Saturday, September 24, 2011

Newly Etched in Stone - Be Humble

I’m changing my Quiet Leader commandments.  Fortunately these commandments are not hosted on stone tablets but I do consider these principles seriously.   They go to the core of who I try to be.

The new commandment is “Be humble.”

Recently, I encountered the Humility Imperative.  I started reading the submissions of some of my favorite people on the blogosphere. I not only discovered the site, I was consumed by it.

Here are two examples from the site  that influenced me to change the commandments.

“my boss and other officials took all the credit”

The post title caught my attention in the context of a recent company event.  The post by M.D. Haddad resonated with me.   As leaders we need to remember to give credit where credit is due.  We have to dig deep to ensure that everyone gets credit.  Just like the credits at the end of the movie that recognize the best boy, gaffer, key grip, caterer, and the administrative assistant. 

At a quarterly global town hall meeting at my work this week, a regional executive was announcing a global initiative that members of my team worked on.  The phrase “worked on” does no justice to the effort.  Because the project was managed from our Asia Pacific office, the project effort included evening and early morning conference calls.  An aggressive timeline also required my team members put in long hours, several times late into the evening and early morning so that data fixes would be ready for the Asia Pacific development team.  My team did the work of the best boys, gaffers, and key grips.  They helped make it happen.

However, in the global town hall meeting, no one below a director level was recognized for their effort.  There were pictures, accolades, stand up introductions and more.  But in the end, there was no mention of the best boys, gaffers, key grips, and caterers.  I noted the omission as a good lesson in leadership.  Remember to give credit everywhere that credit is due.

(This is a personal call out to Jason, Dave, and Jill for their work as best boy, gaffer, and key grip.  Give credit where credit is due.)

On the Humility Imperative site, an Abraham Lincoln quote caught my attention.
The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.
I love a great list and the quote’s accompanying post by Angel Cirrone Smith got me thinking about life and how I should position myself in this quickly changing world. A couple of favorites:
  • Appreciate & respect differences in others. This is what makes us all unique.
  • Not every person you meet is going to like you.
  • Live each day by trying to put a smile on at least one person’s face.
Angel’s list is simple and insightful.  A good lesson in humility.

I recommend the  Humility Imperative site.  I also took the oath.  It drove me to change my Quiet Leader Commandments after two years.

Thanks for reading. Lead with humility.  Take the humility oath.  Make the world a better place.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gratitude is Powerful and Contagious

Gratitude is a powerful attitude. 
thank you note for every language
I have written about gratitude  many times.  You can review summaries of three Lead Quietly gratitude posts below.

“Show Gratitude” is also Quiet Leader Commandment #7.   It is an important leadership tenet.

But it takes discipline. When the stress of our situation causes us to work with our heads down and a focus on our mission, it is easy to forget.  As is often quoted: "We are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the journey, especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way." - Source Unknown

This past week, two of my colleagues, Jason and Keith, provided me with two  lessons and a reminder about the power of gratitude.  I don’t have to share details other then that their dialogue reminded me of the power of gratitude, and,

  1. You double or triple the impact if you go out of your way to deliver the message.
  2. It is hard to receive thanks without passing it back.  It’s contagious.  

Here is a quick summary of some of my previous writing on the topic as a further reminder of the power of gratitude.

Building Community:  Thank you as a way of leading

from the Lead Quietly Archives

Gratitude is an easy and remarkably powerful step in building the type of community that is essential for successful teams. As I have written before, "Building community is hard. However, it is easy to start quietly and simply with thanks and smiles.

First, I'd invite everyone to read the wonderful work of Rosa Say. I have employed Rosa's insight several times in the past including, 12 Rules for Leadership and It's All About Learning.
This week, her Managing with Aloha Coaching blog introduced me to the concept of "mahalo" which means thankful living. The most striking suggestion for a quiet leader is,

Say “thank you” often; speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, humility and fullness.

Transformational Gratitude

from the Lead Quietly Archives

Gratitude is transformational. Russell Bishop writes this past week on the Huffington Post that gratitude is a key to personal transformation. I'd like to share two of Bishop's thoughts and encourage you to read the full post.
Bishop writes, "given the stressful times in which we live and the apparent instability, unreliability, and fear wracked nature of our social and economic systems, it seems to me that the counterintuitive notion of Gratitude is needed right here, right now, for each and every one of us."
He goes on to write beautifully about the transformational force of gratitude.

Gratitude is a kind of seed that survives even the most devastating of circumstances, one that can germinate with the slightest amount of care. And when the gratitude seed germinates, the grateful typically experience an expansion of well being - emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
The seed typically sprouts in small ways, and yet the observant amongst us will notice that the tiniest sprout slowly grows into something more substantial. Gratitude is not just a seed, but also a form of nourishment that enables us to find our way out of difficult circumstances, to find choices that others might miss, and to craft an improved life experience.

This is a powerful sentiment for a simple concept.

Practice Gratitude - Increase Happiness, It's Official

from the Lead Quietly Archives

The research data is in. Gratitude builds community and increases happiness.
I have written in earlier posts that a simple thank you does much to build community. In Build Community - Start simply with smiles and thanks, I quoted Carmine Coyote who wrote at Slow Leadership, that gratitude is "major constituent in the glue that holds together groups of all sizes, from a few friends to society as a whole."

Leaders can use thanks and gratitude to start building a community of leaders.
The value and effect of gratitude was cemented in "Practicing Gratitude Can Increase Happiness by 25%" on the PsyBlog. The post cites the work of Dr. Robert A Emmons of the University of California, Davis in his book, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. In studies referenced in the book, Emmons found that people who focused on gratitude felt fully 25% happier and more optimistic about the future.

Additional research by Emmons and Dr Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami discovered that the benefits of gratitude extended to a variety of emotional, interpersonal and life gains.

Thanks to my colleagues for the lesson and reminder. 

Thanks for reading.  Lead quietly and don’t forget gratitude.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Tribute to Trey Pennington - Be-Attitudes for a New Millennium

Today, I was saddened by the news of the passing of Trey Pennington.   I am reaching back into my archives in tribute to his life and great contribution. Please read below.

Today, his suicide death reminds us that depression can take on many forms and impacts, even in someone with a great public persona.  An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from major depression.  It is an illness that must be treated and treated seriously.

Today, I was touched by a number of tributes to Trey.  The bravest was perhaps the words of Bridget Pilloud  who wrote today, The Difference between Trey Pennington and Me.  Please read it for insight into depression.

My Tribute to Trey Pennington.  RIP......

Originally Posted April 11, 2010:
I love a concise list that can provide insight, a call to action, or a quick reminder. I have noted this before in For the love of learning, you gotta love a good list. My Quiet Leader Commandments is one of my contributions.
In a similar vein, fellow AOC3 collaborator, Trey Pennington provides a great list of guiding principles for leaders. He titled his list, Be-Attitudes for a New Millenium. I discovered this great list as part of my AOC3 Learn Quest , my personal mission to learn from each of the contributors to the book Age of Conversation 3 that will be available soon.
Here are Trey's Be-Attitudes:

The Be-Attitudes for a New Millenium

Be alert: You may either be self-centered or alert.
Be quiet: When you’re quiet, you can listen.
Be available: yep, this is a 24/7 world and banker’s hours went away as an acceptable measure of availability a long time ago.
Be visible: it means having a sufficient presence wherever “your people” might be hanging out they know you’re there when they need you.
Be responsive: If your people” ask you a question, give them an answer.
Be generous: the days of protecting your turf are long gone.
Be helpful: Help people solve their problems; good things will happen.
Be quiet: quietness is linked to humility is linked to greatness.
Please read the full descriptons at The post's comments are also enlightening.
In summary, I appreciate the entire list but especially like the extra attention given to the call to "Be Quiet."
Trey links quietness to humility and reminds us of the great and sustainable accomplishment of those who changed the word quietly in contrast to the loud ones who have left us with messes. (think about our current economic state)
Additionally Trey posits, "When you’re quiet, you can listen." Listening is a key element of building community, learning, balance and building vision.
I'm honored for the opportunity to collaborate with Trey Pennington and others. My AOC3 Learn Quest challenge is my mission to explore the work of every co-collaborator of the Age of Conversation 3. I am humbled to be a part of this great group of writers and thinkers. They offer so much to learn and explore. You can follow my progress on my AOC3 Dashboard. The book will be available soon. Proceeds to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation
Enjoy, keep meshing up and lead quietly.