This issue of news2use is dedicated to CONTRIBUTION. Let me open with a story about a young couple that was deeply in love, and desperately poor.
Their parents could not have been prouder. Both families wanted the wedding celebration to be the finest and grandest the village had ever seen, however both families were poor beyond description.
The families had an idea. They would put their meager resources together and bring an exquisite feast to everyone in the village. They asked all the guests to bring a flask of red wine and everyone agreed. The proud parents assured everyone that they would manage the rest.
The wedding day arrived and marital vows were exchanged as the parents and everyone in the village watched. After the ceremony, bride, groom and parents stood at the front of the reception line and greeted everyone. Each guest moved past the greeting line and poured the contents of their humble clay containers into the huge celebration urn for later enjoyment.
After greeting the last guest, the proud fathers of the bride and groom dipped their wine glasses deep into the clay urn to toast the couple’s future together and to say thank you to everyone for coming and contributing.
As the two men raised their glasses out of the urn, everyone realized that their glasses were not filled with red wine. Their glasses were clear and filled with water.
The proud moment turned to sadness, and looking out amongst the guests, everyone realized they had played a part in turning a wonderful celebration into a shameful example of what happens when people do not deliver on their promises.
Each of the guests had thought, “Nobody will notice if my flask is filled with water, as all the others will bring wine. ”Yet that was the thinking of all the guests, each believing that if they did not do their part, nobody would notice.
This story is a gentle reminder of what happens when we fail to recognize how important our contribution is to the customer, a teammate and our organization. It is easy to make contributions when we have something important at stake. However, if we are honest with ourselves, can each of us say that we bring “our full flask of wine” to everything we do?
Enjoy this news2use and reflect on your attitude and the culture of contribution around you.
“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”
Contributions are the barometer of personal effectiveness.
As you look back to the start of the year, are you able to identify significant and strategic contributions you have made?
If looking back over the year makes you tired and reminds you of how busy you were, yet frustrated by the lack of significant and strategic contributions along your journey, perhaps it’s time to reframe two common tools for personal effectiveness.
Lists & Calendars. Each plays a role in creating contributions.
Lists keep things from rattling around in your head. After all, we can only do one thing at a time, but we can think about a dozen things at one time. Thinking about many things while doing one thing means the one thing you are doing does not get your full attention. Results are sub-optimal, and a cluttered head leads to stress.
Use a list to clear your head and create some peace of mind. Look at your list as the process of gathering the seeds that later become contributions.
You could be thinking to yourself; “But Dan, I have a list, in fact, many lists and I am not satisfied with my contributions”.
Lists are a good tool to collect the “seeds of contribution”, but until you plant those seeds into your calendar for action, you will always have a bag of seeds.
See for yourself. Take a moment right now and review your list, or write out the four to five most important contributions you want to create before the end of the year. Now open your calendar and look at the days and weeks through the end of the year. Have you planted your seeds of contribution into your calendar?
Lists and calendars. Both are vital to contributions, when used properly.
For You & Your Team
Even if you are not a Formula One racing fan, it is hard not to appreciate the dedication and expertise that helps a racing team to play at its best. Formula One racing is like strategy, it involves a large number of people, working together to achieve a results that could never be managed by any one individual.
Particularly exciting is to watch the pit stop. Everyone contributes to get the driver and the car back into action as quickly as possible. Most drivers stop one to three times over the course of a race; Ayrton Senna stopped five times during the 1993 Grand Prix.
It is impossible to complete a Formula One race without pit stops. How many pit stops do you take to ensure your strategy is running at its best?
Many leadership teams cannot describe the practice and process they use to ensure their strategy takes the needed pit stops. Pit stops play a vital role in the quality and speed of your strategic contributions.
For You, Your Team & Your Business
How does an executive contribution differ from contributions made by others in the organization?
Executive contributions show up in three ways:
First of all, senior leaders make contributions that clarify and strengthen the values and culture of their organization.
Secondly, executives make contributions that develop talent and teams below them.
Lastly, leaders open doors, remove obstacles and help talent get access to resources they need to be successful.
From time to time, I see executives who grow impatient with the speed of their organization and set up “parallel organizations” that do special projects at the request of a particular executive, often the CEO. Yet executives have to be careful that they do not overdo their “executive entitlement” and move too much power and resources into the Executive Project Office.
This demotivates line management, sends confusing signals into the organization and shows a lack of trust that the CEO has for his or her direct reports.
Strive to be an effective executive; use your contributions to strengthen others and not compete with them.
People, Places & Technology
The Essential Drucker, the Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writing on Management should be on every leader’s bookshelf, in my opinion. If you do not have a copy of this book, get one. Mine is from 2001. Drucker’s writings date back far earlier, yet his advice remains relevant today. Chapter 14, “Focus on Contribution”, is ten long pages.
It is the engine block of personal effectiveness.
See that your executive team, your strategic leadership teams and your functional teams read and act on these ten pages.
If you do not feel you have gotten your money’s worth of ideas and advice from these ten pages alone, send me your book and I will buy it back from you.
Thought for the Day
“When I am in a slump, I comfort myself by saying if I believe in dinosaurs,
then somewhere, they must be believing in me. And if they believe in me, then I can believe in me. Then I bust out.”
– Mookie Wilson, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer