Exercise your right to vote on Tuesday!

I made a trip to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago. It was a really interesting time to be there—just before a presidential election. I heard a lot of negative statements and a lot of worry about the economy and the election and the state our country is in.  So I want to show you a quote someone sent to me:

“The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt. People must once again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

Do you know who gets credit for that statement?  Cicero, who supposedly said it in 55 B.C.! I’m strangely comforted by the fact that the world has had some of these same problems for centuries. So I made a choice to come away from Washington, D.C. feeling positive about the future. I think we’re going to pull through this. We’ve got a great country—we can pull out of this debt and solve these problems—particularly if we all hang in there together. 

I was so impressed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he stated publicly this past week that Barack Obama was “outstanding to deal with” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Even though Governor Christie is a Republican and a staunch supporter of Mitt Romney, he didn’t play politics; he praised Obama because he felt praise was due. I thought it was refreshing and I think the American people would love to see more examples of this kind of non-partisan collaboration among our leaders. If our national leaders all had this kind of cooperative mentality, we could pull together and overcome any obstacle in our path. We shouldn’t need something like a hurricane to bring American leaders together as problem-solving partners.

My friend Hyrum Smith recently reissued his 2004 book with the title Pain is Inevitable; Misery is Optional.  That’s tied in with what I believe about our country’s difficulties.  Let’s realize that pain is inevitable—problems are inevitable—but misery is optional.  We don’t have to play the blame game. We can choose to be compassionate and loving and caring. When people want you to join in a pity party about how bad everything is in the country, you can choose not to engage.  You can say, “Okay, what can we do to try and make a positive difference in our own community?” and encourage others to be part of the solution.

So, choose to be positive and to do something about it – and right now, doing something means we all have to get out and vote.  Vote any way you want—just vote.  Decide who you think can really make a difference and help us turn the country around. And don’t forget about the local elections and issues—those are just as important as what’s happening nationally.

We can each make a difference where we are. We can be leaders where we’re planted. Encourage others around you and choose to stay positive. And remember to vote on Tuesday!

My boss acts like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Another big question that I get all the time…

What do you do if you have an unpredictable boss—where you never know who’s going to show up?  One day he’s upbeat and happy and thinks you’re great, and the next day you feel like you’re dealing with an ogre. I suggest two things: The first is to get your resume out there, because you might want to go find another place or another boss. The other thing, which is so important, is to never buy into the idea that your self-worth is a function of your performance plus the opinion of others. If you get hooked into that outlook on life, then your self-worth is up for grabs every day. Why? Because nobody’s performance is great every day. Have you ever noticed how fickle people are? They don’t operate the same way every day, either. So one of the things you need to deal with, if you are dealing with someone with an erratic personality, is that God did not make junk. You are absolutely beautiful. Don’t have your whole day depend on how someone else treats you. Remember that you’re a good person who is loved. Maybe that boss doesn’t quite get it yet. But he or she will.

Points of Power Can Help Self Leadership

The concept of power in the workforce has a negative connotation.  It brings to mind such associations as coercion, manipulation, and even corruption.  This does not have to be the case. Power has many positive aspects, and everyone can learn to explore and harness different sources of the individual power they have in the workplace.  By developing their own sources of power, employees will be less dependent on others for the leadership they need and thus be better able to take initiative and make a greater contribution in their jobs.

In our program called Situational Self Leadership, we take a different perspective on power.  We suggest that “The sole advantage of power is the ability to do more good.” Thus, if you want to do more good for yourself and more good for the people around you, it is important to learn how to tap into your own points of power.

Points of Power.  There are at least five power sources you can develop in any job, all of which relate to each other in varying degrees: Position power, task power, personal power, relationship power, and knowledge power.

Position power is inherent in the authority of the position you have.  You have position power when your business card has a title printed on it that indicates you have the power to manage people or command resources. My dad, an officer in the Navy, used to say, “The best leaders are those who have position power and never have to use it.”

Task power is power that stems from being good at a particular task at work and being able to help others with a process or procedure they may need to do.

Personal power comes from your personal character attributes such as strength of character, passion, inspiration, or a personal vision of the future.  Personal power is further enhanced by the strength of your interpersonal skills, such as your ability to communicate well and be persuasive with others.

Relationship power comes from association with others through friendship, personal understanding of a colleague, cultivation of a relationship, nepotism, or reciprocity (trading favors).

Knowledge power is about having expertise in an area. This is often through knowing a special skill or group of skills in your job, but is also evidenced by having certain degrees or certifications indicating special training.  Knowledge power can often be transferred from job to job or from company to company–it is a general type of power.

Charting Your Points of Power

An enlightening activity is to list a number of workplace situations or conditions where you feel you have the power to influence outcomes or people.  Next to each item, categorize the type of power you have in that circumstance.

Now draw a five-pointed star with ten hash marks from the center to the tip of each point.  From the center of the star, mark off the corresponding number of responses you listed in your assessment of each type of power.  The farthest hash mark you indicate on each arm of the star becomes the new tip of that arm.  Connect these new points.  The resulting graphic should be some semblance of a star, with certain points having more emphasis and others having less. This will show you at a glance your primary points of power.

If you want to be a real star in the workplace, try to develop a strategy to balance the points of power where you work. Some examples:

·       You have high knowledge power due to expertise in analysis and are often asked to analyze situations and report your findings in meetings.  However, you are weak in personal power and a poor communicator.  Your strategy might be to take a presentation skills course or to ask someone to critique a presentation before you give it to the group.

·       You have high task power and need to present an idea to the head of your department, but are somewhat weak in relationship power.  Your strategy could be to ask a coworker who has the ear of the department head to give you feedback on how he or she thinks the department head will react to your idea.

·       You have task power and are working on a very visible project, but you lack position power, which might make it difficult to get support.  Your strategy could be to use your task power to solicit a sponsor or champion who will help promote your project and your credibility.

·       You have personal power, but are weak in relationship power. Your strategy might be to use your social skills to network.  Ask others for instructions, attend meetings of professional organizations, or schedule lunches to help build relationships.

Take advantage of the points of power where you are strong.  Use your power in a positive way to do more good for yourself and those around you.  If people throughout your organization are enabled to develop their sources of power, it could create a more even playing field for everyone. Power doesn’t have to be concentrated in the hands of a few.