Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey

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July / August / September 2008
Does it Have to be Business as Usual?

Here it is, the beginning of September already. Many of us have taken our long-anticipated vacations from work, and now it is back to business as usual. But...does it have to be? If business as usual is leaving you unmotivated, unenergized and unconnected from your work and your staff, what can YOU do to elevate your work environment to a whole new level. What does it take to build and sustain a work environment where everyone works for the betterment of the organization, and teamwork is cohesive and productive? There are four characteristics that a work environment must have in order for people to feel free enough to be the best they can be. These four characteristics are:

1.    Honest, open communication
2.    Trust in each other
3.    Collective responsibility for what the team does
4.    Pride in the organization


1.    Nothing builds trust in a leader more than the leader's willingness to communicate honestly and openly to his/her staff. Our staffs are far more resilient than we give them credit for. I have had many employees tell me "I can take it...I can take what my manager tells long as I believe he/she is being honest and open with me." So why do we resist? Why do we find it hard to sit down and communicate what is going on or how we feel?

It takes time. To sit down with your team as a whole, or certainly to speak to each member individually, it takes time away from all the other things we have to do each day. Hardly seems worth it. BUT IT IS. In exit interview after exit interview when asked the question "why are you leaving?" employees have stated "my manager doesn't let me know what is going on; I feel out of the loop; I don't feel important; I don't feel a connection with my manager or supervisor." 75% of people who quit don't quit the company, they quit their managers!

Find some time in your schedule to connect and communicate with your staff. Perhaps 20 minutes each day to see one person. Set the timeframe and the guidelines so that you and your staff member know the parameters. Have that person be thinking about what he/she would like to discuss with you in those 20 minutes. If your staff member has no pressing issue, take the time to get to know that person better. Ask him/her about future goals they might have, aspirations for the future, and how you can help with those goals. Establishing this connection with your staff on an individual basis will reap rewards for you in loyalty, commitment and buy-in. Don't look at this as just one more thing you have to do; it is the basis for a working environment that will bring out the best in ALL of you.

2.    Along with trusting you, the members of your team must be able to trust each other. They have to trust that each member of the team acts in ways that are for the betterment of the team, not for individual benefit. That trust may not come right away, as today's teams are comprised of people from different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and worldviews. They may have different ways of working and communicating. However, with time, trust can be achieved. A cohesive team where everyone is working towards the same vision is a vibrant, creative, energetic and engaged team. As the team leader you can help the team build trust in each other by having the team see themselves through your eyes. Appreciate in them what they may not be able to see. Compliment, encourage, coach and mentor your team, and they will start to do the same for each other.

"Members of your team need to see themselves through your eyes
so that they may see how they really are, not how they think they are. A leader has to show the face his team needs to see. People want to be on a team. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good."
                                             Mike Krzyzewski
                                             Duke University Basketball Team

3.    When team members trust each other, they work as one. As soon as a team achieves a group mentality, it can assume a group identity. And ordinary people with commitment can make an extraordinary impact in your organization. When a team assumes a collective responsibility, there is no scapegoating. It is so refreshing to see members of a team take responsibility for what was done, rather than finger pointing and blaming. Encourage your team to periodically ask themselves as a team "why are we doing this?" and "why does this matter?" These types of questions keep your team members engaged with each other, and keep them thinking as one. Each person has a different role to play, but each person and each role is part of the whole. That is the team mentality you want your team to work from. I came across the following quote that seems very appropriate to this issue:

"The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to
grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that
you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the
pleasure you have brought to other people's lives than you
will from the times that you outdid and defeated them"

                                                       Rabbi Harold Kushner

Take some time for reflection and ask yourself "Am I doing anything that may be causing my team members to distance themselves from each other?" Am I inadvertently fostering a you lose-I win attitude on my team? If you don't know the answers to these questions, be willing to ask your team and get their feedback.

4.    Are you proud of the organization you work for? Do you show that pride in the work you do and the way you speak about your organization? What do you do in your interactions with your team that shows your pride in your organization? Your team will take its cue from you. People stay with an organization when they have pride in that organization, when the organization's values mesh with theirs. Do you know what your company stands for? Does you company have a vision/mission statement and do you know what it is? Has the organizational vision filtered down to your team so that everyone is reading from the same page?  I ask you these questions because pride in the organization is one of the main reasons people stay in their jobs. They are proud to work for the company; they don't have to apologize for it with statements such as "oh well, it's a living." What can you do to continually foster that pride in your organization?

First of all, please remember that you make a difference. You make an impact on the people who report to you. You can foster that pride by the way you handle yourself and your job. Do you come from integrity, i.e., when you say you will do something, do you do it? Can your staff trust that when you tell them something, you are telling the truth? If you tell your staff this is a customer-oriented organization, how do you treat your staff? They will treat your customers exactly the way they are treated by you. Do you enjoy your job, and are you proud of the work you do?

I know I have asked you to ask yourself a lot of questions in this Newsletter, but the time and courage it takes to answer these questions will be worth it. We live in such a fast-paced, technology-oriented world, that it is very easy to lose touch with the truth of leadership. Leadership is the ability to achieve results through others. Your ability to connect and communicate with your staff, to establish an environment of trust and caring in your team, and to role model what pride in an organization looks like, will be the benchmark by which your leadership ability will be measured.

We have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you have any insights, feedback or experiences you would like to share, please e-mail me. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. NOTE: I had the pleasure of presenting "You've Got to be Present to Win" at Unity Church in Santa Barbara for their two Sunday Services yesterday. I was honored to be their Guest Speaker, and I extend a hearty welcome to all of you who signed up to receive this Newsletter.

About the Author

Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and healthcare. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables and can be a master of ceremonies for your event...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.

Phone: (805) 964-7546
FAX: (805) 964-9636

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