While we wish all of our members could of joined us at WCQI 2017 in Charlotte, NC, we were so happy to see so many of you stop by our booth and have a chat with the leadership team. Wanda Sturm, our 2016-2017 division chair, wrote a great article on LinkedIn summarizing many of the highlights from this year's world conference. We also took as many pictures of HD&L sessions and events as we could to share with our members....check out the photo gallery below. We hope to see you next year in Seattle!
Blog Post Authored by:
Chuck Brinck (HD&L Member)
Growing up, we always had Christmas Cactuses in our house. These plants are notoriously difficult to foster and grow. They don’t want their roots to be too wet; they’re a cactus after all! They like light, but nothing direct – only filtered, soft light which makes afternoon light ideal. You could say Christmas Cactus are like the “second shift” workers of the plant world. Surprisingly, if these plants get too much sun, their supple leaves will turn red looking blistered and sunburned. For temperature, it needs to be cool, but not cold – you can’t let them get hit with a frost or their plump, watery little leaves will be damaged.
Generally, Christmas Cactus, like most cactus plants, are a very boring, unassuming plant. Many people wouldn’t give them a second thought in their homes and gardens. Their foliage isn’t anything spectacular, they die easily, and unless they are in the absolute perfect conditions, they rarely bloom. But, if you can get the mixture just right – find that sweet spot of water, light, and temperature – they produce copious amounts of delicate flowers with a light, sweet scent. They transcend their dull and ordinary day-to-day shell and become magnificent.
In a lot of respects, people aren’t so different from my beloved Christmas Cactus. Many of us have a dull, ordinary day-to-day exterior that we adopt to “just get through the day”. The less “right” the environment is for us, the more into survival mode we get; the more closed off to new opportunities, adventures, and risks we become. In exploring some of the reasons for people going into survival mode; there are often trends that appear. If we take the three main factors for healthy growth of a plant (water, light, and temperature) and equate those out to people, they resemble work, recognition, and interactions.
For a lot of individuals, having a meaningful job is what feeds the soul - it keeps us nourished and fulfilled. It’s where we derive a large portion of our sense of self-worth and a sizeable degree of our self-image. The jobs that we perform have to be the right mixture though; just enough work to keep us busy and engaged without making us feel as if we’re drowning and overwhelmed. It also can’t be a desert, barren and devoid of meaning.
On either end of that spectrum - people start to wither and become dissatisfied. “There’s just so much to do! I never seem to get ahead!” Frustration is a seed that takes root so, so easily. It’s like a fungus on a plant that latches on and slowly bleeds out the energy and life. Feeling overwhelmed starts to cloud our purpose; it prevents us from seeing all of the marvels we’re generating and muddies the perception of progress. It forces us to only look ahead at the daunting mountain before us and lose hope for success. Frustration bars us from looking back and seeing the stunning, rich pastures we created from the mountains of yesterday.
For our efforts and time spent completing the tasks before us, we all want recognition – to know that what we did is appreciated and has meaning. But, we don’t want just any old recognition! We crave our own personal, unique form of recognition. It’s akin to the preferences of plants for different types of soil. Not every plant likes neutral soil, some like it a little, or lot, on the acidic side while others prefer it more alkaline. When the wrong soil, or base, is used the results are often disastrous and sprout from one central, core mistake, the Golden Rule.
It’s a fallacy we were taught since childhood - “Treat others as you’d want to be treated.” I suppose it’s fine for children; they aren’t equipped yet to conceptualize and understand what “others” really are. Not until later in life do we start to comprehend that we aren’t “others”, we’re individuals. Applying the Golden Rule is an expeditious way to irritate others, especially when applied to recognition. That’s where the Platinum Rule comes in: “Do unto others as they want to be done.” That’s a rough concept to incorporate, and if you can master it, you’ll be a much more effective leader.
Why will the Platinum Rule make you a better leader? Because no one, absolutely no one, wants to work hard, do an outstanding job, and get no reward or credit for it. The sad reality is that the wrong type of recognition is effectively none at all. The tricky bit is figuring out how each of the remarkable individuals you work and interact with want to be rewarded. For some, it’s all about the limelight - put them up in front of a group, shout praises to the heavens for all to hear, and present an award which can be prominently displayed. Of course, the other end of that spectrum exists too, individuals more like me - the quiet, mild, and meek out there who want nothing more than a private “Good job.” with a pat on the back. No fanfare, no flashy awards, and certainly no parties or public gatherings. There is a sweet spot in there where we all fall.
The last factor to touch on is we need to live at the right “temperature”. I’m not talking Arctic or Tropical but our interactions with others. How we interact with the people in our lives sets the temperature around us. The rapport we have with our peers, subordinates, and upper management may be either too confrontational, aggressive, or intrusive (hot) or too aloof, disinterested, or uninvested (cold). Some individuals absolutely love a good, heated discussion and others it completely shuts down; they’ll be sitting at their desk zoned out for days. For people like me, sitting alone in a corner, working feverishly by myself is the best environment in the world. Putting someone from the first camp into my environment would be detrimental. They’ll be up walking around talking to anyone and everyone because they need to see, hear, and feel people around them to be alive and think.
It’s our job as leaders and managers to tend our gardens. The task before us, of discovering all about the individuals we guide and mentor, is enormous. It’s a delicate balance between nature and nurture; examining the unique personalities of our gardens and learning what each person’s specific needs are and what makes them flourish. When we get it just right, the payoff is spectacular; watching someone grow and blossom is an incredible sight to behold.
So with that, cultivate your green thumb, my friends. You’ve got a garden, make the most of it!
Blog Post Authored by:
Stephanie Gaulding(HD&L Marketing & Communications Chair)
I recently completed an 8 week virtual training course on "Strategic Engagement Skills for Professionals Leading Change" offered by HD&L in partnership with The Center for Strategy Realization and I wanted to share my experience given the virtual nature of the course. I know what my own biases are when looking at taking a virtual course and I, like many of you, have experienced some not so good virtual offerings. My own reasons for not liking or attending virtual courses have varied from the course being offered at an inconvenient time, issues with the virtual platform, not able to access stable internet connections while traveling, etc. This course, unlike many of the other virtual courses I've attended, is designed to be flexible meeting the needs of someone like me who travels as a part of my job.
Let's first talk about scheduling. This is probably one of my biggest concerns when considering a virtual course as I am a consultant so I am often on the road. My class actually had participants based not only throughout the US but also in Australia so you can imagine finding a single time each week for us to meet when we could all be on the phone was challenging to say the least. This course is designed so that you have the flexibility to attend live or listen to the recorded session at your leisure. Being a consultant, my schedule is constantly changing so this flexibility came in very handy as I progressed through the course. I often found myself using both methods to make sure I kept up with the course content.
Now let's talk about the platform. Each session in delivered through GoToWebinar, the same platform that HD&L uses for our webinars, and recorded which is uploaded to a web-based repository. The familiarity of the GoToWebinar platform from attending previous webinars made participating in the class easy. The only real difference is that we were un-muted throughout the entire session where in webinars, attendees are typically muted. In addition, the entire class is give access to the web-based repository which is not only available throughout the class, but continues to be available after completing the course. This is beneficial especially if, like me, you decide to pursue the optional certification that is offered as I can access the materials and recorded sessions at any time in preparation for the exam.
As for stable internet connections, there is not much I can do about that given the nature of my job and being on the road all the time. However, the availability of recordings made me less concerned about missing a session due to connectivity issues. I just emailed the instructor and let her know and then listened to the the recording later.
Now why would I take the time to share my experience? That's the easiest question to answer....I was convinced that the course content was well worth the risks of the virtual nature of the course. I, like many of you, are involved in projects aimed at implementing new technologies, changing operational processes or shifting organizational culture. Often these projects achieve a short lived results but do not always achieve a sustained result. Through this course, I learned a great framework for enhancing these types of projects and initiatives and increasing the probability of project success and sustaining the desired outcome.
Currently, I am working towards applying the seven engagement skills (see figure 1) to a project that I have been working on recently. One of the biggest differences that I have noticed thus far, as compared to previous projects I've lead, are in my ability to create an inspirational story that not only motivates my project sponsor, but also motivates team members and ultimately those affected by the change. I often underestimated the value of taking the time to craft a good story and the impact that it might have for my project and the framework I learned in this course increased my storytelling ability quickly.
While I'm still applying the new skills I've learned, I am eager to see the differences in results as my project progresses and hoping to see a sustained, long-term, positive effect within my organization. If you're interested in learning more about this course, I encourage you to go to http://asqhdandl.org/ses.html to learn more.
Blog Post Authored by:
Chuck Brinck (HD&L Member)
Throughout my career, only a few years of it were spent in an actual “Management” position. What’s interesting to me though is that those I worked for and with, would consider me to be in a “leadership position” for most of my career. Leading audit teams, implementations, and various other projects - I’ve been in the driver’s seat more often than not. It was only a few years at the very beginning that I was truly a follower. I wasn’t sure of myself, the environment, and how much opinion I was allowed to voice. I have to admit, even in those early days, it was a tenuous relationship I maintained with “just following along”.
Not that I am the rebellious sort, far from it in fact! I am one of the first people to step up to the plate and indicate that we need policies, procedures, checklists, and manuals for smooth operation. I’ve written many a policy, work instruction, and even a Quality Manual in my day. Where I find that my strained relationship with “playing by the rules” creeps in is when those established policies and rules don’t make sense. When there is an arbitrariness to their form and function or logic seemingly goes out the window. I have this irresistible urge to question it and I can’t leave well enough alone. Surely there is a reason why it’s like this, no one would do something like that without a reason, an explanation, or a degree of logic applied, right? Right?!
I was often disappointed, when I poked a stick at these oddities, to find what was being done, in fact, was done for no defensible reason. Too often it was “That’s the way it’s always been done.” or “Because that’s what the procedure/policy says to do.” As leaders, we should outlaw both of those phrases. If we have no more reason to do something than because we’ve always done it or because a policy tells us to – we should stop and question it. When we let that kind of thinking into our organizations, it saps away all semblance of responsibility, accountability, and thought. It promotes laziness and a pass-the-buck mentality. No leader really wants that; we want empowered, engaged, and driven teams!
A type of policy that stands diametrically opposed to engaged and empowered leadership are the “Zero Tolerance” policies that came into fashion in the workplace about 10-15 years ago. These policies are especially egregious offenders when it comes to usurping the abilities that any good leader has because it removes all thought and decision making ability. Which, in reality, isn’t that what we leaders are employed to do? Evaluate situations and make tough decisions based on the situation, circumstances, and context?
Zero Tolerance policies that our Human Resources brethren have lovingly crafted and tucked neatly away into their Policy binders remove all thought, rationale, and circumstance from a situation. Turning an otherwise bright, high-functioning adult into a policy-zombie. A world that is normally rich with color, vibrant with circumstances and fluctuating situations becomes a dull, black-and-white picture that’s one-dimensional. A world like that doesn’t give an exceptional leader or manager the ability to turn a bad situation into a “teachable moment” or craft a cunning solution that may be mutually beneficial.
It reduces people, their lives, and their situations to binary switches. We’re either on or off. I don’t know about you but my life is rarely ever that simple. I have good and bad moments on good and bad days of good and bad weeks in good and bad months. Life is a rocky road, sadly not nearly as delicious as the ice cream, and Zero Tolerance policies want to reduce it down to Vanilla or Chocolate. Not even a Neapolitan.
The harmfulness of these policies isn’t restricted to the workplace, either. Our children suffer under these insufferable, intolerant, and unthinking policies as well. I’m sure we’ve all heard the horror stories of kids bringing plastic knives to school and being expelled or suspended for violating the school’s “Zero Tolerance” policy on weapons at school. As leaders, managers, and the driving forces for change in our organizations that we are - we can do better.
We deserve the option to analyze a situation for what it is and think about how best to fix it. If you have an employee that fails a drug test, is the best solution really to just automatically fire them? If there is a case of harassment, are we really content to give no thought to what’s going on and just let the person go? People make poor decisions every day. Our lives are filled with them; failure is how we learn. Watch a child learn if you don’t believe that - success isn’t what teaches them, it’s failing. It’s falling over 100 times, getting back up, and a loving, guiding hand that teaches them to walk.
Throwing someone away without a thought or care, as Zero Tolerance policies would have us do, isn’t helping the person. In reality, it isn’t helping us, as leaders, either. It isn’t giving us the chance to flex our mental-muscles, our compassion, and work a difficult problem. Sure, we may fail, the situation may deteriorate and things may get worse. But, you know what? We’ll be stronger for it. We’ll be better for it. We’ll have learned something in the process and we’ll be better leaders for it in the end. We may even have helped the struggling individual along the way, too, by showing some compassion and care and not just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I implore you all, as leaders and managers, start questioning those policies that don’t make sense. Demand better. Get your power back from the policy-zombies. Replace the Zero Tolerance with a Policy of Leadership; a policy of common sense and compassion. If we work hard enough – we can make the world make sense again.
Blog Post Authored by:
Wanda Sturm (2016-2017 Chair)
Readers, I want to bring to your attention a two part webinar session we held in July, 2015. The title, Engagement Skills for Quality Professionals, highlighted how we can play a more impactful role in the driving of business results for our organizations, companies and corporations. The author and speaker, Kimberlee Williams, went on to discuss how this in turn increases our Professional Net Worth(TM).
What inspires me the most of about this is the focus on the level of change capability that is required to deliver on those desired business results, plus identifying and discussing the needed skills.
For 26 of my professional years, I have in some way been involved with impacting, influencing or leading behavioral change. This has taken place in the oil and gas, financial and technology sectors. I have held leadership, individual contributor, program manager, quality manager and other various roles across these sectors. Each of the roles brought with it some common and some very different aspects. One of the most common aspects was the change involved. The physical change ranged from mergers and acquisitions to team changes in how work was accomplished.
No matter the type of physical change taking place, you are asking people to change their behavior to some extent. I found listening to the webinars and reading the primer to be insightful and filled with great examples. It was a superb way of continuing to refine my skills in change leadership to bring about the desired business results in the midst of chaos. I only wished there was more.
NOW THERE IS MORE!
Human Development & Leadership is fortunate! We are partnering with Kimberlee Williams, Center for STRATEGY REALIZATION, to bring to you Strategic Engagement Skills for Professionals Leading Change. This is an eight (8) week online course led by Ms. Williams aimed at helping you to increase YOUR Professional Net Worth and become a more effective change agent in your organization . Please see the information below to learn more and enroll in this great opportunity!
To learn more, click on the image above or register for one of our upcoming complimentary webinars.
It seems we are driven to determine who is the best of all time in most areas of sport and in many other endeavors as well. In most cases this is simply rhetoric. I’ve yet to see an operational definition of “the best” in any venue. Is it the person who makes the greatest contribution to his team’s success? That would be a bit hard to determine, since there are a number of other players on the team. Is it the person who scores the most points? That would be easier to determine but most would reject it as a measure of the best.
To begin with some specifics, most people these days assert that Michael Jordan was the best basketball player of all time. As an old guy, I have watched most of the players who might be considered in the same breath: Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. My own personal preference would be Magic Johnson. If one looks at statistics for playoffs, the important part of the season in the National Basketball Association (NBA), Magic’s performance is superior. If you take the points that the individual scores and add two points for each assist, meaning the player passed to a team mate who Scored, Magic accounts for more points than Jordan. One could argue that assist should count for more than two points since it helps to engage one’s teammates, but I will settle for two. Finally, Magic was capable of feats that Jordan could not consider. In the 6th game of the 1980 playoff finals against the Philadelphia 76ers the Lakers’ star center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, had a migraine and cannot play. Magic, a point guard, albeit a tall one, played center in the game against the competent center for Philadelphia. Magic’s performance was outstanding and led to an easy win for the Lakers.
But that’s rhetoric; my opinion. Although I am a longtime fan, I don’t qualify as an expert. A person who qualifies perhaps is the greatest living expert (here we go again with the world’s best) is Phil Jackson, probably the most successful coach in history of the NBA. Phil asserted that Michael Jordan was indeed the best player of all time. However, he said that if he were starting a team, the first player he would choose was Bill Russell. His obvious belief was that Russell would contribute more to his team’s success than Michael Jordan could. In my mind Phil is really asserting that Russell was the best player.
While the activity of asserting who is the best is entertaining, it is not particularly useful. It might be useful if we determine clear criteria for what we need by the best, but nobody seems to do that.
An area where determining the best is financially quite important is in the process of professional basketball and football teams drafting new players. The history of early first-round draft picks were flops are quite plentiful as is the history of players who were not even drafted who became hugely successful. Failing in the draft dooms a team for the near term. The ability to choose effectively would be worth a great deal of money to teams. And yet with all their financial resources, many teams are unable to do that. But can it be done? A topic for my next blog.
As an undergraduate at Yale in the early 1960s, my mentor was a Professor of Psychology named Frederick Sheffield. Sheffield had a reputation as one of the most brilliant men the field and one of the leading statisticians in the field. As the years have passed, my appreciation of the man has continued to increase. While during the time that I knew him, he was involved in the study of animal behavior, perhaps his greatest contributions were in the field of social psychology.
During World War II, while he was a graduate student at Yale, he was assigned to a team of psychologists with the task of improving morale. Professor Sheffield told me that these were the best days of his life. When in a war zone he had a uniform with the rank of Colonel. He had a driver and huge resources at his disposal. And he felt his work that he did was important for his country.
The team was headed by Carl Hovland, a Yale Professor and also a brilliant psychologist. When I was at Yale, Professor Hovland had recently passed away at the age of 48. He was spoken of with great reverence in the psychology department. Toward the end of the war the team was tasked with finding the most effective way to persuade the troops that there was still hard work ahead. While Germany had been defeated, it was estimated that it would take as much as two years to defeat Japan.
The team designed two audio messages to persuade the troops: the first message, one-sided, presented only the arguments for a long war. Second message, two-sided, included a brief argument about how the war might be short, though the main point of the message was that the war would be long. Before the messages were deployed, they were tested in a controlled experiment. Eight platoons received the one-sided message, eight platoons received the two-sided message, and eight platoons, the control group, received no message at all. Both the one-sided message and the two-sided message were equally effective. Prior to receiving the message, about 37% of the soldiers believe it would be long. After receiving the message, about 59% of the two experimental groups believed the war would be long, while there was no change in the control group.
What is most interesting is the further analysis of the data. It turned out that for subjects who already believed the war would be long, the one-sided message was most effective. For subjects who believed the world would be short the two-sided message was most effective. Even more important was the interaction with education. For soldiers who had completed high school two-sided message was most effective. For soldiers who had not completed high school one-sided message was most effective.
One theory behind these findings was that when the opposing views were omitted, the audience would rehearse counterarguments while listening to the message. Of course people with more education would have better access to counterarguments and people initially opposed to the persuasive message would have counterarguments fresh in their mind. Thus these groups would be most likely to rehearse the counterarguments. I know that whenever I hear an aggressive, one-sided argument, I rehearse counterarguments vigorously. And I know that I am more likely to change my opinion when confronted with a more balanced two-sided presentation. When I am in a dialogue with someone who refuses to acknowledge counterarguments, I am very resistant to change.
The fact that this research is still influential over 60 years later is amazing. According to prominent scientist Roger Shepard in the Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences (only 50 years later): (http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/biomems/chovland.html)
Following Hovland's death, his attitude change program was characterized as "the largest single contribution [to the field of social communication] any man has made (Schramm, 1963, p. 5). Over thirty years later, it was still deemed "the biggest single force within psychology's communication-relevant attitude-change movement" (McGuire, 1996, p. 43), and as "the gold standard for research in social psychology" (Timothy Brock, personal communication of May 20, 1997). Zimbardo has suggested that the secret of the success of this program lay in Hovland's unique conceptual ability to decompose the complex relations between persuasive communications and attitude change in a way that rendered them susceptible to controlled laboratory experiments. Moreover, by "establishing a structural-sequential mode of the input-mediating-output variables and processes involved, Hovland anticipated the later information processing approach that proved so valuable in cognitive psychology (Zimbardo, personal communication of June 9, 1997).
Hovland, C. I., A. A. Lumsdaine, and F. D. Sheffield (1965). Experiments on Mass Communication. New York: Wiley.
Do Human Development and Leadership really go together? Or are they diverse topics, joined together by an imperfect process? What is the focus of our Division? Consider the Primers Produced by the Division over the past three years: 1. Chaos and Complexity, 2. Employee Engagement, 3. Measuring Performance, 4. Leading Through Change, 5.The Uplifting Power of Play, 6. Personal Well-Being, and 7. Deming’s Profound Knowledge for Leadership. (The last four are currently in the production process) The Chaos and Complexity was written to apply to leadership. Only the 5 and 6 are clearly in the direction of human development.
Consider the vision of the Division: Being the community of choice for everyone by making human potential a global priority, an organizational and personal imperative. This seems to be about human development, not leadership.
The Division’s mission also seems to focus on human development: Enrich the personal and professional lives of our membership and the global community to triumph over current and future challenges.
What goes unstated, I believe, is that it is the opinion of the leaders of the Division, past and present, that effective leadership requires a developed person. That is certainly my opinion. In fact, I feel the division should focus more of its education on development. After all, advice on leadership would be wasted on undeveloped individuals. Moreover, the methodology of effective leadership is hugely diverse.
Of course, the next question is, what do we mean by development? In my opinion, it includes what has long been referred to as a liberal education. The American Association for the Advancement of Science[i] describes a liberal education in this way: "Ideally, a liberal education produces persons who are open-minded and free from provincialism, dogma, preconception, and ideology; conscious of their opinions and judgments; reflective of their actions; and aware of their place in the social and natural worlds. Liberally educated people are skeptical of their own traditions; they are trained to think for themselves rather than conform to higher authorities. It also cultivates "active citizenship" through … community service, internships, research, and study abroad[ii]. ‘
Open-mindedness; freedom from provincialism, dogma, preconception, and ideology; consciousness of one’s opinions and judgments; reflective of ones actions; and awareness of ones place in the social and natural worlds are all elements that define good leadership. To these I would add certain branches of technical knowledge, what Deming referred to as profound knowledge: knowledge of variation, systems, psychology, and the theory of knowledge.
This, in fact, could define the goals of the Division' curriculum. Of course, that is only the opinion of one person. We are beginning to seriously engage in this discussion, however, so I submit this for a start.
Brooks Carder, PhD
[i] The AAAS is a very important organization and the publisher of the World’s most important scientific journal, Science.