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.

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!

Engaging HR in the community

Trying to get those HR ‘types’ to engage with your community program?  Feeling frustrated as they are always too busy with annual review, performance planning, executive meetings or leadership programs?  Tired of feeling left out if you don’t fit into those activities or timeframes?  I personally have worked with HR organizations that have traditional cycles that are like clockwork.  They are hard wired into their brains indeed.  It can feel hopeless if you need their connector or link to a formalized Employee Resource Group if you are launching, for example a Women in Leadership Network.  If they are too busy working on the Executive Bonus, don’t fret.  Here are some lessons learned that you may find helpful in your journey with HR.

1.)     Know the HR program calendar and cadence.  What I mean by this is that you ask someone in that organization directly that question or you infer this through the calendar and programmatic activities that you are aware they work on, such as annual holidays, compensation and benefits, end of year bonus, review and new leadership programs.  Just to name a few.

2.)    Clarify their KPI and CSFs.  It’s important to understand what key performance indicators and critical success factors are for their organization.    These will be important nuances and openings for you to align with in the future.

3.)    Build relationships.  If you have been at your company for a zillion years or just don’t respect HR.  Think again, they have a very tall order to get you paid, ensure you have benefits, incentive programs, training and a myriad of other areas in their portfolio.  They are actually way busier than you could ever imagine.  So, start to have empathy and look to understand all the facets of work they do.  For example, if you are in IT and love analytics.  Why not volunteer to attend one of their Lunch and Learns or IT meetings to help them define key data elements and challenges.  Perhaps you could simply ask someone in the department to lunch and ask questions about what keep them up at night.  Their top programs.  Listen and learn.

4.)    Ask questions.  Taking someone out to lunch is brilliant so that you can ask questions either you wonder about that may be tactical or strategic.  Either way, they generally are open to this and will either point you to a lunch or learn event, an open door event or perhaps another person better skilled to answer your query.  Don’t get frustrated, just keep opening doors.  Eventually you will get your answer and learn about your organizational culture and structure more intimately along the way.

5.)    Provide an Offer.  No we aren’t talking about making an offer on a house, what I mean is that after all your ‘listening’ to understand the breadth of their portfolio and challenges, you may hear they have a need to identify a way to get our a program message through an online community.  Now we are talking.  You could offer to either setup the community, be a core team member, leader or better yet, just a facilitator.  Perhaps you could even do the business analysis for a site migration.  Who knows, but there is likely a need for your passion and competencies for communities hitching up with HR.  It just may not be the linear path you originally envisioned.

6.)    Keep an open mind.  This is why it’s so important to suspend judgment and keep an open mind.  I know most of us in the community business are fast talking, fast paced balls of passion.  But there is purpose in stepping back to listen, learn, be strategic, let our minds wander, wait and offer with an eye to being open to new possibilities.  This will only happen if we sit quietly and wait.  Our timeframe may be urgent, but there are other organizations that are building blocks to running the larger business so we must stop and think about not pouring more sugar into the pot, but rather consider a slow teaspoon of sugar in the different batches we cook.

7.)    Show Empathy.  This is an absolute must in our field and is critical to social business as Bill Cripe outlines in this article.

8.)    Feedback.  The only way we evolve is to provide it in small doses.  Be thoughtful in presenting the feedback, consider using one of many feedback methodologies, but don’t settle on not sharing your input.  It’s just not worth it to NOT give it.  We don’t evolve if we don’t give it.

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.

People ARE the experience

Secret Ingredient

In talking with Nancy Long, Chief HR Officer at Hitatchi Data Systems, One of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For recently, not only did I get goose bumps,  but found myself going on a journey with her.  Think global amusement park meets data solutions.  Wow, her inspiration is contagious and exhilarating.  Yet I also found it quite humble in that she has an earnest commitment to people as the base ingredient for her success in the people business.

As a foodie, I approach conversations thinking about the ‘secret sauce’.  What she shared with me was that over her career her secret ingredient is/are:  PEOPLE.  People are paramount for this tireless leader in the PEOPLE business who truly embodies this guiding principle.  Wow!  She is onto something to create recipes using PEOPLE in every dish.  She has talent at the forefront of the portfolio in her strategies and how she leads organizations who create winning cultures.  Nancy shared, “our leadership throughout HDS at all levels has done an amazing job rallying, supporting and motivating our people.  We have won several pieces of recognition, locally and globally.  Last year we won “most clued in leadership team in Silicon Valley” which was a HUGE accolade for us!

So how ‘secret’ is this ingredient I asked myself?  Well, after searching Google , I found over 12,590,000,000 results and over 6,839 results when searching Harvard Business Review .  The concept of people isn’t a secret. It’s the ‘art’ of creating the winning cultures that seem to be difficult to realize.  Nancy is like many great collaborative artists, she shares her masterpieces, she invites us to learn from her and receive sustenance we yearn for in the workplace.

In summary, I believe we can all learn from this extraordinary leader to embody the PEOPLE business in every sense of the word.  We must build people talent acquisition strategies that are created by the people, for the people and with the people.  We must use the P ingredient in all our creations, whether they are pastries, pipelines or partnerships.  Indeed this thrilling ride is something you can experience.  All it requires is laser focus on PEOPLE.

Gratitude as part of a culture

Today on Thanksgiving, it is a day of reflection for many people in the United States, which is always something I enjoy experiencing.  Yet, I’m often left wondering why it cannot be a ritual that we hold on to firmly, as if it were secular, a food staple or a ritual. 

Many people, groups and organizations suffer through this notion of building a culture of gratitude, a culture of giving that fosters knowledge sharing.  To this end, we need to be thinking as leaders about how we hire, who we hire, what we look for in key attributes, as well as our internal people programs, processes and technologies.  We have to do the necessary hard work to partner with HR, IT, Business Units, Geographies and to walk the talk around what that means.  We need to walk the talk, show them the possibilities if we are to share, give and demonstrate gratitude in an authentic way so that people can realize new possibilities.  It may sound simple, but it’s not.  Many organizations have micro cultures, physical cultures, sub cultures, you name it.   Therefore, I wanted to share a few tips that perhaps can become seeds for your own knowledge garden.

1.)     Define key behavior

2.)    Differentiate by level, function and geography

3.)    Ensure there is one key core collaborative, social or KM competency

4.)    Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivators – think about this as you define remuneration

5.)    Tie into the Performance Management Programs

6.)    Become a butterfly that pollinates KM  & Community concepts across the globe

7.)    Walk the Talk

8.)    Build into the talent identification and sourcing process

9.)    Empower leaders to walk the talk

10.)   Revisit, refine and be grateful

Imagine if we were programmed to spend time being grateful as if it were a nutritional requirement how different our day to day lives could be?