how they think about money. And how you think about money affects your attitude about fundraising. If that attitude is negative—surprise, surprise—your aren’t going to be effective in any fundraising activity.
Not everyone has a negative view of fundraising, but many do. Lots of people have trouble just talking about money, much less asking other people for it. Maybe, like many of us, you think of asking for money as “begging.” Maybe it gives you that same anxious, powerless feeling you got when asking your parents for an increase in your allowance or your bank for a loan.
It may also be true that even though you have a negative attitude toward raising money, you wish you didn’t. You wish you did like it, were good at it. Because there are causes and organizations you feel passionate about that need money to do their good work and you would love to help them get it.
So how about this? If you want to transform the attitude about raising money in yourself, your team or your Board, put the activity of fundraising into a new context. Instead of “begging people for money,” envision this activity as inviting people to do two things:
- Think about how they are using their gifts to build the community around them.
- Consider becoming part of the mission and vision of the your organization or one you are supporting by contributing a portion of those gifts (money or talent or time) to that organization.
The truth is, you’re not “begging” people for money. You’re offering them a chance to become a part of the mission, values and goals of something you care deeply about. You’re asking them to make an impact in people’s lives. Just like you do.
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