My 30th high school reunion is this coming weekend – NSB Barracudas class of 1988! During a bike ride last week, I pondered on the similarities of relationship dynamics in high school and our places of work. Being a part of a team, in school or at work, provides a chance to build lasting relationships and to make a difference in the lives of others. While pedaling along at 16 mph that morning, I focused my thoughts on the following similarities: 1) remember and celebrate; 2) authentic communication; and 3) cheerlead and congratulate.
1) Remember and Celebrate.
Life through our high school years and in the professional world are challenging for varying reasons. Successes and failures seem to alternate on a regular basis. Turned down for a date for prom? Didn’t get a promotion you felt you deserved? You made the varsity team! You surpassed your sales goal for the first time! With these and other happenings over a span of 30 years, you should make time to remember the moments and to celebrate them.
As classmates or colleagues, we are constantly challenged to do more, to be more and to go further. Making it worse, there are leaders that put more focus on blame than improving the behavior required for potential success. Be the one that takes time to remember the ups and down for what they were and to celebrate them in unique ways. We get one trip around – enjoy moments a little more and stress over them a little less! Celebrate mistakes, remember lessons learned. You, your team and your friends will all be better for it.
2) Authentic Communication.
What a difference 30 years should make when it comes to our ability to communicate with classmates or with your colleagues in the workplace. There is no doubt that all of us can improve how we speak to each other. Being authentic in your communication mean letting people know what is expected of them, where they stand with you, and how much you value them. Talking around corners and skipping critical conversations doesn’t build trust. Avoiding confrontation doesn’t allow for valuable exchanges on improvement. Saying what needs to be said – time and place appropriate – can be done with empathy, emotional intelligence and firmness.
A colleague shared once that she gives others the benefit of the doubt at the initial stage of conflict. She trusts in the human condition and believes that inherently people want to do their best for the cause. While I agree, it is necessary as leaders (and friends) that we not shy away from difficult conversations. It’s also necessary to personally – and sincerely – engage in praise for others. As proof of my dedication to Authentic Communication, here is my first blogging effort in 2008 http://mickeysmoore.blogspot.com/. I credit my Leadership Tallahassee experience with helping me commit to authentic communication as a leader.
3) Cheerlead and Congratulate.
I am guilty here – if you know me, you know me to be charismatic, energetic and positive. As a player-coach leader, I strongly value team dynamics – especially in giving credit to the team and having their back when things don’t go so well. Maturity over the years helped me realize that laying blame isn’t the first step in a crisis and that a leader should share good news (results) as a collective effort – not an individual one. Cheering others on is a job of a leader – most people need that extrinsic support to stay motivated and to exceed expectations.
Admittedly, in my younger years (high school through early career) there was a drive to be recognized and given credit for any and all things I did. Through mentoring, education, experience and some failures, the sense of satisfaction in seeing others succeed quelled my own personal interests. Recognition is verbal respect. Congratulate others in special ways to build relationships and loyalty. Success is relative to the individual and aspirations vary from person to person, but the recognition should still be meaningful and as personable as possible. Be attentive and curious! The more we know about our classmates and our colleagues, the more unique our congratulations can be!
I am looking forward to my 30th reunion in New Smyrna Beach – a time to remember and celebrate, to communicate in authentic ways, and to cheer and congratulate classmates. Take time to do those same things with your team today.