Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

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

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October 2006
The Four-Way Test

Here it is October 18th and I am just sitting down to write this Newsletter. My apologies to all my readers for getting this Newsletter out so late to you this month. I have been on the road all month doing what I love best ... speaking to business and healthcare professionals who give of themselves each and every day to make this world a better place to live in.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of keynoting the Annual Conference of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. What a dedicated group of nursing professionals. They spend their days helping patients recover from life-changing injuries and diseases, and they teach patients how to live again with dignity and hope, in spite of the challenges they face. I also spent an amazing afternoon presenting a Chapter Leadership Workshop to the Presidents of all the state chapters of ARN. We looked at ways to recruit and keep volunteers, the life blood of every chapter. A hearty welcome to all of you who have joined the database of people receiving this Newsletter.

Last Sunday I had the honor of keynoting the 2006 Rotary District 5240 Conference. Talk about making the world a better place to live in. I had never spoken for Rotary before, so I did my research. Was I impressed! Rotarians throughout the world are involved in vital and life-saving projects, particularly in third-world countries. However, they do excellent work in their own individual communities to help eradicate poverty, violence and disease. The membership is comprised of people from all walks of business, government, healthcare, education, non-profits, and retired people who devote all their time to Rotary. My hat is off to all of you for the work you do, and welcome to all of you who signed on to receive my Newsletter.

In doing my Research for my Rotary talk, I discovered that they follow the guidelines of The Four-Way Test, four questions they ask themselves in order to promote high ethical standards in their professional lives. I believe these four questions will give us much food for thought, hence they are the topic of this Newsletter.

Of the things we think, say or do:

1.        Is it the TRUTH?
2.        Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3.        Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4.        Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Is it the TRUTH?  This gets to the heart and soul of leadership. A benchmark of effective leadership is the ability to influence and empower others to get the job done. If that is how I will be judged, you might ask, couldn't I lie if it will help me meet my goals? Wouldn't the end result justify what it took to get there? The answer, of course, is no. Authenticity is the single most important quality of leadership. In order to influence and empower others, it is imperative that the people who work for you see you as authentic and respect you. In multitudes of employee surveys, when the question is asked: "What quality do you respect most in your leader?" the answer almost always is "He or she tells me the truth." The people who work for you may be much more resilient than you give them credit for. They can take what you tell them, as long as they know it is the truth. When you have buy-in and commitment from your staff to help you achieve your goals, the truth is your mightiest weapon. They are already in your corner, they will go to bat for you as long as they know you have their concerns at heart, you are honest, and you are speaking your truth.

"People will tolerate honest mistakes,
but if you violate their trust you will find
it very difficult to ever regain their confidence.
It is the reason you need to treat trust as your
most precious asset. You may fool your boss,
but you will never fool your colleagues or
                                    Craig Weatherup
                                    Chairman and CEO


Is it FAIR to all concerned? When you have a decision to make, one of the toughest issues you will face is the fairness of that decision. In today's businessworld, the emphasis is on the bottom line. Business and healthcare leaders are constantly looking at ways to increase the profit, and today's workplace is becoming a battle between cost and compassion. Many companies have had to outsource positions, indeed whole departments, in order to be able to continue to pay for the healthcare and other benefits for the rest of the employees. Is that fair? It depends on who you ask. If you ask the employees who lost their jobs, of course it is not fair. If you ask the company leaders responsible for the bottom line, it was the fairest decision they could come up with, given the complexity and probable consequences of any decision made.

A number of years ago I consulted with a company who was going through that infamous RIF (reduction in force) and I sat with the manager of a department as he agonized over who should be let go and who should remain. This company relied on a few large contracts for their business, and when one contract would not be renewed, they had to let people go. This manager impressed me so when he spoke to those he had to let go. He told them how he had agonized over this decision, and he emphasized that he was eliminating positions, not people. He explained it had nothing to do with their performance. They performed their jobs very well, however, their jobs were being eliminated. Frankly, a situation like this is a no-win all the way around, but at least he spoke his truth. Not every decision can be fair, but if you tackle a difficult problem coming from the premise that it will be fair to all concerned, you set the stage for the best possible outcome for the highest good.

Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? When you have to make a decision that involves customers, accounts, patients, employees, other staff, this is the question to ask. I am sure we have all made a decision at one time or another to sacrifice the bottom line to gain and/or keep the good will of a customer. This is the same within an organization. Will the decision you make enhance the goodwill and friendships on your staff or team, or will it tear them apart? The workplace today is very diverse. You have teams comprised of people from many different cultures, backgrounds, age groups, etc., and it takes a delicate balance to have everyone work together in a spirit of collegiality. Once you have a cohesive team that is actively and productively doing their work, you really don't want to mess with that. It is not that easy to achieve.

One way to ensure that your decisions build goodwill and better friendships is to make the team part of the decision-making process. Belonging is one of the basic needs that every person has. Leaders who influence understand this need for a sense of belonging and do things that make people feel included. Effective leaders know they can learn from everyone, and they allow people the opportunity to participate and be included. 

Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned? Is this decision for the highest good? Will this be a positive outcome for all concerned?  When I have a difficult decision to make, I utilize the power of silence to help me make that decision. I sit down in a room that is quiet, I become very still, and I just sit in the silence for awhile. I take a deep breath and wait for some answers to come to me. Silence is so powerful. When we connect with the world's confusion, and we act out of fear or anger, nothing positive comes from that. However, when we just sit quietly, we allow our minds to "breathe" a little, and the silence provides the quiet needed four our minds to generate some decisions, options, and game plans.

I am a reactive person by nature. Many years ago, I heard about this technique of sitting in the silence to give my mind the quiet it needs to make decisions. But, I had no time for that; I was busy. So, when something happened I reacted right away. I had to fix it immediately. I was right there reacting in a minute. Only years later did I realize how unproductive my reactions were. Had I given myself the time and stillness to find another way, I would have been much better off. Now, I utilize the silence whenever I have a decision that involves others so that I can decide if it will be beneficial to all concerned. I hope you will try this strategy the next time you have a decision to make. Allow yourself the time to become still and open your mind up to all sorts of possibilities. You may be very surprised at what you come up with.

"It is not trespassing when you cross your
own boundaries."
                                Author Unknown

We have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you wish to pass it along to a colleague or a friend, feel free to do so. I am now booking speaking engagements for the coming year. I would love to customize my message for your company, organization or association. If you would like me to keynote an upcoming Conference or work in-house with your staff, I would be happy to discuss this with you. For all you nursing professionals, May will be here before you know it. If you would like me to speak at your Nurses Week celebration, let me know.

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 next 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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