Social Leaders must invite change, ambiguity and resiliency

HBR published on their blog an outstanding article titled, “This is Your Brain on Organizational Change” that inspired me as a coach as it relates to the ‘human resistance to change’ that is being discussed in New York this week called the NeuroLeadership Summit.

I appreciate that Walter’s blog post and mention of the SCARF model and I have experienced in countless organizations the need for a common understanding of what could enable them to realize new potential as ‘leaders/managers’.

Countless organizations continue to use high potential frameworks recognize and reward individuals that don’t embody these constructs.  I believe the leaders in People/HR and Learning along with partners in Talent Management have an opportunity to be courageous with new models, test them out and hold ourselves accountable to embody new possibilities for the 21stcentury workplace dynamics.  What is the worse that could happen?  An effort fails? Well, if we continue to work in a paradigm that is proven to not work, we have arrived already to that destination.  So what do we have to lose?

Foodie Art

I see it as a chance to invite change like this glorious image of a sunglasses soaked in milk chocolate.  With all the richness ambiguity offers plus a dash of resiliency, now there is a tasty dish we courageous leaders should order up now.

I love the idea to start by breaking things down into something people can digest, like the 4 domains the NeuroLeadership Institute highlighted around:

  • Decision making and problem solving
  • Emotion regulation
  • Collaboration
  • Facilitating change

As a change agent, facilitator and coach, I thought many of you would appreciate need to focus in these areas as we plunge into these unchartered waters and learn together, so please, do share your learning’s and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Matterhorn of Significance

It’s a great summit we aspire to ascend in a lifetime.  Finding peace, understanding our purpose or our significance in this short timeframe in which we inhabit this planet.   Countless individuals struggle around their definition of success.  Fighting to gain spotlight, to feel worthy, to realize legitimacy, or perhaps simply to not be forgotten.  These are questions I had to ask Terri Casady.  She is someone with presence, someone who clearly embodies resilience and resolve.  She embodies characteristics that are laudable in our leadership society.  I was mesmerized by her mind and journey, so when I asked this fearless woman in leadership about her ‘mojo’ she was quick to share her recipe.

Terri has struggled with the construct personally.  In a way none of us ever want to struggle.  Her son died when he was only 20 years old.  She fought her way out of grief and has since dedicated her life journey to invest in others, ensuring they feel significant and recognizing that it’s about being in the back light that really matters.

1.)    Find ways to allow people to be their best

2.)    Guide, open doors and introduce people to your personal networks

3.)    Transfer your knowledge through teaching, modeling and enabling

4.)    Advocate on behalf of someone doing the right thing, tell their story, lift them up

5.)    Go with your intuition

6.)    Grant trust

7.)    Take risks

8.)    Be courageous

9.)    Live without fear

10.) Lead and live with integrity

Did you feel those goose bumps?  Well I did, right up my arm.  I was honored that she shared her tree of life story and personal credo.  These guiding principles are appropriate as we enter autumn.  Whether we change leaves, colors or behavior, we need to remember the importance of doing what is right when no one is looking, because that after all is realizing significance.

Learning rooted in outdoor science

Michael Ismari is a man all about the roots in every sense of the word.  He spends his time thinking about sustainability, education and deepening roots figuratively and literally.  He is fastidious in how he approaches science as he connects students through experiential learning in the real world.  In fact, what started out as a garden club has taken off so quickly, they can’t keep up with the wiki page the students created to compliment the program a few years ago.  Simply put, they are too busy learning in real spaces which have replaced any time spent in cyberspaces.

Michael like many tireless leaders has spent time thinking about his practice area, his network in order to identify new possibilities through conversations and a thoughtful grant application process.  The seeds he is sowing extend far beyond this school program, but rather serves as a model for other organizations to engage in new approaches to outdoor science.  In fact, he won the award for Excellence in Environmental Education.

He is opening hearts and minds for our inner city youth who can now do more than just read text books to learn about seeds, roots and the true meaning of ‘taking hold’.  Instead, he is instilling the countless value lessons that use the real world laboratories involving dirt, hard work, nurturing, recycling and the importance of resilience as important attributes for success in life.  Now that is practical science we can all rally around.

It’s a story of schools supporting schools, which is commonplace in tight knit communities such as the Reno Tahoe Area school called Smithridge Elementary, which is right across the street from Pine Junior High School.  A mutually beneficial program that resulted in a $12,000 grant from the CSA to build a school garden initially.  Today this Outdoor Science Learning Center has gained recognition through being awarded the distinguished DRI Environmental Award.  Currently the Pine Garden is involved with the Northern Nevada Food Bank and the Team-Up 21st Century Learning Program to produce a fundraiser to insure school garden sustainability.   In fact, the Edible Classroom at the Washoe County School District, Washoe County School District Team Up, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, UNR 4-H Mentoring and the Food Bank are allowing kids to learn great life lessons and have fun way in a delicious way through the program.  Also, check out their upcoming event at La Vecchia at:  http://goo.gl/6tKCF.  Thank you.

Social Leadership Core Competency – Diplomacy

Spicy Green Salsa
Spicy Green Salsa

Social Leadership is not a new term, rather something we have been doing for years in diplomacy.  We look for ways to create a connection, find a common ground, or thread.  Our desire for social connectivity has been constant over the years, yet now we have a myriad of channels we can harness to amplify, highlight or extend engagement through a core social leadership competency, diplomacy.

How do our educational programs resemble these new trends?   Just wondering out loud how we are increasing the investment in our diplomacy, negotiation, and conflict management?

Basic skills we think when we think about entrepreneurs, leaders and diplomats.  This noble notion of finding common ground is something that we can do as community managers, social artists and marketers.   I don’t mean finding a way to sell or push more rhetoric, rather find a discussion that allows you as an individual to drop into the conversation and connect.  It’s just that simple.  Seek relatedness around a passion whether playing tennis, saving sea turtles, or a joint love for fish tacos.

It really does matter in conversations if we can discuss something of interest to both parties in an authentic manner.  We need to use our active listening, recollection and connectedness skills which cultivate social relationships based on trust, equality and reciprocity.

Nothing like a fiery green salsa as the metaphor for social acumen education programs.

Working with Fear in Community Conversations

Spice it up!

I’m sure you have worked with someone who is resource protective, they operate out of fear or perhaps they just love a good helping of spice in life, like these gorgeous habaneros.  Often times people find themselves working for years to create a position, gain what they perceive to be power, get comfortable or simply don’t want to upset the apple cart.  So the answer is yes, change agents can be perceived as a threat.  However, no need to fret, just be reminded that to enter the conversation, it requires having your tools sharp in your tool belt and ready to get some good use.  Here are a few tips that I’ve seen work in these situations:

  1. Approach the conversation with the business vision as the core
  2. Tie into desired business outcomes
  3. Thank them for the opportunity to talk, share and/or engage
  4. Value them for their role within the organization and their journey
  5. Spend a moment to demonstrate your understanding of their expertise and value to the business
  6. Stand for what you have witnessed and/or experienced and use proposal based language
  7. Share candid and direct feedback to invite new possibilities
  8. Be authentic with your preferred interaction style to honor your needs as an individual
  9. Agree to disagree
  10. Set conversation norms, honor guiding principles and make sure to respect and value one another

Often times in our 140 character and information intense lives we forgot that relationships take a large amount of trust, time and work.  I know, I know, the last thing one wants to do is play with wolves, but often times that can generate the most impactful outcome.  It requires courage, fortitude and resilience.

Placing VALUE in personal networks

Time of the Social Bloom

As a social weaver, I think often about my networks.  I do invest 10% of my time daily into reading, sharing and reaching out via the post office, phone, email, Word Press, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and other networks to cultivate and nurture them.  Certainly this has become a bit more challenging over the years with the complexity of tools, interfaces and compatibility that makes it more challenging.  So what I try to do is the following:

1.)   Create a system and back it up for you to capture all your key and/or tier one connections in your network.

2.)   Flex your documentation muscles as details matter.  Take time to document key information around your networks preferred interaction styles, preferences and likes so that you can remember names of family members, businesses, awards, alma mater, etc.

3.)   Be authentic.  Take the time to send hand written thank you notes, send flowers, books and/or hand deliver a meal.  All of the personal time investment is going away with the speed the internet has given us, so now is the time to re-invest this savings into things that really matter.

4.)   Give a Hoot.  Personally I’ve found that by allowing the twitter application to connect with LI, FB and vice versa, my social networks get these updates and can customize their personal view as needed.  I currently use Hootsuite to aggregate my twitter streams as it has an easy to use platform and a community based approach to support.

5.)   Invest in your purpose per network.  Take the time invest in yourself, your brand or simply hire a social media advisor to partner on your purpose and plan.

Someone recently asked me about the ‘size of my current network’?  I wasn’t sure how to answer this question at first since it really depends, right?  Immediately, I then started to analyze how social has changed the dialogue, the language and currency we use.

This notion of a social net worth is an akin to a financial portfolio.

In the future, perhaps we will be asked when applying for either a loan, credit card or job what the range of a ‘social value’ score that not only help them determine risk, but perhaps what someone views as a social investment.  Truly fascinating how these social analytics are becoming game changers.  As with anything, the public verus private ‘number’ will be something people yearn to acquire.

People, Pull and the Possibilities

With all the new tools that foster serendipity and real time feedback, do we really need HR? 

It will be curious to see how HR organizations use their charter to further contour and shape cultures by partnering with functions within organizations.

I recently shared how I believe that if we in the field of “People” don’t invest more in acceleration versus deceleration in the field of HR, we will work ourselves right out of a job.

The purpose of organizations in some cultures is to connect them to their societies and physical communities.  This is more true today than ever with the powerful social networking tools sprouting up all over the HRIS ecosystem.  Which is why I am advocating HR becoming an accelerator and do hope that they will become an enabler versus something that is slow, behemoth and/or an engine that protects and creates more silos.

The danger is certainly real to use these tools to create more silos and inadvertantly focus less on people.

Recently I saw a demo of an HR vendor who told me they have ‘communities’ and when I asked several foundational questions about what the charter, purpose and cultivation plans?  The sales representative responded with a retort that took me back to the ole’ client/server days where the value was in the ‘push’ information.

Which is why I believethe time is now to think about the People, the PULL and Possibilities.  With the new social tools, we have an opportunity to harness the power of real time peer feedback and accountability all the while fostering candor, transparency and honesty.  If we empower people to be courageous, provide the with processes and tools along with a culture that embraces asking tough questions of one another and management, imagine where could we be?

Lastly, as someone who thinks about social learning and culture, I believe we have a a huge charter ahead of us, with  much work to do especially with the advent of texting and such with our youth.  We must not take our foot off the importance of in person communications that are foundational to healthy feedback, debate and sharing.

The time is now.  So let us POUNCE together!

Social Leadership Retreat

I’m looking forward to the facilitating an exclusive Social Leadership Retreat.  We will be meeting at a private villa nestled in the Sierra Madre Mountains in the Baja peninsula in Mexico.  It is located 80 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific Ocean where the ocean views are spectacular, vegetation supreme and proximate to the sublime culture and art that Todos Santos has to offer, where we will discuss and harness our passion in social artistry and leadership for this two day workshop.

We will share next practices in community moderation and social artistry.  This private villa will serve as our retreat for this focused group of professionals to discuss in great depth both professional and personal challenges and opportunities in our fields.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

8:00 Beach walk and yoga stretches on private Pacific Ocean beach

9:00 Mexican coffee will awaken our senses as we our facilitator leads us through a discovery of what is working and making a difference in our industry, what are opportunities and what we can shed

11:00 Key behaviors in social leadership

12:30 Lunch

14:00 Peer coaching on roof top terrace

15:00 Break- Margaritas, chips and salsa

16:00 Activating diversity and mobile in healthcare communities

17:00 Adjourn drive back to Todos Santos

Sunday 29 July 2012

8:00 Beach walk and yoga stretches on private Pacific Ocean beach

9:00 Role of a community convener, weaver and social artist

10:00 Recap Day 1

10:15 Artist’s Perspective: Keys to unlock social artistry, creation and human connection

11:30 Social artist competencies

12:30 Lunch

14:00 Peer coaching on roof top terrace

15:30 Break- Baja Wine Sampling and literature reading

16:00 Reflections

17:00 Adjourn drive back to Todos Santos

We will be using hash tag #SocialLeadership

Harmony, Mexico & Ju Ju the Pie Lady

Some may say that it’s the sea breeze, or the Mexican Sol, but I think it’s the culture.  It’s a way in you greet one another with interest, with respect and a grateful heart.  It’s about the harmony of conversation, the fundamentals in connecting and ability to interact with selfless intent.

When one thinks of Mexico, the notion of the perfect pie doesn’t come to mind, right?  Perhaps fresh fish, tacos or lime slices. But pies?  Well, one drifts off to musings of ‘grandma’, or so that is what Julie Barrett has found with her customer base at the Village Square of Harmony.

I always enjoy indulging in fresh squeezed limonada, fish tacos and coconut desserts, but what I find even more fulfilling is when I meet a kindred spirit.  An apprentice in their field with a love for the culinary arts, which is why my recent trip to Mexico I found myself fulfilled when speaking with Ju Ju the pie lady.  She is this gorgeous woman from the inside out.  A Midwesterner at heart that understood the metaphor of my book, Peeled Apart to Find the Heart when I explained to her why I was asking so many detailed questions about her pie and happiness making business.  We discussed lard, magic ingredients in her famous pie crusts and the top secret and most coveted Banana Split pie.  After she learned of my cookbook, she told me about her Mango Raspberry Pie that has just the slightest hint of cinnamon.  It’s like with anything, if you take yourself out of your treadmill of life to peel off that layers of over commitment, anger and  fear to simply listen without intention, you may well be on the thrill ride of your life.  One will never know unless they practice this sacred art of listening.

She imparted the love involved in the process of making pies and the art itself, which in some circles is becoming a lost tradition. This is one of the many lessons that I’ve learned through my book talks workshops over the years.  It underscores the paramount importance of taking time to build relationships, document and transfer knowledge of family traditions.  In many parts of the world, it is essential to listen with humility to what others have to say and find ways to make basic connections.  I was reminded why my work is so important as a communications and communities advisor and coach.  It’s the only way forward.   I would like to thank Ju Ju the Pie Lady whose pie’s I’ve never tasted for practicing this art and willingness to share her story, as it provided the sustenance I needed during a Mexican escapade.

Fine Tuning Health Care Practices, One Note at a Time

I was honored to interview Tracy Dufur, MBA who leads Elite Medical Advisors, an organization that is transforming healthcare practice management one note at a time.  Well, not through song per say, but through their creative strategies, leadership and approach to inspire new possibilities, one conversation at a time.  Yes, I had the honor to meet with the lead singer of Looting in Suburbia, who happens to be one of those talented MBAs and pioneer in healthcare industry who is inviting new practices that allow everyone to go home singing.

During my interview with Tracy, she shared with me one of the top issues she has seen with her clients is that healthcare practices aren’t being run by people with business skills.  They can be the top plastic surgeon in their field, but that doesn’t mean they can do the following that kills practice margins:

Healthcare Transformation - Music to our Ears!
  • Vendor management
  • Cost structure control
  • Focus on high quality billing
  • Identifying, hiring and training talent

She recommends that you consider outsourcing billing and vendor management and focus on building a practice, one patient conversation at a time.  “The time is now, she tells us, to engage with new practices, or these businesses will soon be out of business.”

Given the prominence of this subject in the news, I asked Tracy to share some strategies and methods so that we can all evolve together.

Q:   What do you think is working and making a difference today in healthcare practice management?

A:   Although it is basic, strategic planning is the number one thing that differentiates a good practice from a great practice and provides struggling practices with a map to success.  The vast majority of practices with which I come in contact have never been exposed to proper strategic planning.  Without a strategic plan, there is no road map.  You wouldn’t set out on a cross-country trip without mapping out your route, but practice owners and managers routinely run their business (and make no mistake, it is a business) without a written plan or goals.  A practice is only as good as its people.  This includes all ancillary and support staff.  The first and last person a patient sees in most practices is the front office staff.  If your staff doesn’t understand how their job fits into the overall success of the organization, what the organization goals are for the year, or even why the practice exits then your staff is simply showing up.  The overall practice should have an in-depth plan and then each department should complete a scaled down version with their department goals.  This ensures that everyone in the practice is moving in the same direction.  A simple model that I like to use when introducing practices to strategic planning is the following:

  • Vision:  Where We Will Be…
    • A description of a future state that embodies the values of the practice, its highest ideas, and hopes for achievement at a future time.
  • Mission: Why We Exist…
    • A statement that covers why the practice exists; what it does; whom it serves; what products and services it provides.
  • Goals:  What Will Get Us There…?
    • Achievements and/or initiatives for major areas of the practice that enable the future Vision to be achieved, while fulfilling the Mission.
  • Objectives:  Major Steps We Will Take…
    • Intended results for each goal that is specific and measureable.  Any one goal may have multiple objectives required to be fully reached.  This is a way of measuring progress toward the goals.
  • Strategies:  How We Will Go About Doing This…
    • A series of activities selected to enable the organization to meet its objectives.  Strategies are very specific.  They deal with the “How”.
  • Tactics (Tasks): Who Will Do What by When…?
    • Specific items to be completed in the near term.
  • Roles:  Ownership of Tasks…
    • The ownership of results.  A collection of “to dos” assigned to each person in the organization, which support the goals and objectives.
  • Relationships:  People Working Toward a Common Goal
  • This is the working level, where the organization’s strategic direction is practiced daily.  This involves the alliances between organization doctors, members, peers, directors, consultants, patients, vendors, regulators, etc.  It is the foundation for all efforts of the organization, which in the end; points back to the patient as the primary focus.

Q:  What do you think we should drop altogether as a practice?

A:  Excuses!  There are always going to be compliance and regulatory changes.  Every industry must work with these issues.  There are always threats and opportunities.  The key is to build on your strengths, identify your challenges and stay one step ahead by anticipating what is coming down the road.  If your receivables are out of line, if your reimbursements are falling, if fewer patients are coming through the door change your course of action.  You would not continue the same treatment on a patient if it wasn’t working, so don’t do it with your business.

Q:  What could make a difference but isn’t today in healthcare practice management?

A:  It is impossible to do everything well in an industry that is in flux and highly regulated.  Practice Managers must consider outsourcing.  Spend your time driving the business strategically not focusing on the tiny details.  There aren’t enough hours in the day and you will definitely miss something.  Surround yourself with vendors that have a proven track record in their core competency.  Learn to look at the big picture and manage to the numbers.  Keep your team focused on how they impact the Vision, Mission and Purpose of the organization.  Outline metrics and hold employees and vendors accountable.  This will allow you to loosen your grip a little, which in the end will give you more control, not less control.

Similar to other community art, it’s a great piece of music, it requires the entire band to come together to create the final cut.  No different in healthcare practices.  You need a composer, skilled musicians and management.