Mavi Viljoen (the artist formerly known as MA Giroux) is a hospitalitarian, writer, teacher, and urban godmother. She believes, to quote her spirit animal, Auntie Mame, that "life's a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death." A veteran leader in the hospitality industry, she and her husband moved to Honduras in 2015 to establish a bi-lingual tourism program for high school students. She's been published in the International Journal of Servant Leadership and the host of www.acumennial.com 's LeaderSips. Come spring, you can find her rooting for her beloved Washington Nationals.
Tag Archives: integrity
3 QUICK JOLTS OF
When people describe someone as a "natural leader" they are generally responding to a combination of traits known as executive presence. If you're looking to strengthen your leadership, here's 3 elements you should consider.
There is a point in our personal story - whether it be our career path, a relationship, an athletic achievement, an academic goal - in which we are too far in to turn back, but the finish line is no where to be seen. According to Brene Brown, author of Rising Strong, that is the space in which courage is forged.
It's classic storytelling. We've seen it in movies and cartoons. We've read it in fairy tales and biographies. We've heard it on podcasts and radio shows.
- Act 1 - The hero starts a journey
- Act 2 – The hero falls into a dark space
- Act 3 – The hero gets it done
So let's talk about Act 2. The middle space. It's when our stories hurt or feel dangerous. It's when we fall, when we fail. When we are "less than." It can be simple - like a minor conflict with a friend - or it can be significant - like the loss of a job. Regardless of the magnitude, it is here that the hero goes through three phrases: reckoning, rumbling, and revolution.
The reckoning is when we face our emotions. We acknowledge our doubt, our fear, our uncertainty. We acknowledge that we don't have all the answers. We go as far as to acknowledge we may not even have all the questions.
The rumble is when we get brave about the discomfort that we are feeling. We dig into our stories until we get to a place of truth, of revelation.
The revolution occurs when the discovered truth evolves into a process, an everyday habit, a regular practice, an enlightened moment. It is this practice that creates the revolution in our lives that allows us - to paraphrase Brown - to rise strong and cultivate whole heartedness.
This is how transformational leaders make their impact. They "do" discomfort. They do not run away, but rather place themselves squarely in the middle of the storm. They have absolute emotional awareness of their own life and of those around them. They know that digging deeper will guide them to the truth, because curiosity is the currency of the leadership realm.
Rising strong is about owning your story. It's not about being the victim, the villain, or even the hero of your story. It's about being the author of your story. And that requires courage. Courage is uncomfortable, and that is why it is rare. You can choose to be courageous or your can choose to be comfortable, but you cannot have both.
"The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable. But our wholeness - even our wholeheartedness - actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls." - Brene Brown
In the past 5 days two writers who I greatly admire have discussed "grit" as an important part of leadership and professional development. Hey, when I see a trend I act on it. So, let's talk about grit - true or otherwise.
Here's some random grit fun facts:
- Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight different elections. He went on to be one of the most respected Presidents of the United States.
- Walt Disney was told he had no creative talent and fired from a newspaper job. He went on to create one of the world's most beloved cartoon characters.
- Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by 23 different publishers. The 24th publisher accepted it and sold 6 million copies.
- Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year. He went on to become one of the most successful and popular athletes in the world.
- Elvis Presley was fired after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry having been told, "you ain't going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck." Elvis became one of the most famous American singers of the 20th century.
Researcher Tammy Duckworth defines grit as "the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals." Do you remember the story of the "Little Engine That Could?" Faced with unimaginable odds, this little train had the tenacity to do what no larger train could - make it over long, arduous terrain to its destination. "I think I can... I think I can... "
One of the writers I alluded to above is Seth Godin. I'm a big fan of his. As he would be of me, if he knew I was alive. But I digress. Seth made the observation that grit equals hard work and persistence. And as long as he defines it with both of those qualifiers, I'm good.
Grit is not synonymous with hard work alone. It involves a certain single-mindedness. It's the difference between starting a new project every month and sticking with the same one until its difficult conclusion is reached. Both require hard work. Only one requires grit.
And as the other writer I alluded to, Bill Hybels, has said, "the enemy of grit is ease." Grit is tough because you don't get the adrenaline rushes that new projects bring. It is slow, inch-by-inch success. It's that very moment when you say to yourself, "I knew I could..."
Generous leaders give people a reason to care -- not a laundry list of orders to follow. Leaders demonstrate this by setting the example every day.They ensure their actions are in alignment with what they profess to believe, and they hold others accountable for agreed upon values and outcomes.
But, as leaders, we must make sure there is consistency between our words and actions, or we lose all credibility.
So, today, do a self-assessment and ask yourself, "if my life were a silent film, would the audience know what was important to me through my actions?"
A few days ago I had a really tough day. Everything I attempted was hard. It required a lot of creative problem solving, a lot of patience, and a lot of tenacity.
And no one will ever know everything I did to make sure everything went smoothly. From the perspective of my administration, my team members, my clients, and my students... "nothing" happened that day.
It's hard to stay in a team mindset when you feel like no one is noticing your contribution.
So, keep in mind... even if you don't think other people notice... what you do matters.
Your work matters to your organization.
All of those times that "nothing" happened add up. It adds up to client loyalty. It adds up to employee retention. It adds up to a steady revenue line. It adds up to a healthy bottom line.
Your work matters to your team.
Being on a great team is more than skills, experience, knowledge, and expertise —it’s the people themselves. And if you've taken the time to build relationships, rest assured, your team knows the contribution you are making. They may not notice every "nothing".. but they know they can count on you. And they appreciate it.
Your work matters to you.
If you care about going the extra mile, then you care about what you do. While it may be difficult to see your work (possibly) ignored, it is even more difficult to have the self-realization that you are not contributing at your best level. The satisfaction of a job well done is intrinsic to most of us.
Being recognized, having your contribution called out is exciting, but it's not that important. The importance lies in the work’s intrinsic value, in being a good team player, in understanding that your contribution is important... even if there are no bells and whistles attached.
Your work matters because … work matters—to the company, to the team, and to you.
Consider the amount of trust our guests put in us.
They arrive in a strange city and rely on our recommendations and suggestions. They enjoy a few drinks in our restaurants and may have fuzzy judgement. They retire to their rooms and drift off to sleep - certainly a most vulnerable state for anyone.
As individuals and as an organization are we ensuring we are acting with complete integrity at all times?
Said it? Do it.
When you make the decision to follow through on what you say you will do, you think differently about the commitments you make. You begin to create more meaningful and attainable deadlines - whether its getting extra towels to a room within 10 minutes or having a room ready for arrival with all special requests met. When you make a consistent effort to keep commitments, guests feel confident you can deliver the expected results. They begin to trust you. Trusting guests become loyal guests.
Missed it? Admit it.
Don't pretend it didn't happen, don't blame it on someone else. If you're the person standing in front of a disappointed guest, it doesn't matter who dropped the ball. For the guest, you are the organization and you owe an apology. Spreading this kind of accountability will do much more to create a bond with your guests than any attempt to create a happy illusion, no matter how well intentioned.
See it? Say it.
If there is an area or a circumstance that puts the organization's integrity at risk, say what needs to be said to someone who can do something about it. This contributes to an accountable environment.
Leaders, remember that for people to feel comfortable saying what needs to be said, they need an environment free from fear of retaliation. Even the most assertive person will shut up if retaliation is prominent in the culture. People who are encouraged to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said are empowered to do whatever is productively and ethically necessary to obtain results.
Focusing on these three areas creates the kind of seamless accountability that allows guests to relax and enjoy their experience while building the loyalty that sustains an organization.
People are terrible at keeping promises.
prom·ise /ˈpräməs/ a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something, or that something will certainly happen in the future.
Promises are important contracts that we make every day. If you think I'm a little over the top in calling it a contract, ask this Texas teenager about the power of a promise. When his parents were killed in a motorcycle accident days before his high school graduation, the police officer who delivered the news to to the teen made this promise about his graduation: “You are going to walk! Your mom and dad will have front-row seats looking down from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.” He did... and he did.
There are tons of broken promise statistics out there, from New Year's resolutions to divorce rates to a typical day in Congress. Why are we so bad at keeping promises?
Well, for one thing, we have terrible memories. We may believe we remember exactly what we said, exactly when we said it... but the fact is study upon study has shown that our memories fail us more times than not.
===> Want to keep a promise? Write it down.
Another reason is that we get caught up in the excitement of the moment and we believe we're going to keep that promise. Then the weak spot comes. That's when we need someone to hold us accountable. You can do it through social media or you can do it by telling a trusted friend. Either way, knowing you can't walk away will get you through the valley.
===> Want to keep a promise? Share it with friends.
A third reason is that we don't think it through. If you've ever been held hostage by a deadline, you know how bad we can be at perceiving time. How much time a task might take... how much effort it really involved... how much of a commitment you are opening yourself up to. So when a promise becomes hard, unpleasant, or inconvenient we tend to just sweep it under the rug and walk away.
===> Want to keep a promise? Have a well thought-out plan.
Integrity comes down to 7 words: Do What You Say You Will Do. Don't throw promises around; with each broken promise a small measure of your integrity and credibility is chipped away.
Want to know more about the power of promises? Because I Said I Would is a non-profit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Check out BISIW's founder, Alex Sheen's recent TED talk, the source of today's message. Or you can visit his website here.
If you start a 31-day month with a single penny and on each day you doubled the amount, by the end of the month you will accumulate $10,737,418.24.
If you start a 31-day month with a single penny and on every other day you doubled the amount, by the end of the month you will accumulate $163.84.
What starts off slow -- .01, .02, .04 -- suddenly gains momentum and yields remarkable results when consistently applied.
That's why every customer, every guest, every client matters. Every time.
Last time, we talked about how to manage a departure professionally when you are the one exiting. Today, let's take a look at that some best practices are when you're on the receiving end of the resignation letter.
1. Be gracious. Maya Angelou once said, "You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangle Christmas Tree lights." Add to that the resignation of an employee. As with anything else in leadership, choosing to be gracious will never cause regret. Getting angry, guilt tripping, or jumping for joy may feel good in the moment, but behavior like that might be exactly why the person is choosing to leave. Remember, the employees who remain will be watching carefully.
2. Consider a counter-offer carefully. Personally, I've never counter-offered a resigning employee. If someone has gone through the work of finding a new job and saying the words, "I quit" -- that's a lot of energy and commitment they've expended on leaving. I have had colleagues who have counter offered, only to have that same employee leave within six months anyway (hint: it's rarely about the money.) In the 20+ years I've been leading people, I've only seen a counter offer be effective twice. Both times the leaders were asleep at the switch and out of touch with the needs of their employees. If you're doing your job well, you'll know that it is time for the person to leave, and then you'll refer to #1.
3. Work on a transition plan immediately. This is will depend on the circumstances surrounding a departure. If it is a disgruntled employee, I would suggest paying him out for his resignation period and calling it a day... and I suspect his co-workers will thank you for it. If, on the other hand, it is an amicable departure, discuss how the message of the resignation will be delivered. Confirm the departure date and ask the employee to create a transition document with details of projects and status of loose ends. Agree upon the plan and work it.
4. Determine your current needs. Organizations evolve and positions change so the chances are high you do not need a one-for-one replacement of the person that is leaving. Before you start your search, take a strategic look at the talent gaps that exist in your remaining workforce.
5. Continue recruitment efforts. I say "continue" because effective organizations have a culture in which recruitment is a daily and ongoing effort. Leaders should always be on the lookout for new talent so that a resignation does not catch them unprepared. If you don't have a reserve of potential candidates, put together a recruitment strategy immediately. Don't forget to draw out passive candidates as well as search for active ones.
Saying goodbye to a valued colleague is never easy. By managing the departure professionally, you are creating an opportunity to demonstrate generous leadership and also widening your circle of influence.