Of all of the monsters lurking in the dark and keeping us from moving forward or onward to new career adventures, fear is the most potent. Kicking fear to the curb through deliberate action is key to overcoming the gravitational pull it exerts on our lives and careers.
History is filled with examples where a decision at a moment-in-time changed the outcome. As we commemorate the courage of those who participated in the D-Day Invasion in World War II, I look at Eisenhower's decision that day and another fateful decision 80-years earlier that changed the course of a nation. Our workplace decisions aren't on the same scale, yet, the big decisions at a moment in time do change the fate of organizations. What can we learn from history here?
Anyone who has invested time in renovating an older home understands surprises and conundrums emerge every time a wall or ceiling is breached. There are parallels in the world of management where the twists and turns of the marketplace demand change. Great tradespeople and great managers find a way through wicked problems using creativity and critical thinking. Here are seven lessons I was reminded of during a recent renovation project.
How many conversations at work have you participated in or observed that went nowhere? Chances are, you can think of more than a few. The best workplace communicators understand these situations offer ripe opportunities to level-up discussion quality and improve outcomes. Here are ideas to help you do the same in your workplace:
The conversations I genuinely worry about are the ones that aren’t taking place. As a leader, just thinking about what’s not getting talked about should scare the daylights out of you.
The struggle over the big decisions is the inherent ambiguity. The unknowns are overwhelming. Fear of getting it wrong floods our minds and our brains struggle for traction in the muck. Nonetheless, these are the times when you have to stand up and cut through the fog of ambiguity.
There's ample science to conclude that we're lousy at multi-tasking and alternatively, that taking time to reflect improves our self-efficacy and ability to learn. Unfortunately, most of us work in and contribute to a perpetual tornado of activities in our daily lives. It's imperative for your well-being and effectiveness to find opportunities to simply pause and think deeply.
Some individuals are thrust on to a big stage and summon the strength to lead others through perilous times. For the rest of us, we are faced with almost daily opportunities to step-up and lead on the small stage. Some look the other way and others summon the strength from somewhere inside themselves to do the right thing.
For individuals involved in the world of design and design thinking, reframing vexing problems is a standard part of the process. For the rest of us, a bit of design thinking focused on reframing is invaluable in our daily labors. Here are some ideas to help you jump-start your reframing activities in pursuit of better solutions in the workplace:
We spend a great deal of time in our organizations striving to reduce risk and uncertainty. For some tasks that's possible, but for the big issues of strategies and market forces, it's impossible to bend behaviors and responses to fit our scripts. Effective leaders understand they must build teams that recognize uncertainty as opportunity and live to excel in those moments.