The Mask, The Terminator, and the 98 Yr Old Leader

Focused on Wednesday. Lost on Thursday. And each afternoon feels like a Friday. 

It’s hard to stay focused these days, right? I know it’s not just me, as many of my coaching clients are saying the same. And my neighbors and my friends.

You might feel productive one day and then lost the next. The commute is gone, so, wow, you’re “home” early, and it’s nice and warm outside (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Is it a Friday? Maybe. Not sure. 

For this newsletter, I have a collection of links and ideas as well as updates on what I’ve been up to with Awesome Leader projects. They come together in a casual Friday-like manner. 

My thoughts captured by Others: Mentions in the The Economist (Managing Up) and Lattice (Professional Development)

“Sycophants are suffering during this pandemic.”

I’ve read and loved The Economist for years, and my thoughts are now in it.  Sycophants are out of luck. Managing up = building and maintaining relationships with your manager and other people you see as stakeholders. Focus on the relationship building.

If you want more managing up resources, reply back with “Help me influence my manager” or anything like that, and I will share my “Breaking Down Managing Up in 30 Minutes” guide. 

Need thoughts on setting goals for your development at home, err, at work? Good recommendations, including my thoughts, in this Lattice article.

Great Content Coming Your Way: Management Training, Executive Presence, & Interviewing Around Soft Skills

First, the first online training program under the Awesome Leader umbrella is ready in July.

I’ve taken all the tips and tricks I’ve shared with leaders and teams over the last 20+ years and created an online, on your own pace, when you want it, 15 minutes at a time training program: Awesome Manager. Learn how to set goals, delegate, give feedback, tackle performance challenges, and more. Weekly group coaching calls, a private online forum for each company/cohort where a coach (me) shares thoughts and answers. I will share more soon, and if you want it sooner/now, email me.

Second, I’m working on some new content around executive presence and building and maintaining relationships. From a distance, of course. Details coming in two weeks. It will be an online workshop. Have a need to get this to your leaders now? Send me an email.

Finally, I’m finalizing content around great behavioral interviewing questions and how to get solid answers from candidates. So many of you are still hiring. Keep doing it! And you need to ask better questions and focus on hearing the whole story from candidates. This will be an online workshop and with lots of resources. I’ve been coaching engineers to ask questions around soft skills since 1998. Dang! Maybe it hasn’t been that long . . . Anyway, this is one of my favorite things: helping people ask better questions that make getting answers easier. So, more soon.

It’s Not Rocket Science: The Mask Debate

Your political party doesn’t matter: just wear the mask.

I love this video of five California governors describing how easy and important it is to wear a mask (plus, it’s the law here).

Some of you outside of California may not remember Arnold Schwarzenegger once held the gubernatorial (I love that word) office, and he’s in the video, too. I appreciated his no-bs style as a governor, and he’s keeping it real when he recently said, “Anyone making it a political issue is an absolute moron who can’t read.” You should have known he’d be back . . . (did you not see that coming???)

Does it need to be a debate? No. It’s hecka cool to wear one (Do not get into the rat hole of learning about where “hecka” came from and how it compares to “hella.” I’m not leading you down the black hole of NorCal urban language development. I do think I spent half of 1983 saying those words, though, depending on the age of the adults around me.)

BTW, the Awesome Leader ostrich is supporting a Pride mask for the rest of June. Get your head out of the sand.

Talking or Acting When It Comes to Racism

Talking or acting? This Harvard Business Review article ponders that point, and it succinctly describes some steps beyond pondering: Identify the harm without being defensive; get specific about internal and external actions; deal with the discomfort; be accountable.

Also, check out this great list of anti-racism resources from my friend Liz Dennery at Liz is well known for branding and marketing development and has a passion for working with women—and fighting racism.

Race, Health, Gender, Work, and Opportunity

One of my clients is Kaiser Permanente, a not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Oakland, CA, serving 12.4 million members.

There’s a lot more behind Kaiser than its health services. Kaiser Steel built warships during WWII, and to build a lot of ships and build them fast, they needed and hired women (shocker #1) for professions such as welding, pipe fitting, and drafting (shocker #2). These women inspired the now-famous Rosie the Riveter poster (which only became popular/well known in the 1980s).

In Richmond, CA, at a former shipbuilding site is the Rosie Riveter Park. As Rosies and others welded, drafted, and built ships during WWII, Kaiser created daycare centers and had healthcare for its workers—in the 1940s (shocker #3).

At the Rosie the Riveter Park is a park ranger named Betty Reid Soskin. At 98, Betty is the oldest National Service Park ranger. She’s also the great-granddaughter of a slave. The documentary “No Time to Waste” tells Betty’s story about her mission to fill in some of the missing chapters of America’s history. There are many missing chapters.

Here’s one of Betty’s thoughts:

“What gets remembered is determined by who’s in the room doing the remembering.”

Here’s my leadership lesson, prompted by Betty’s thoughts:

1. Look around
2. Learn who is in the room (and who isn’t; who should be there?)
3. Choose to listen to their stories
4. Ask questions
5. Decide what to do and say—and then keep your word

Is that leadership? Hell, yes.

As the Rosies said, “We can do it.”

PS In 2019, I met a Rosie named Marian at a Kaiser event. I sure hope I can be coming to parties when I’m in my 90s (hella cool).