Where great ideas comes from

We all do something every day that is meaningful enough to share with our spouse and kids at night.

We all do something every week that is meaningful enough to share with our boss at work.

We all do something every month that is meaningful enough to share with the entire department.

We all do something every year that is meaningful enough to share with the entire company.

And whatever that last thing is, it’s meaningful enough to share it with the world.

So pay attention to what you do. Share it with others. It’s a way for you to improve your teaching skills and an opportunity for everyone else to learn from your experience. Every time you share, you release an idea that might bump against another idea, leading to something magical. That’s how all great ideas emerge.

We could all use great ideas right now.

HT to Steven Johnson.

Making a small difference

If you work with 10 people, you can celebrate 10 birthdays this year.

Perhaps one of them will have a new baby, and that’s something to celebrate too.

One of them might need surgery. Why not send a care basket at home?

You were out for surgery and others kept your projects on track. Send a thank you note.

One might lose a parent. Show up at the service, even if only on Zoom.

A colleague is struggling with a major project? Lend a hand.

You are invited to speak at big meeting but someone else on your team could use the exposure. Offer them up instead.

So many ways we can make a difference every day. Each small, each adding up. If you were to write one action on a line of college ruled paper for each workday, you would fill 8 pages by the end of this year.

That would make for some nice reading.

Effortless culture building

When a supervisor speaks about the code of conduct, she is effectively inviting her employees to ask questions when facing an ethical dilemma.

When she discusses a policy, it makes her employees wonder what other policies might exist.

When she shares what she’s learned from a recent online training module, she’s gently reminding her troops that they need to complete their training as well.

When she explains the necessity of a new control, she is prompting everyone to look for other compliance gaps.

When she praises an employee for speaking up, she is showing everyone else what behavior is expected of them.

Simple acts. Day in, day out. Each building an ethical culture, almost effortlessly.

Be solid ground

A few decades ago, there were too few sources of information.

Now, there are too many sources of misinformation.

To be an ethical leader today means that you are committed to providing accurate and complete information. You back your statements with primary sources. You refuse to repeat rumors.

Those you lead are anxious amidst all this misinformation. It is detrimental to their health, both physical and mental, and to their performance.

Be a source of certainty that is based on others’ ability to verify what you say.

Time to bend the arc

The post below was originally published on January 16, 2017

A century before Martin Luther King’s “Where do we go from here?” speech of August 1967, Theodore Parker said the following:

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

The arc doesn’t bend on its own. The bend is created by the courageous and persistent work of a minority, who possesses a moral imagination capable of seeing a future world that is better than today’s.

And so do we all have a responsibility to see the injustice about us, and to work towards its elimination, even if we never enjoy the fruits of our labor.

You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to evade it. — Rabbi Tarfon

Ten months without breaking bread

There were three candy bowls on my office floor.

There were snacks in the kitchen and, occasionally, leftovers from a business lunch.

I often had lunch with colleagues in the cafeteria. Sometimes we went out to eat.

One Friday each month someone would bring breakfast treats for the whole floor. Once a year we had a holiday pot luck.

I’ve had meals at my boss’ home. I’ve had my team over for dinner at my house.

My best memories of business travels around the globe all have one thing in common: sharing some local fare with colleagues, everyone joking and laughing and smiling.

All this is gone now.

Food is a connector. It brings us together. It forces different conversations, revealing who we are and not simply what we do. We crave these connections. Breaking bread together is a tradition in all cultures. To be human is to eat together. From times immemorial.

We can’t fill this need with a Zoom meal. This craving will remain unfulfilled until the pandemic is over. It will affect the mental health of every employee to some degree.

Leaders must be mindful of this reality. They must find other ways to connect with their team. They must ask employees to follow social distancing rules, to wear a mask, to wash their hands and to get vaccinated.

May we all soon get back together and raise our glasses to good health.

On ethics training

Providing training is like giving advice.

If it’s for a specific person, it’s likely to land. If it’s for a group, it’s likely to miss the mark for a few people.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t create training materials for large groups. When we do, we simply need to create a space for discussion between the trainer and the trainees.

What of online training? Well, it can be a two-step process. First, the employees complete the training, then they discuss as a group.

The first step shows you have provided the training. The second shows that you cared about the learning.