When you were a teenager, what did you do best? "Confusion" and "Rebellion" come to mind. And when you were growing up, who was your favorite villain? Your parents. Because they laid down unreasonable laws for reasons you did not understand, and then you got punished for questioning and/or not following them!
If you recognize your corporate experience in this description, that is not accidental. Our businesses, our management structure, and our ways of measuring human output exactly as we do that of a machine is a systemic structure to which we have learned to adapt.
The boss is the parent meting out either applause or punishment. This professional parent must be pleased or you will have your "allowance" lowered or you will be told to leave home. And speaking up? Well, only in very specific and well-crafted ways. And only in situations - and with people - which will bear the weight of your questioning.
How do we stop being professional children?
My mind got blown yesterday because I went to an Online Summit where people with names verified with every syllable the worth and truth of what I have learned from 30 years in corporations and 8 years+ as an entrepreneur!
To quote my business partner, The Predictive Index, "All business problems are people problems."
Isn't that delicious? It makes you sit up and go, "Wait. What?" And anything that jolts you to sit up and pay attention is something that is making you think new thoughts.
That's always a good thing!
Also always a good thing: to know that your company IS your people. It doesn't "contain" people - people are not, in fact, your "resources" - they are your internal collaborators, your partners, your business's life blood! Think of it this way: if everyone left the "building" - or in these times their computers - what would be left to do your business for you.
So C-Suite leaders are awakening to the need to be human in how they approach their business problems!
"Hard work always pays off, no matter what you do."
~ Dustin Lynch
I don't know who Dustin is, but I do know that I've heard that message from every part of my life - from school to work to entrepreneurship. We have all been told - and convinced - that hard work is our Magic Pill to the Big Rewards we are supposed to want: security, money, comfort. I have nothing against security, money or comfort. But I do want to include a few major things not mentioned: meaning, fulfillment, passion, self-definition, love, community...
However, being a good student of what-is, and someone who wanted to do well in order to get applause, I believed in the more narrowly-defined rewards. But I ended up with a problem, and I'm not the only one with the problem. Not by a long shot.
The problem is: hard work is not actually The Big Bad Answer to Success. The hard work "solution" is myopic as hell, and certainly left me washed up on a personal shore I didn't expect to visit.
I used to work myself to death. Fourteen hour days, fitful sleep, worry-worry-worry, self-flagellation emotionally and physically. And no matter what I did - and I did it for years - big success eluded me completely.
At the not-so-very-tender age of 56 I suddenly heard my mind ask me a potent question: "Is this approach to your life working for you?"
The fact that I was asking the question while lying in the bedroom of a friend's house - a kind soul who offered me space in his house as a rescue a homeless existence in my car...well, that was its own answer, wasn't it.
I worked for a company in which the company culture was lauded. We had gatherings, games, ways to give back to the community, raffles, all kinds of vendors coming in to sell us all kinds of things at reduced rates, holiday lunches...
Problem: It didn't help morale - didn't stop attrition - didn't increase engagement.
Company culture is not a standalone effort. it is not a Band-Aid that can slapped over problems in order to make employees feel better about their dispiriting work conditions. So when is company culture "a thing"? When is it something to celebrate?
I once knew a hard-working, bright young woman who was hired to work at one of the largest firms in the world. The company was famous for its relaxed atmosphere, for providing all of the comforts of home while at work - from a gym to a laundromat. Free breakfasts. Help getting to and from work. Verrry chic!
I sent her an email, a week into her new gig, and I asked her how it was going! I was excited to hear how "the other half lived"! Disappointingly, she was unhappy and didn't think she would stay very long (she in fact left after 3 months).
Wholeness used to be a "woo woo" term. Very fluffy and light.
Not anymore. That is, not if you're paying attention.
At my last job one of the statements I heard directed at those below management was, "You shouldn't be asking for more, you should just be grateful to have a job."
From simply a human viewpoint, how thrilled are you going to be to bring your best to the table when you are receiving that kind of message?
Let's get real. You're NOT going to be thrilled.
This is one kind of the internal fracturing that goes on and on, and then we wonder why we can't bring a business together!
A business is not the sum of its parts. Wait, WHAT? Right. It isn't. As it stands, we are fractured. We have a system which takes parts of the business and gives them differing goals, and different rewards, and asks them all to care more about the business than about themselves.
With this perspective, you are about to spend the rest of the life of your business dealing with unnecessary attrition, absenteeism, on-the-job illness, and the loss of lots and lots and LOTS of money!
If you're ready to look at business as what it is - the sum of the parts of its humans - it ends up looking more like an addition problem made up of these vibrant aspects::
Human Beings +
Service to a Greater Purpose =
A Wholeness-Based, Successful, Sustainable Business
Sales and Marketing - when created by individuals permitted to be more in service to their integrity and to their customers than they are to their sales numbers - are actually the same animal.
When at their very most human and intentional best - best for everyone, not as a drive for a desired bottom line - Sales and Marketing connect with the other with authenticity, emotion, consideration and with personal integrity. They are based on communicating the core, human, emotionally palpable message.
We have learned the rules, and we have learned them well.
We have learned them from the Corporate environments we have slaved in.
We learned them to survive and to try to rise, and although they never worked, we didn't think we could do anything about it. We learned to:
These messages could not be further from the truth!
I know someone who left her corporate high-level job one week before COVID hit. So did her husband. They took off for warmer climes - the Virgin Islands, to be precise - to start a Bed & Breakfast. And then - one week later - COVID hit.
What a great excuse for panic. But instead of panicking, she started looking for independent work to do. She asked herself, "What can I do to stay afloat here until I know how to do something different?" And even amidst the nervousness, she made room in her consciousness: maybe there is something I can do.
I hired her to be my Virtual Assistant until her business got going.
The reason I mention her is that she confronted the unknown, she asked some questions of herself, made room for potential answers, and she moved forward. In scary times of the unknown, we need steps that we can place our feet on with certainty. Without that, we spin.
In these uncertain times, we also have our so-called Number One fear to deal with: public speaking. Okay, it's not exactly the same as getting onto a stage and giving a talk - granted! - but I know a lot of people, a lot of businesswomen, a lot of entrepreneurs who are having fits dealing with having to be so visible on Zoom.
I also have a friend who will not chat on Zoom with me because she doesn't like the way she looks, and she doesn't want to see herself on that medium. That's a terrible situation in which I have to miss my friend at the time I could use connections the most.
For businesswomen/entrepreneurs, the problem is equally acute.
What do you do if you have to now do your business online? Live? On Zoom, or GoToWebinar?...and you are profoundly uncomfortable with the process, and lacking any ways of being able to check your effectiveness or appropriateness?
I can't count the number of times I sat in an office in my 20's and asked the one question that absolutely killed my boss's patience: "But...how will this task I'm doing impact that task over there?"
That's the question a leader asks. Leaders want to know the 360-degree and it's not because they are ego-starved for power; it's because they understand that no one thing in business lives in a vacuum. Everything impacts everything else!
Leaders - real leaders - understand that their job is to serve those below them, to help them do their best work, to invite them to grow in ways that will benefit them personally as well as benefit the company.
This kind of leader is too rare. But it might be you. And if you are that kind of leader, it's time to approach that understanding within yourself.
You know you're a leader if...
Talent Optimization Specialist, Speaker, Consultant, Writer and Advocate for the Redefined Self-Image and Impact of Leadership, Women Leaders and Leadership Teams, Lori is the author of Call Center Crazy and The Human Solution: Human Solutions to Every "Unsolvable" Business Problem,
As featured in:
Do you like the idea of breaking those social "should's" that have held you back for too long? Do you like the idea of successfully changing your modes of communication, your business structures, your self-image, and to your quality of life?
Lori Kirstein, Founder
The Goodbye Good Girl™ Project LLC
The Feminine Face of Business
Cincinnati, OH 45205
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