The Rhetoric of Achievement

Sometimes, the smallest details can make a humongous difference.

Take, for example, a slight change of wording. Words carry not only meaning but substance and can define a situation based on the weight and temperament of the word in the perception of the readers.

Case in mind:

Instead of using the term “goal setting”, what if we used the word “dream planning”?

As important is the process of setting goals to achieve desired success, somehow it seems that the terminology is almost generic in a way. Goal setting and planning are such critical, lifeline processes in designing, running, and growing a small business – yet so many small business owner don’t have a concrete plan.

My idea is to revitalize the spirit in small business owners by bringing their consciousness back to what got them started in the first place: The DreamThe daily operations of the business often gets in the way of seeing the big picture of The Dream, as often the small business owner is a key producer of the organization, if not the sole producer. This is the central concept in my own small business, Laura The Project Gal – to help small business owners find, define, and achieve their dreams. 

I’d love your thoughts on the importance of rhetoric in goal setting. Am I making a big ado about nothing? Or could we dig into the spirit of entrepreneurs with a rhetorical concentration of words that touch the heart?

Please comment below – I’d love to get the conversation going.

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Leadership 101 = Parenting 101

I’m a newbie in the world of leadership and parenting, and the correlations are just too strong to ignore.

 

Leadership largely as a study is an exploration of self. During formal study, you explore what it takes to be a leader and many determine, in fact, that they don’t really want to be in a leadership position. Much in the same manner as some friends in the past who determined that they may not aspire to parenthood after spending an afternoon at a friend’s little kid’s birthday party. So, what is it about leadership that so relates to parenthood?

 

First and foremost, being a good leader and a good parent is about the development of those around you, whether they are called your employees or your children. Being a parent is about guiding your child through the walks of life, even when it’s a matter of being the bad guy, aka the disciplinarian (my least favorite role in this position). Being a leader means guiding those around you to grow professionally under your wing. The adjective of “good” often stems from the “why”, which just so happens to be my three-year-olds favorite word at the moment.  Do you do it because you have to as a part of your role, or do you do it because you love to watch others develop and grow? I believe the root of our motivation correlates with our success. Whether it’s a matter of parenting or leadership, if you’re hearts not in it, it becomes quite obvious to others.

 

Another correlation of leadership and parenthood is the simplicity of success. Many times, we tend to overcomplicate things; at least I can speak for myself! Sometimes when everything hits the ceiling and my toddler is ranting and raving and tearing up the house, the solution is as simple as to turn off the television or perhaps to just put her in her bed. Moments like these hit me hard, especially in the wake of actually attempting to talk to her to calm her down or some other adult type of rationalization in the moment. Leadership is often similar. Leaders don’t necessarily have the singular role of motivating, leading, and developing their employees; they often have that dual role while upholding the business operations as well. So, life at work gets complicated. There are orders to be met, customers to keep happy, employees to manage, and bosses to answer to. Often, the simple reality of humanity underneath every function and operation of the business can be overlooked. That’s why I tell my management students probably 40 times in a semester class, “No matter how complicated your affairs may become, never forget that you are working with people, people who have lives outside of here and who have feelings dominating their beings and blood running through their veins.” I personally believe that much of what makes dissatisfied employees is that disconnect of humanity with management.

 

Finally, I’m not sure there is one right or one wrong way to be a parent or a leader, nor is there a textbook that will teach us what experience will. Different situations call for different styles in both situations. Nine months of pregnancy and endless books, blogs, websites, and chatting with other mothers could not have prepared me for what happened once my child was put into my arms. The moment dictates my actions. Sure, if I have a moment to ponder (rare), I can recall information about the situation that I had read in the past, but instincts kick in. The first look into those eyes and the promises start rolling – safety, happiness, vacations, strength, courage, manners, life’s lessons. I think a leader should take a similar approach with a new employee or team. The leader should promise to them what she brings to the table and what she hopes to help the team or individual create and become. In essence, this would be equivalent to the “Leader’s Charter”, a wonderful mission statement for any leadership position written by Art Petty and Rich Petro in Practical Lessons in Leadership. Start out simply knowing where you want to go, how you want to treat your people, take advice and lessons from life and books, and stay focused in the tough moments.

I have a little secret to confess: when I was a high school teacher, I used to secretly thank my students’ parents for the practice in becoming a parent. Human beings are sometimes tough to manage, especially in those difficult, hormonal years of self-exploration, and I got a crash course in teenagers! Again, the several adolescent psychology courses that I had to take certainly became a foundation of my knowledge but rarely could I ever recall a particular theory when in the moment of chaos in the classroom. Leading a classroom of teenagers or a team of adults or a child through the walks of life all have much in common, and I think the key to it all is to try to have an empathetic approach to everything. I say it and know in the same breath how challenging this can often be. But, the attempt to put yourself in another’s shoes itself, even if unsuccessful, proves the heart in you as a parent and a leader and the presence of the answer “because I care and want to help you” to the never-ending question of why.

First Impressions Matter to Your Organization

A friend made a comment about how sick just the thought of walking into her job made her feel, and that got the wheels turning in my head. So, I am writing my first blog entry! Thanks for tuning in!

 

What song goes through your mind as you walk through the door of your job? Is it Chopin’s “Funeral March” or “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang? That initial feeling when you walk through that door is a huge indicator of your job satisfaction and, oftentimes, performance as well.
Why should managers care about whether or not their employees are happy?  Bottom line is that it helps the bottom line! Now, I’m not saying that in order to be happy, employees must be coddled and given easy assignments. By all means, I think the challenge should be in the assignment rather than the song reference in your head as you walk in the door. It should tell you something if you have an internal battle whether or not to open that door or run.
We are also in an era of job shortage. Isn’t it better just to be employed, even if you’re miserable, making money, rather than sitting idle? Many people are simply taking any job they can get in order to bring some cash flow into the household. Isn’t’ it better to just deal with it until something better comes along? My answer is no.
First of all, many employers know people have this mindset these days – this is my “for now” job. They envision where they want to be hired when the hiring freeze ends or the economy turns around. This makes it more complicated to get the “for now” jobs since the answers to the “Where do you see yourself in a year?” question is being analyzed more than ever before.
Secondly, there is the opportunity cost. If you lock yourself into a position that makes you less than satisfied, your time to network and search for that right fit are minimized. Dissatisfaction with your job comes home with you, and your drive to look for other work during your time off dwindles. Your depressed state is also obvious to outsiders looking in as it manifests itself in our attitudes, actions, words, and even our personal upkeep.
Thirdly, it is costly for the hiring company. The entire recruitment and hiring process itself requires high paid professionals in many large organizations, and it takes time away from the small business manager. High employee turnover is an indication of employee dissatisfaction, and, in my opinion, requires a major look at the organizational culture rather than the wording the classified ad.
Several ideas have been floating through this blog, and, in summary, my own take-aways are as follows:
·         First impressions matter, especially when you first walk in the door at work. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do as you enter the office and how you can change the song in your head to sing the words that make you want to give the best of your abilities that day.
·         Employers – flat out ask your employees how they feel. Analyze your organizational culture and see what improvements can be made from the inside. An anonymous survey with the question “What song is in your head as you walk through these doors each day?” may provide some interesting insight.
·         Job seekers – really do your research about the companies to which you apply. I suggest checking out http://www.glassdoor.com. This is a site where employees give their real and anonymous opinions about their place of work. It’s a great place to read about how people feel working there. Don’t settle for less than what you really want and need to be a satisfied employee – the opportunity cost may be that you’re not available or not in the right mindset when it does come along!
I have many ideas and thoughts ready to explode from my mind and think I will start writing them down more often. I welcome and appreciate any comments, critiques, and questions.
As I tell my Principles of Management students at the local community college, no matter how complicated or critical a job may be, just always remember that you’re dealing with people, each possessing complicated emotions and thoughts that drive their actions and behaviors. Don’t ever forget the humanity in business – we are nothing without our people!
I look forward to your thoughts! Thanks for reading!