by Kitty Wooley – Column, LinkedIn, Twitter
As we pause to ring in the New Year, here are some statements and commentary for review. Your reactions, additions, or subtractions are most welcome. Here’s to your happiness, health, and career success in 2015.
“At the end of the day, what qualifies people to be called ‘leaders’ is their capacity to influence others to change their behavior in order to achieve important results.”
—Joseph Grenny et al., Influencer
No matter what your position, where you sit in your organization, or how long you’ve been in the workforce, if you can do what Grenny describes, you have leadership capability that
you can choose to keep developing. You do not have to wait to be picked for leadership training, because you are a grownup and you can learn to call your own shots. Developing yourself does not take away from colleagues who occupy formal positions of authority because we are not playing a zero-sum game. If you are aligned with the goals and objectives of your employer, leadership is additive. That’s a good thing, because the challenges that are facing the world require the best effort from everyone, pulling together – which also can be more satisfying than going it alone.
The question is, will we develop and use our latent, unique superpowers to make government better? If you’re hanging out with Emerging Local Government Leaders, chances are that you will, because ELGL is modeling the attitudes and actions that characterize better government.
Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them. They don’t need heavy direction. They don’t need daily check-ins. They do what a manager would do – set the tone, assign items, determine what needs to get done, etc. – but they do it by themselves and for themselves.
—Jason Fried & David Hansson, Rework
The above is for every individual contributor who wants to make a valuable contribution and have a good job that does not entail supervising others. Does it mean high performers can cowboy off into the sunset, without having to align with departmental office goals and objectives? Never!
If you have a decision to make, what is the single most important question to ask yourself? I believe it’s ‘when does this decision have to be made’?
—4 Lessons in Creativity From John Cleese
“When most of us have a problem that’s a little bit unresolved, we’re a little bit uncomfortable. We want to resolve it. When you defer decisions as long as possible, it’s giving your unconscious the maximum amount of time to come up with something.”
TOTAL SYSTEM POWER: Developers, Fixers, Integrators, and Validators.
What each of us can do in our multiple roles as Tops, Middles, Bottoms, and Customers to create a system with outstanding capacity to survive and develop.
—Barry Oshry, Total System Power
It’s easy – but futile – to pin everything that’s wrong in the organization on specific individuals or the culture. Learning to recognize organizational systems makes it more likely that dysfunction and unhappiness can be reduced and energy can be freed up to cope with more urgent matters.
So, assuming your sense of humor is of the appropriate kind, here are 7 reasons why I think it’s one of the most underrated leadership traits.
—Steve Tobak, former high-tech senior executive, Why Leaders Need a Sense of Humor
Tobak recognizes that humor that is not at others’ expense helps build teams and motivate employees. That was my experience in government, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy ELGL social media outreach (which is often funny) so much now.
Special bodies of cross-cutting work – such as the Fiscal Outlook, High Risk List, and Duplication & Cost Savings work – can be found in the COLLECTIONS tab.
—U.S. Government Accountability Office
Drill into any one of these 5 key issues, and you will immediately understand how they relate to the grass roots. Most serious problems cross departmental or jurisdictional boundaries. Cross-cutting challenges can’t be tackled effectively by employees at any level of government who are hunkered down in their silos. They can be addressed by those who are willing and able to cooperate and collaborate across boundaries with all relevant stakeholders. Many employees seem to begin their careers with the inclination to talk to and partner with everyone, with varying levels of skill acquired through prior entrepreneurial activity or social media participation, only to find that such behavior is discouraged at work. Because it’s essential that the most serious problems be solved, and that involves boundary-crossing, the following dynamic comes into play:
It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Pair this with what my 6th grade teacher told our class, “You can do anything in this life, as long as you are willing to take the consequences.” What outcomes do you seek in your locale, what legacy do you want to leave behind, and how far outside your comfort zone are you willing to go to make it happen? Are your actions personally sustainable because you have created a win/win scenario that nourishes you while you work on the public’s behalf?