Friday, June 20, 2008

If You Don't Know, Ask...Then Ask Again

First impressions... Whether or not people should read a book by its cover, or the proverbial personality cover in this instance, the fact remains that most people do. So how you hit the floor running when you enter an organization will be very telling. This is a heads up to remember that in most cases, this is the norm. The only question might be is 100 days too long or do many organizations form an opinion much faster than that?

I would ask, what do you need to do to hit the floor running and stay running? Otherwise you'll be running to catch up, not lead. After a while it'll be more like hitting your head against the wall than evolving into any semblance of leadership. I'd also suggest learning as much as you can before walking through the front door. What is expected of you and by when? What do you need to know that you don't know in order to do your job in the best possible way? And if you don't know, then ask. Ask again. Ask someone else for their perspective. Don't forget to listen from a perspective of what you don't know. There's always more than one perspective. If others are holding back information, that says a lot about corporate culture and if the staff is collaborative or not. It'll also be a key determining factor as to how quickly you can get moving.

Balance those answers with your knowledge, innovative approach and energy. Integrate what others say to build a strong, cohesive team, not a dictatorship, and you'll have others on board to support you.

"Leaders don't force people to follow—they invite them on a journey." - Charles S. Lauer

Remember, in any context you have power with people, not by holding power over them. You'll all know within 3 months or less whether or not it's going to work. Cut that in half and you're ahead of the game.

Donna Karlin

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making Distinctions

Discrimination: def "Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit."

Lives take shape in ways we cannot always predict or fathom. People are complex creatures with a myriad of ways to look at life. Few embrace life as is without placing judgment as good or bad, comfortable with or fearful of…the blacks and whites of this world with little grey… Most people see life from a perspective of their own history, rather than looking at how to create a life they love because of it and in spite of it.

I’ve witnessed and experienced discrimination on many fronts from racial, religious, level of education and yes, even colour of one’s hair. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I intimidate because of the level of work I do and yet I’m a person just like anyone else. One is judged by how little education they have to how much, whether they work in powerful circles or, perhaps drive a bus (I’m just using this as an example not as a slur to bus drivers). In some ways it’s a mirror of what one doesn’t want to gaze at within themselves. Excuses aside, as a Shadow Coach™ I observe people in their worlds and can help them look at the filters through which they look at life. Whether or not they change them or remove those filters, is their choice. I can deal with being the recipient of discrimination, but I will not make excuses for who I am because of it.

I tell my students “What someone else thinks of me is none of my business” and then we look at just what that means. If I constantly change myself to suit what someone else wants me to be, I am no longer my authentic self. To do that not only compromises my personal integrity but fundamentally breaks down my person foundation from which I build my life. If I did constantly change myself to suit others, who would be me? How could I ever think of coaching anyone else in alignment with their personal values and ethics if I don’t live by my own?

So as life comes full circle, I might not be able to predict where mine might be going but I can make choices in the present to create a future that will blow me away. It’s about paying attention before possibility goes poof into the night…..

Donna Karlin

Note: Tuesday, June 17th our newsletter is about 'change'. 2 minutes reading time or less. To access it click Remember to opt in so it'll come right to your inbox.

©2008, all rights reserved.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Not to be missed!

It's not often I write a post about an upcoming talk but in this case, I'm making an exception. My esteemed colleague and friend, John Lazar will be the guest on Global Abundance Alliance, Coaching For the New Millenium on Sunday, June 15th at 10:00 am Eastern (details below).

"Traditionally, we think of coaching as being confined to some athletic or physical endeavor such as sports or personal fitness. Fifteen, even ten years ago, coaching for individuals to produce success in their personal and business lives was virtually unheard of. Yet in today's world, coaching is credited with giving many people and companies that extra edge to attain top success in their field.

The Global Abundance Alliance is proud to present John Lazar, MA, MCC, a Professional Coach, for this month's Learning Leader Call. John describes himself as a "change agent with diverse experience in consulting and telecommunications industries." He is "committed to delivering solutions that develop competitive, agile organizations and productive, engaged teams and individuals."

Date: June 15, 2008
Time: 10-11:30 am ET, (7-8:30 am PT)
Conference Call: Dial - (712) 432-9998
Enter Access Code - 875617#

Don't miss it!

Donna Karlin

***Note re republishing my blog: Should you care to include all or part of any article from my weblog in one of your publications you have my permission to do so provided that you credit me for the material, mention where it was obtained and also my copyright. A suggested form might be "The above (or following) article is included with the permission of Donna Karlin and is Copyright ©2003-2008 by Donna Karlin. All rights reserved."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Are You a Maverick Thinker?

Are you a maverick thinker? By maverick thinker, I don’t mean coming up with the ideas and innovative concepts to run with, rather it’s balancing innovation with what already exists and is successful that might give an organization the winning edge.

For some organizations, especially government, the hiring process is so rigid, it excludes the maverick thinkers, relying more on educational and professional credentials than what they can bring to the table. Toss government criteria in the mix when they have to classify levels to the ‘nth’ degree which adds a restricting framework around how the job gets done, and it makes a huge difference as to whether or not maverick thinkers can thrive or even exist.

Supporting these thinkers while at the same time moderating what they actually fly with will make a difference with regards to payback. That's the role of leadership. Not an easy role by any means. Leadership has to moderate how many new ideas the organization will fly with as running with too many ideas will cause loss of focus and reduced profit in every realm, not just the innovative ones.

Many have no idea what they shouldn’t be doing so dive in with both feet. Some become extremely successful and others can’t understand why they’re struggling. If you talk yourself out of things before they start, you’ll stagnate. If you don’t even conceive that failure is an option, you’re more apt to take risks and play with innovative concepts and ideas.

Energy will be on possibility rather than the impossible. If leadership provides a framework around which these maverick thinkers can ‘play’ then who knows what can happen?

D’you know what I mean?

Next time you find yourself talking yourself out of trying something you’ve been dying to test out, give it a chance. Explore the possibilities with those who can support you and let them see your passion and energy. That’s the first step. You figure out the second that’ll work for you. Go for it! And those of you in positions of leadership? When is the last time you let a maverick thinker really come out to play? If you haven’t, how long do you think they’ll stick around?

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome 131 country subscriber from Guatemala. We hope you stick around for a long time to come and join into the conversation.