Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for November, 2008

Value your own “light bulb”

I was having a conversation recently with a friend who is joining a not-for-profit board and we were discussing the role of a new board member. I mentioned that I think it’s important to value your own light bulb regardless of your tenure on a board or on a team. You know, when an idea comes to mind, offer it! Some newer board members—or new managers or employees—may hesitate to offer ideas or creative strategies that come to mind, because they doubt their depth or experience, compared to that of their colleagues. However, if you’re a new addition to the team, and an idea comes to mind and you share it, it may offer a fresh perspective or idea that is most needed and valued. At the very least, your idea may offer a springboard for further exploration towards alternative solutions.

In my experience, it’s the collaboration between the seasoned and newer perspectives that generates the most creative results. So the next time you feel that light bulb going on, be sure to shine it on the table for others to see. And if you’re leading a team, you may want to encourage your employees to do the same.

Personal attributes trump business acumen

Many times over the years—when facilitating management or leadership workshops—I’ve asked participants to engage in an exercise where I ask them to reflect on a current or past direct manager whom they see or remember as an awesome manager and/or leader, who motivated them to work at their best. Once they have the person in mind, I ask them to list any strengths, attributes or qualities that they remember this individual possessing. Here are some of the attributes that I repeatedly see listed: high integrity, positive attitude, trustworthy, great listener, strong presence, ability to engage others, motivating, shares a clear vision, empowering, praises work well done, flexible, sets clear expectations, gives credit where credit is due, admits mistakes, honest, makes people accountable, a great mentor.

In my experience, without fail, up to 98% of the qualities mentioned in these exercises have nothing to do with the individual’s business acumen or technical skills. This reminds us of how important our communication and people skills are to our, and to our team’s, ability to be successful.