Newsletter No. 14 February 2009

Greetings from snowy, cold (and now wet) Gloucestershire. We were pleased to hear from several of you about our last newsletter on the WonderWeb of Possibilities (©P. Lustig 2006). People were intrigued by the way the WonderWeb allowed them to map out and link up all their own possibilities, and excited by the emerging connections and links between themselves and their organisations.

As we have said, despite our Prime Minister’s mention of the ‘D’ word, we are quite positive about business. Yet the environment around us is getting more and more volatile, uncertain and ambiguous which can feel mighty uncomfortable. In times such as these, the organisations (and people) who confidently survive are those who are sufficiently agile and have the ability to respond quickly and pro-actively to what is happening around them. Gaining a clearer understanding of your own deeply held values (and equally importantly the fundamental values of your organisation) can help you to respond with the necessary agility. For more read on….

In this issue:

Best wishes from the LASA Team

Latest thinking

Understanding your core values – at work and at play

Why do you need to know what your values are? We contend that having a clear understanding of what your values are gives you clarity about your own boundaries. It helps you to be clear on what is important and what is not; so that you have the confidence to make difficult decisions quickly if that is necessary. In a sense you are doing your homework - preparing for a time when you don’t have much time to consider alternatives or when all the alternatives you could decide upon are very difficult. You not only become more agile in your response and leadership, you feel more confident (and consistent) about the decisions and choices you make. Communicating these values clearly to your colleagues and teams enables them also to make better decisions within this “framework of values” leading to greater consistency and integrity throughout the organisation. They can then operate within the framework of ‘Commander’s Intent’.

We do a lot of work with leaders and their teams in helping them not only to articulate their values, but also to live them because people and organisations that do so are not only more agile, they are more effective, less toxic and more profitable. Here is a simple exercise that you can do to coach yourself through ‘uncovering’, articulating and confirming what your fundamental values are.

In Newsletter No. 1 (click here to see it), we talked about your need to be self aware before you can manage yourself. Only then will you become more aware of others and manage your relationship with them. Understanding what your values are and what values drive your leadership, is part of becoming self aware.

Let’s start by examining how you spend your time. We call this exercise ‘A Day in the Life’

A Sample Day in the Life
Activity Av. Hrs /Day
Meals with family (including preparation) 2
Commuting 2
Conference calls 2
Emails 2
Writing articles/reports 2
Meetings 4
Exercise 0.5
Personal 0.5
Television 1
Reading 1
TOTAL 17

Next, draw a pie chart and fill it in. Think about what this means to you.

  • How are you spending your time?
  • Is the majority of the time spent on things that are important to you?
  • Does anything jump out at you?
  • What is missing from your day?
  • What are you communicating (with your actions) about yourself as a leader and about what is important to you?
  • What are you communicating to your family and friends about what is important to you?
  • Does this match up with your values?

From this you can start to think about the values that drive your leadership. This is a time for reflection and perhaps journaling (writing your reflections in a journal) if that works for you. In thinking about which values are your drivers, keep questioning what lies behind each value and what lies behind that, going deeper and deeper until you reach the fundamental values that are dearest to you. This is likely to be no more than 3-5 basic values that are at your core, are very personal to you, that you are passionate about.

From a Google search, the definition of ‘values’ is: beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something).

And further: In general, important and enduring beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or desirable and what is not. Values exert major influence on the behaviour of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.

For instance, one of my deeply held values is around being authentic. I know that when I am unauthentic in any way, I feel deeply uncomfortable and come across as not being aligned. At the same time, it can be very uncomfortable to be authentic too! It means that I will say ‘I don’t know’ if I don’t, or tell a client that I’m not the best person to help in a particular area (if that is true). So being authentic requires courage; for me the courage is a measure of how I live one of my fundamental values.

Another of my values is contribution - I look to make a difference in the world and make the world a better place for all. I would like to be useful and add value for others and am quite passionate about this. So, for example, it immediately felt right to grasp the opportunity, at the end of 2008 when the financial crash was at its lowest point, to become part of a new movement for change, Creating Futures - Beyond Profit (see link in Links section), whose vision is to “[harness] the questioning momentum across the globe to enable significant change in our financial systems, the way we do business, the way we lead our businesses and our lives”. We have to change, but it needn’t be toxic if we all do what we can.

Living my values means having a deep respect for others and treating everyone, regardless of who they are, with respect. It means listening deeply. It means seeing the hero in each person. It means enabling others to develop and shine if I can help in any way. It means never forgetting that this is what I am here in service of.

This is not to say that I always behave with the highest integrity! But it is something I work towards. And if I don’t respect this value, if I don’t keep to it, I feel deeply uncomfortable. Perhaps not immediately, but it will nag at me until I reflect and see where I have crossed that value boundary. It means things like looking the people who serve me in the eye when they are doing so and acknowledging them as people. It means treating them with respect, perhaps even using their name when I address them. It means knowing people’s names at work, the security staff, the receptionists, and the staff in the restaurant, not just the colleagues I work closely with.

Values often go hand-in-hand. You could argue that Integrity is a principle or way of behaving. And you can argue that integrity means ‘doing what you say you will’ but for me it also means being ethical and honest and because of that, it too is one of my fundamental values.

The importance here is for you to be clear about what you mean and therefore where your boundaries are. And to think about what you will do if they are crossed or threatened. Do the values discovered in the exercise above suggest that those that matter for you as a person differ from those you have as a leader in your organisation? If they are different – why? Does this lead to stress, inconsistency? Why can’t you take your values to the office? What would be the benefit to the organisation if you did take your values to the office? How could you and your organisation benefit from having a common set of shared values?

To do this in organisations, each person must first be quite clear about what their own values are and how they align with the organisation’s values. Then there are several ways we could work, but all of them involve working as a team to uncover what the organisation is in service of, what its highest purpose is (by this I mean the top purpose which encompasses the rest), what the guiding values need to be in order to achieve that purpose and whether or not the team’s values align with what the organisation’s values need to be. Organisations that wish to make the most of understanding their values do this work to discover and articulate shared values with the entire organisation, not just with a top team cascading their ideas down to the rest.

We are very interested to hear what you discover and invite you to share examples of your personal core values and if you know the values of your organisation, how aligned with your own they are.

If you are interested in doing some value work with your business, then get in touch: we are happy to help you learn how to become a more agile, effective and consistent organisation.

� Patricia Lustig, 2009

Latest Books

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

By Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
Published by Penguin

I was driving down the motorway and listening to Radio 4 (as you do) when I heard Benjamin Zander interviewed as he had been running some workshops at The World Economics Forum at Davos. I was so excited by what he was discussing – The Art of Possibility – that I ordered his book. This is the book I wish I had written. This is a wonderful, abundant book, full of how to generate possibility in your life. I think it is the antidote to all the doom and gloom we hear in the media these days. It is easy to read, it is fun, it is full of stories to illustrate the 12 practices that are suggested and it touches my soul.

The first practice is called “It’s All Invented” about how our words create our reality and how we invent it… so we step outside of our box if we can figure out how. The first step (of course) is recognising that the box is there. The next is ‘Stepping into a Universe of Possibility” to which I respond with a big YES! I love number 3 which is about “Giving an A” – in my lexicon this is about helping people to find the hero within them and to recognise it in everyone (see above). And so it goes, each practice building upon the next and finally ending with “Telling the WE story”. This is a well written, uplifting book which gets my vote as the best book I’ve read in the last year. Read it, enjoy, and multiply your possibilities!

IT Corner

Mail Away From Home

When you’re away from home with your laptop and you get an internet connection, do you find that you can receive emails but not send them? If so, then this might help you.

It will not work for everyone, however, if you are a small company with no IT department who has your own domain and webhosting, you should benefit. I’m also assuming that you use MS Outlook.

First some background: mail being received is handled differently from that being sent, in fact they connect to different servers to carry out the operation. To receive emails, it is normal to connect to a POP3 server, here your PC will ask the server what mail it has got and the server responds with a list of mail headers. The PC will then check against the ones it already has read and request those it has not. Depending on your Outlook setting the mail on the server will be deleted or left. It is normal to set this to delete immediately. However, if you have a Blackberry or similar, you need to delay the deletion, otherwise the Blackberry will not be able to pick up the mail. The POP3 server will always be wherever the domain your email address uses is hosted.

The send process connects to an SMTP server. Here each outgoing message is sent in turn, the message is not marked as sent till the receiving server confirms it has received it all correctly. In the default setup, you will use the SMTP server of your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and that is frequently a problem since they will not let you connect to it unless you are connected directly to their network. The solution is to change the SMTP server used by Outlook.

To do that you need to connect to your domain hosting company’s SMTP server i.e. the same place as the POP3 server. You need to visit their website and the help / support pages to find out the address of their SMTP server so that you can connect to it and request the login details (normally the same as your POP3 details).

To set up on Outlook, see:
http://products.secureserver.net/email/email_outlook.htm.

Good luck!

Interesting Links

Sunset Over Daglingworth Sunset Over Daglingworth in snow
© PMLustig December 2008

Latest News from LASA

  • The February 3rd Creating the Future – Beyond Profit workshop in Bristol got postponed to March 5th due to a blizzard on the day. The pricing has changed to reflect our passion about doing something different. We are asking for expenses only and on the day, at the end of the session, participants pay (over and above expenses) what they though it was worth for them and what they can afford. We want as many people participating as possible and ask only that people remember that we need to make an income too.
  • Tricia and Gill Ringland's article "Talent Management Needs to be Future Proofed" was published in the January 2009 issue of Developing HR Strategy published by Croner.
  • Nic was asked to present a proposal to Quality & Equality for updating their website and creating a new application for them to simplify the administration of their course subscriptions.
  • Nic continues his development work on LASA's Virtual Learning System.

Quotes

We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. ~ Aristotle

Price is what we pay. Value is what we get. ~ Warren Buffet

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
~ Edmund Burke

Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.
~ Stephen Covey

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.
~ Roy Disney

The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self. ~ Albert Einstein

Treating people with respect will gain one wide acceptance and improve business. ~ Tao Zhu Gong (500 BC)

The value of life is not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet very little. ~ Michel de Montaigne

The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.
~ Albert Schweitzer

Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. ~ Dalai Lama

Values provide perspective in the best of times and the worst.
~ Charles Garfield

Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.
~ Joshua Loth Liebman

Joke corner

The 'Middle Wife' by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

One day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday'.

'First, Mum and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mum's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

'Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mum starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mum to lie down in bed like this.' (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall).

'And then, pop! My Mum had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!' (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!).

'Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe.’ They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mum's play-centre, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there.'

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest.

LASA Website

If this interests you, there are other interesting resources on the LASA Insight website so why not take a look by going to www.lasa-insight.com

Comments and Feedback

If you have any comments or feedback on - or suggestions for - this newsletter then please email them to us  here

@Patricia Lustig 2008