"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof."
John Kenneth Galbraith

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 430

Estimated reading time:  3.15 minutes


Good afternoon from the Maple Leaf Lounge at Calgary Airport. I am enroute home after a great couple of days with Alberta’s credit union’s young leaders and the Alberta Central conference. I’ve had a great time, and as always, have come away with something to reflect on.


A theme we explored at the conference was the impact of tech on financial institutions. One comment about tech and marketing caught my ear. One of the interesting directions that tech has driven marketing, is to move us from the mass marketing (blanket the TV and radio airwaves with commercials and hope that someone who is interested will be watching/listening), through market segmentation (address those commercials to specific groups of people based on what they are watching or listening to) to the emerging ability to focus marketing on the individual (we know that Alisdair likes looking at Youtube videos of sharks swimming so we’ll put an ad into his Facebook page about Hawai’an vacations followed by an ad about shark repellent.) 


It got me thinking about how are leadership thinking has changed as well. We imagined employees as parts of a machine, then we thought, there’s a little more humanity than just being a cog, so we’ll focus our efforts on leading groups and teams, and what do we know now? The most important factor in employee productivity is their relationship with their immediate supervisor. It’s all about the individual.


Here are three elements to keep in mind then as you lead people as individuals:


  1. Without trust there is nothing; and trust is built and enhanced by trusting and being trustworthy.
  2. Balance advocacy with inquiry. Yes, you have a point, but more to the point, the person across the table from you has a point. Listen to their point. (That is a fun word to type.) In the old adage from Steven Covey, seek first to understand, then to be understood. 
  3. Face to face (whenever possible) is always better. We are wired to read facial cues and so our ability to understand and enter into dialogue with each other is exponentially better when we are face to face.



The best leaders I know and work with are the people who see other people as discrete and fascinating individuals. They connect with compassion and interest in the well being of other individuals and create an environment when and where those individuals can thrive. May we all strive for that this week.

Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 242

Estimated reading time:  2.00 minutes


Good morning from Vancouver where the cherry trees are in bloom, while the temperature feels more Fall like than it should. In the Christian tradition, we are in the midst of the Triduum. These three days, Maundy Thursday (The Last Supper and Foot Washing), Good Friday (The Crucifixion), and The Great Vigil (Late Saturday into dawn on Easter Sunday are the holiest of holy days in the Christian tradition. 


So what have these three days got to do with leadership?  For me, the Triduum highlights three fundamental roles of leadership:


  1. We are here to serve our people; to create space and opportunity for them to learn and thrive individually and as a group. (Foot Washing)
  2. We are here to lead our people into dark and difficult times, where the key learnings and growth opportunities actually reside (The Last Supper and Crucifixion)
  3. We are here to model patience and compassion, as it takes each of us time to learn and grow into the people we are called to be. (The Great Vigil). Or put another way, we need patience and compassion to know that while the cherry trees are in bloom, it may still be chilly out there, and that is ok. It will be warm again.



May this weekend be filled with humility, courage and compassion for each of you.

Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 114

Estimated reading time:  1.00 minute


Good morning from a rainy Vancouver. The family gathers for my mother’s memorial service on Saturday. Her legacy of humour, love and community service continues in all three of her children and her 6 grandchildren. This weekend will be poignant for this family.


Family does matter. As leaders we are at our best when we are loved and love in family and community. So for this week, spend time with your family (biological or chosen) and relish in the gifts they shower on you.



And if possible hug or call your Mum.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 400

Estimated reading time:  3:15 minutes



Good afternoon from Vancouver!


I’ve been reflecting on how our emotional state can affect not only ourselves, but those around us. Our emotions are, according to the peer reviewed research, contagious. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-wise/201606/emotions-are-contagious In short, if I am in a bad mood in the office, my team and colleagues will pick up on it, and it will spread. 


There are times when I do get frustrated, I am angry, or sad. I know I should not be pushing those away because they can fester inside me. And surely, a “happy, all is well in the world” perspective is a little too sweet. So, what are we to do?


Here are three elements to keep in mind:


  1. Because our emotions are contagious, it is important to experience our negative emotions as privately as possible. Live through them, but not in public. Go for a walk, take some deep breaths, call a confidante, but don’t take your “stuff” out into the office, or frankly, take it home to your family.
  2. Focus as much as possible on gratitude. For example, I have found that being grateful in airports can change my experience of security and airline personnel. I simply show up in the line up with gratitude for the amazing system that works so well, so often and for so many people, and suddenly my mindset changes and interestingly enough so does my experience with other people.
  3. Have compassion for yourself. If you are frustrated or sad, be ok with that. You have a right to your own experiences, and there is nothing wrong with your emotions. (Keeping point number 1 in mind). It might help for example to be curious about what the trigger was; sometimes it’s obvious, but other times we can be triggered without really knowing what happened. Ask yourself about what the trigger could have been? What it might have been caused by. And interestingly, by engaging the thinking part of our brain, the emotional responses will likely be calmed down.


May this week be one filled with alone time, gratitude, and compassion for self, to make us all that much more effective as leaders.



Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 496

Estimated reading time:  3:30 minutes


Good morning from the Maple Leaf Lounge at Vancouver Airport. My early morning flight has been cancelled and I am still not sure I will get to Castlegar, which is fogged in, again. Such is travel in BC in March. I am very fortunate to be able to spend my waiting time in the comfort of the business class lounge here. Most people are not so fortunate.


My good fortune has got me thinking about humility. There is an interesting tendency appearing in the research about wealthy people being less empathetic. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-hutson/the-rich-are-differently-_b_2990395.html Part of this may be related to the narratives wealthy people tell themselves about their own unique and individual success. (here is Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s famous take on the subject, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcFDF87-SdQ ) Simply put, the wealthier I am, the more likely I will see myself as different (and more deserving) from others and that I will have a story about how my individual skills, gifts and strengths got me to where I am.


Take me for example; I sit comfortably ensconced in the Maple Leaf Lounge at YVR, with access to free food and drink, large seats, wi-fi, and TVs. When I board the aircraft later today I will be one of the first on and off the plane and my luggage will be one of the first off the plane as well. This is all due to my “status” as a frequent business flyer. I can easily fall into the assumption that this is all about me. I would be wrong. I so appreciate all of the perks that come with this status, but I need to keep in mind that other people have been working hard and making sacrifices themselves in order for me to be here. The airline employees who are part of a massive network that make air travel so safe and easy.  My team mates in the organizations I serve who ensure that I show up in hotel meeting rooms to find the right boxes with the right stuff at the right time; or who have worked long hours to design and build interventions and processes that make my job that much easier. My friends who all too often listen to me as I tell stories of late and cancelled flights, even though this is the first problem flight I have had in 20 flights so far this year. And of course my family, past and present who have had to make decisions, solve problems, deal with stuff while I have been flying back and forth across the country. While I enjoy the perks of my ‘status’, I did not get here alone. And neither did you.



May this week be filled with discovered humility and gratitude.


Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations


Word count this issue: 323

Estimated reading time:  2:30 minutes


Good morning from an overcast Vancouver. Thank you so much for all of your well-wishes and thoughtful notes about my Mum’s death. They were all appreciated. 


I’ve been thinking about rest recently. I mentioned today to a friend that I had 3 meetings cancel today due to the flu bug going around. She offered that perhaps the universe was telling me I needed to rest. She is a very wise woman indeed.


And I do need to find time to rest more, especially these days. I sleep very well, often getting 8 hours, and according to my wearable device, 4 - 5 hours of deep sleep. The emotional stress I am experiencing due to my grief is taking its toll though, and I find myself a little shorter with people, a little less patient. I know I need to rest. After a meeting later today about my Mum’s estate, I will do just that.


My reflection on this point for us as leaders is, beware of the “staying busy” syndrome. We may not be thinking consciously about the emotional stressor, whatever that might be, but we are processing. Our hearts and minds are hard at work, and they need us to rest to do their jobs properly. 


Here are three ways to build in more restful activities to your day:


Go outside and read for pleasure at lunch. (No, monthly reports do not count.)

Rather than coffee or tea, drink water in meetings. (I can do more if this for sure!)

Take a nap. Seriously, 20 minutes on a sofa will make the word of difference to your brain, especially when you are in the midst of a stressful time. 


May this week find you a little more rest than last week, for your sake and for those around you.