We make goals for our projects – key performance indicators – and we measure our performance by those goals. They may be quantitative or qualitative. However, projects aren’t the only type of work that have goals; meetings also have goals. Questions to ask yourself when you go into a meeting, whether or not you are the person running the meeting, and whether or not it is a group gathering or one-on-one:
- What is this meeting meant to achieve?
- What are my personal objectives for this meeting?
- What actions will I take in this meeting to meet my objectives?
I recently learned about the Fork Model. My mentor sent me the web address and said it might be of interest. Enjoy this excerpt from the home page:
“The ultimate purpose of helping clients is not only that clients’ goals are reached or their problems solved, but that they become empowered citizens and cultural creatives.”
One part of my vision is to enable and empower clients so they can in turn impact others in the organization, expanding the influence of correct principles to more people so better quality work will be seen in all departments.
There are four parts to the Fork Model:
- Goal-oriented project
- Identity and personal development
- Development of the whole to which you belong
How can we use these principles when advising others?
This week a few people asked for my advice and expertise regarding some projects. In one case, I told the individual that what they needed for their project was an in-person or screen-sharing consultation because it would involve visual, hands-on work. The individual got back to me with a quick response that they had a really busy schedule and that they’d be available by phone.
In this case, I wasn’t establishing boundaries for my own work-life balance or learning how to say ‘no’ to people asking for too much of my time. Instead, I offered more of my time and effort in the name of doing the project correctly: I was asserting that for this specific stage, the meeting had to be both auditory and visual with live editing (it is a visual project and in this case no one has impaired hearing or vision). This means we had to be in person or use online software to communicate effectively.
I have decided to call this principle “asserting my expertise” because in this case, someone with little understanding of the appropriate process for a specific type of project was trying to set the terms of the process. I needed to step in and assert my expertise. And, I did. I replied to the individual that I could not be involved in the project if the meeting were not on the terms necessary to complete the project successfully.
I read an article today by Erika Andersen on Forbes.com entitled, “Passionate Leaders Aren’t Loud – They’re Deep.” Andersen discusses great leadership as not loud speechmaking, but something deeper, in six qualities. Passionate leaders are:
- Honest and genuine
- Clear and powerful, yet respectful
- Open to others’ points of view
- Walking their talk
- Committed despite adversity and setbacks
The the most important principle Andersen brings up is purpose. “What a leader is passionate,” she says, “people feel a deep sense of being led in a worthy direction by someone who is committed to something more important than his or her own individual glory.”
I’m reading the article 6 Things Really Powerful Leaders Do, which obviously talks about leadership and principles by which leaders should live. One, “Be generous to your tribe,” outlines a few ways to be generous to those whom you hope to influence:
- Share your learnings along the way
- Include them in the process
- Show gratitude
- Give recognition
- Work synergistically
My mentor sent me an article on the subject of leadership. I found it helpful as I think of myself as a leader. An individual can be a leader without being a manager. The article talks about asking yourself:
- 5-7-10: where was I when I was 5 years old? What was I doing 7 years ago? Where do I want to be in 10 years?
- What do you want to be in ten years? Be ≠ president of the company, retired, spending more time with activity X.
Once you realize that “being” a good leader is different from “doing” your job well, live by the following principles:
- understand yourself
- understand your context
- be fully present with a person and understand their needs and concerns; put away your smartphone and turn away from your computer when you meet with others
Leadership is a lot about the other person, but it’s also about yourself. It’s neither one nor the other alone. It makes sense: the title “leader” is a relational term. You can’t be a leader if you’re not leading anyone.
For example, I always catered to everyone’s “needs,” saying yes to every request and burning myself out. I was focused on the people I was leading and their needs, but I had left out the leadership part of my role (me and the cohesive identity of “being” I want for myself), so I was just being thrown about by the many voiced needs of my colleagues. What I needed to do was clearly define how I want to be as a leader and how that helps people most, and then control my own schedule for achieving that.
My mentor sent me an article from T+D called “Our Inexpert Judgment of Expertise” by Catherine Lombardozzi. There are 18 determinants of expertise, according to Lombardozzi: six are objective and twelve are subjective.
- Has qualifications required
- Has education necessary
- Has been trained in his area of expertise
- Has knowledge about her field
- Has knowledge specific to his field
- Conducts research related to her field
- Is self-assured
- Is charismatic
- Has self-confidence
- Can deduce things easily from work-related situations
- Can assess whether a work-related situation is important
- Is intuitive in her job
- Is an expert who is outgoing
- Is capable of improving herself
- Is able to judge what things are important
- Has the drive to become what she is capable of becoming in her field
- Is ambitious about her work
- Can talk her way through any work-related situation
According to Lombardozzi it is not only important to have the expertise, but to project those subjective factors that underscore the perception of expertise. She notes that self-assured people may give the impression that they have more expertise than they do. This is important to consider “when making selection decisions or assessing performance.” I see this often in my field, that perceptions drive selection and assessment at times over the actual objective descriptors. It goes both ways. Some favor the outgoing individuals, whose confidence affects the perception, and some favor the quiet, introverted, even antisocial individuals, who seem even more like innovative geniuses because of the quiet lives they live.
The point is to be wise in our judgments of expertise. I think I have focused my vision for myself as a thought leader a little too much on the subjective side; I want to make sure I have all the objective descriptors.
This month I failed at balance. I said yes to too many meetings, but all of them seemed essential. I receive an average of 100 emails a day, many that require responses. I have projects that require constant care and attention. I take on just as much volunteer work, social engagements, and so on. My life is filled with so much “duty” that I lack quiet, meditative peace and even time to take care of mortal essentials such as eating meals and sleeping enough. So today I recommitted myself.
I sat in a meeting that went 15 minutes over its allotted time. To put it frankly, the person in charge was inconsiderate of the time of the individuals in the meeting and was inconsiderate of those who had scheduled the room next. I was appalled at such disrespectful behavior. However, a friend of mine, who sat several rows back, told me she just left at the hour it was supposed to end. She didn’t walk out in rage, but she had another commitment and slipped out the back. Sometimes I wonder what to do in these situations. Out of what I think is respect, I stay the extra 15 minutes. After all, it’s a prisoner’s dilemma. If we all were to decide to leave early from the long meeting, we’d all be walking out the door at the same time. An individual who wants to leave on time from a meeting that goes long depends on those who stick it out and stay so he or she can slip out the back somewhat unnoticed. I am curious to see what my mentor will say. He is much wiser than me about the concept of respect.
The theme I notice in this, though, is that I am allowing others to dictate how I spend my time. A hundred people, through a mix of email, phone calls, and walk-ins, are controlling my schedule. The meeting that went long controlled more of my schedule than I thought it would. There is value in being flexible, but when do I need to be firm – and how do I do it? How can I change my behaviors to say no and not feel guilty for doing so?
My next mentoring session really propelled me forward. I caught a vision of who I want to be. The list contained respect, balance, succinctness, relaxation, and harnessed passion, but there was still more to add to this list. I expressed to my mentor that I wanted to be a thought leader.
One attribute of thought leaders is continuous learning. The skills for the job will constantly change. Technologies constantly change. People change. I must continuously learn and grow.
Also important to being a thought leader is being vulnerable enough to describe not only successes, but failures. One of my heroes is Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School, co-founder of Innosight, and author of How Will You Measure Your Life?. I have attended a few of his presentations and in each he gives not only knowledge on how to succeed through success stories, but also knowledge on how to succeed through his own failure stories. He is willing to show vulnerability. No thought leader is perfect.
A force that shifts the status quo
Another attribute of a thought leader is that he or she provides a force that shifts the status quo. According to my mentor, this is like the power of the ocean.
Every wave is different. The sand is different every time the tide moves. The force of water changes rocks over time. What it leaves behind will never be the same. It leaves behind treasures. The ocean is cleansing. It is a powerful healer: mentally, spiritually, physically. Salt water heals wounds very quickly.
Thought leaders enable others to find success. You need other people to be a thought leader; otherwise you do not lead.
After talking about the attributes of a thought leader, I realized that ‘thought leader’ isn’t just another attribute on the list of who I want to be; it encompasses everything on that list – it is who I want to be.