Comfort and joy

Over the last few weeks, our offices at work have undergone some renovations, including removal of the 25-year-old wall coverings, painting, general cleaning and rearranging of the furniture. The good news is that I get a new office cubicle with more space and a bit more privacy, but the downside has been working in the interim in temporary quarters, jammed into a small room with several of my co-workers. (But let me be clear that my co-workers are not a downside – I happen to work with a great team that gets along very well.)

During the process, the painters had their obligatory boom-box going in the next room. Ordinarily you’d hear rock and roll or country music, but they usually had the radio tuned to the station playing Christmas music. I thought “oh brother, here come the same twelve Christmas songs over and over” and spent the rest of the day with echoes of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You rattling in my head. Six weeks of that, I told myself, is more miserable than waiting for the groundhog’s prediction to come true.

But then it occurred to me why we embrace the holiday season. Continue reading “Comfort and joy”

Say more by saying less

I’m sure you’ve been in many meetings where the chairperson or meeting facilitator does most of the talking. There’s the discussion of business, summary of past activity and general announcements. Many times, people are hesitant to speak up, so the chair just fills in the quiet spaces.

If you’re a chairperson, you know the feeling too. You begin to wonder why others don’t have anything to say. Sure, you can count on the secretary and treasurer to deliver prepared reports. You probably even have one or two talkative committee members who can go on and on.

The leader who does most of the talking can be an asset in certain situations, but to get the ideas flowing and the brains storming, try being quiet for a change. Continue reading “Say more by saying less”

Who’s to blame when communication fails?

Have you, or your Scouts, ever played the game of Telephone? A group forms a circle, and the first person thinks of a message. He whispers it to the second person, and the second to the third, and so on, until it reaches the last person. The first person says his original message, and the last person repeats what he heard – usually hilariously different from the way it started. It’s a great illustration in the value of clear, accurate communication.

The need to get a message across clearly is important for any team to function effectively. Whether it’s a patrol, a unit committee or a Key 3 relationship, being on the same page is essential to successful group effort, and communication is the key. Failure of the message recipient to understand what they’re being told can cause the collapse of cross-functionality.

Who is responsible for clear communication? Continue reading “Who’s to blame when communication fails?”

For best results, ask better questions

Leadership development is one of Scouting’s most important effects on its members. Ask anyone who was a Scout as a youth and they’ll probably tell you that in addition to learning how to camp, hike and respect the outdoors, one of the most important takeaways is that it helped them become a better leader.

What defines a leader? Reams have been written on the subject, but one of the best definitions comes from an item that surfaced in the early 1930s comparing a boss to a leader. The one we probably hear most often is A boss says “go” – a leader says “let’s go”. 

Among the list of comparisons are two that help to define the relationship between the leader and the led: Continue reading “For best results, ask better questions”

Avoiding the expert mountain

I remember when I was about six or seven years old and was first learning to ride a bicycle. I had training wheels on my two-wheeler for what seemed like forever. One day, I noticed that the training wheels weren’t touching the ground as I rode, so I asked my dad to take them off. Riding down the sidewalk, I felt empowered that I had learned a new skill and felt that I had mastered riding a big-boy bike.

Until I rounded the first corner, and the wheels slipped out from under me. Boom! Down I went.

I wasn’t such an expert, after all.

Life is like that. We get a taste of the knowledge we seek, and we learn a bit more, and a bit more, and it starts to come to us. Continue reading “Avoiding the expert mountain”