Think Differently, Lead Differently; Create Concrete Outcomes for Your Organization

Jump into the NEW!

Jump into the "NEW"

If your work environment needs a boost; or your find yourself struggling on Monday morning to get yourself geared up for another week; or You need to keep yourself, staff and volunteers engaged and enthused about the good work you do; or you are just plain stuck and overwhelmed……you need to join us.

Life is not perfect and we will always have to overcome rough spots but I have learned one key lesson;

When  you SHIFT the way you see the world, then the world shifts and you discover new ideas,  that  move you to a new place!

You will learn  how to move from “problem solving” to “solution finding” and although this shift seems subtle, it is essential and powerful because it moves the focus from fixing and blaming to creating and inspiring.

If you put your energy into being  for something you will do two things at once; 1) you will engage in the act of creating “the new” and  2) you simultaneously negate “the old”.  You will learn about the most recent positivity research, experience the power of the SHIFT by learning about the theory and philosophy behind Appreciative Inquiry and most importantly, you will leave with tools and techniques to use immediately in your organization, in community and in your family.

I will offer an all day workshop, sponsored by the Chinook Institute for Civic Leadership on Thursday, Oct. 22nd from 9:00-4:00 at the Keizer Heritage Center in Keizer, Oregon.  If you are a civic, community, organizational or business leader  I hope you will join us.  You can register at:

www.thechinookinstitute.org/shop

 

I’m a Certified Co-Active Coach!

After about a year with the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California, I have completed all of the requirements to become certified coach. I have been a coach to my clients throughout my career but often various client requests would require a “certified” coach….so now I get to join the official ranks!   I combine the philosophy and methodology of Appreciative Inquire in a process I created call the Six Steps to Success; The Coaching Journey.  Stay tuned, I will be writing much more about this!
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A Report on Creating A Nurturing Community with Collective Impact

The community of Coos Bay, Oregon was inspired by a well-known educator, Dr. Stephen Bavolek who when working with community leaders challenged them to create a social environment as beautiful as the natural environment. The Oregon coast is indeed an inspiring rural place and it has many social challenges and yet the spirit of the place is quite amazing. A group of leaders launched a strategic planning process, that I facilitated, and it led to increasing levels of engagement with a commitment to move forward using the Collective Impact model from Strive Together initiative launched in Cincinnati to support cradle to career education.

Click the link below to download The Nurturing Community Coalition Strategic Framework for Positive Community Change and a Plan for Moving Forward.
Contact me if you want to engage your community in a similar effort!


FINAL Strategic Framework-Implementation Plan v.2 (5-27-2014)

Learning the Art of Leadership and Followership Through Nature

This video of starling murmurings is so inspiring; they fly at the same speed, always turn to the center and stay equal distance apart.  They change patterns and still stay connected, flying fifty times faster together then separately with constant changing direction with organic and flexible leadership…there’s a concept!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eakKfY5aHmY

Invest in people, create an enlivened future

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It is time to redefine the word “invest.”

It is not just about money. It is about heart and it is about time as well. When we talk about investing in the people of an organization, it is particularly courageous and daring in these times because it is a strategy of hope and possibility that inspires growth and prosperity.

No one can deny that we have been and continue to be in challenging economic times with accelerating technology and global connectedness. It seems we are faced with two choices: a) The Fear Model: hunker down, get small, cut back, and disinvest in the people, or; b) The Possibility Model: embrace the new, create, innovate, expand, and invest in the most treasured resource; the people.

Organizations are faced with balancing their priorities everyday; important choices that will determine their future viability. We look around today and see the same story played out over and over again in organizations that choose to hunker down — and, in many cases, while still making profits, at the expense of already stressed employees. We see health insurance eliminated, no or reduced 401K, no or limited wage and salary increases, and reduced hours. People feel less and less valued and that they simply don’t matter. They are treated as if they can be replaced by someone else who is desperate for work.

The quality of many workplaces is in a downward spiral where low morale has settled in. And in many cases, employees still work to provide the best customer service they can under dire circumstances.

The overarching message is “Be grateful you still have a job!” But what happens in the long run? We get smaller and more fearful and try to hang on to what we have.

But what if we could make a shift and start to turn things around? What if we could move to a sense of possibility, expansion and action by thinking differently and asking different questions when it comes to supporting and developing people?

I was struck by this quote from Peter Baeklund, a leadership coach who heard this exchange between a chief financial officer and a chief executive officer:

CFO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

The power of this response cannot be missed. The CEO recognized the power of investing in people as being essential to the survival of his company. It was not just a “nice to have;” it was critical.

The value of any organization resides in its people because this is where creativity and inspiration lives.

By simply maintaining the status quo they are not just standing still, they are falling behind and will become dull, uninspired and eventually lose any forward momentum. It is just a matter of time.

Why not build an organization and re-ignite the passion that started it all in the first place? Yes, technology changes the way we work and automation has replaced massive numbers of jobs. And in all of that, we must see new and emerging opportunities and innovation. There are always new chapters to create, new needs to be filled and new innovations that build on the ones that went before. Such an approach assumes growth, expansion and vitality but only if organizations are willing to leave fear behind.

Investments in people can take many forms: •Training onsite (technical and people skills). •Paid time-off to attend relevant educational courses including leadership development. •Business training offered through the Small Business Development Center. •Job rotations within organizations and at customer sites. •Job Shadowing. •Scholarships. •Share training (pooled resources from various organizations). •Community leadership activities.

Aside from education and training, other investments in people can be simple no/low-cost activities that immediately shift the morale in workplaces and help to create an enlivened and productive environment. Something as simple as a “good morning!” might start someone’s day. Or, how about telling people you appreciate them and thank them for something they did right.

Maybe the “boss” could rotate through different functions within the organization, (not exactly “Under-cover Boss”) to gain new perspectives and appreciation for the staff. How about starting a shift or a weekly meeting with the questions such as; “What accomplishment are you most proud of?” or “What worked really well on this project last week?”

Making a living wage is the essential building block and all human beings need to be appreciated, valued and know that we matter. Let me know about a time you really felt valued at your job. These examples will give us all inspiration and ideas!

Deborah Maher, President DFM Consulting Inc., specializes in positive organization change and leadership coaching. She is teaching a series on Positive Change at Southwestern Oregon Community College and is currently a commissioner on the Bandon Planning Commission

When We Don’t Have the Answers

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From My Column “What if…..”  January 25, 2014 7:00 am  •  Deborah Maher,

Have you ever noticed that the contestants on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” can ask others for help and that quite often the most helpful and reliable source is the audience? The wisdom of the group demonstrates that contestants consistently get more right recommendations from the audience because the wisdom of the whole is better than the talents and abilities of just one person working alone to solve a problem.

Scott Page, Ph.D. author of the book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Society,” has done a ton of work on the value of cognitive diversity, showing that random collections of intelligent problem-solvers can outperform collections of the best problem solvers of only one type.

Cognitive diversity comes from our DNA, background, and life experiences, and according to Page we all have different toolboxes that, when combined, enable solution-finders to create novel breakthroughs.

Of the key messages that can be taken from Page is that gaining input from diverse citizens, employees, team members and classmates when working on projects of common concern leads to greater than expected outcomes.

Individuals must strive to be their best but it is not done in a vacuum, it is done in relationship to those around us in our everyday life. Life is a team sport and we see examples of this all around us. We increasingly see the value of team accomplishments. Just look at how the Nobel Prize has evolved. Now instead of the prize going to one scientist, it goes to a team. Even when an actor is accepting an Academy award they acknowledge they did not do it alone. None of us can do it alone. We are living in a time a change where we can no longer rely on the “hero” who will save us.

The difficulty is that it is often hard to ask for help, for a number of reasons. But one that really stands out is the fear of appearing vulnerable. Somehow, we have come to believe that we must have all of the answers and if we don’t, then we are not good enough, smart enough, strong enough or worthy. These are universal fears and now, with the ever-increasing complexity we see around us, the world is calling for us to collaborate and find people with strengths that balance our strengths for the good of the whole.

Being open to ideas different than our own can be difficult because it may cause us to change, shift a perspective or even relinquish some perceived power. However, if we are open to new ideas, inputs and viewpoints, we may find our greatest insights; our “a-ha” moments.

And maybe if we are open, we might even say, “I never thought about it that way!”

The shift begins with willingness; the simple act of being willing to see different viewpoints can lead to unexpected possibilities.

Bell Hooks encourages us to go beyond our fears in her book “Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope,”  as she tells us that our “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

Effective leaders are conveners who demonstrate a willingness to be open to a range of perspectives and are comfortable with not having all of the answers. They understand the importance of posing the right questions. They are inclusive, welcome new ideas and are willing to act on them.

In times of change, we must turn to each other and chart a new path together because we are going to a place we have not been before.

I wonder when you have had the opportunity to work with an inclusive leader and have experienced the power of diversity in creating a solution to a challenging problem. Drop me a line and tell me that story; what was the situation, what types of diverse people were involved, what happened?

It would be great to hear local stories of success. Thanks for your contribution!

Deborah Maher, President DFM Consulting Inc., specializes in positive organization change and leadership coaching. She is teaching a series on Positive Change at SWOCC and is currently a commissioner on the Bandon Planning Commission. You can email Maher at news@theworldlink.com.