Free to Speak: Are your words building or dividing?

Chery Gegelman Winning Well International SymposiumPeople that work with winning well leaders...
Last week, I leveraged some extreme examples from our time in the Middle East to emphasize 6 Ways to Transform a Divisive Culture  in the Winning Well International Symposium.
 
This week, I’m sharing more of our experiences and encouraging each of you to apply some of those learning’s to your lives and leadership.

Have you ever pondered the reasons or benefits of free speech?

  • In nations?
  • Or workplaces?

The purpose of being able to speak freely

Obviously speaking freely is not allowed in many nations or workplaces.

That choice:
  • Lowers leadership accountability and potential.
  • Impacts the way two people or thousands of people work together.
  • Determines how well resources are utilized and how quickly problems are solved.
  • Limits the overall health, effectiveness, and future of their workplace or nation.

Speech was controlled in the place we lived for four years, in many ways.  Below are a few examples:

In a divided world: We have more than two choices

The third option requires our brains AND our hearts

We have more than two choices... Really!

Have you ever had a small child run to you in fear?  (Of the boogeyman under the bed, the barking dog, or the crack of thunder?)

How do you respond?

Do you ignore them?  Do you dismiss them?  Do you call them boogey-phobic, dog-phobic, or noise-phobic?  Do you make fun of them?  Or do you shine a light under the bed and explain why they are safe?  Take them to meet the neighbor’s dog and see that he is friendly?  Or explain how thunder works?

Have you been a titled leader in a business and heard employees expressing concerns about fairness or potential layoffs?

How have you responded?

Do you get defensive and angry that they dare to question you?  Do you blow off their concerns?  Do you talk down to them?  Or do you hear them and respond with understanding, compassion and honesty?

communication, discussion, dialogueHave you watched divisive current events and taken a side?  And then heard from a family member, friend, coworker or neighbor that has taken the other side?

How have you been responding?

Are you ignoring them?  Unfriending them?  Labeling them?  Shouting at them?  Making fun of them?  Or are you seeking first to understand what is driving them?

Great parents, leaders and friends – listen to questions and fears without anger or labels, or a dismissive attitude.  They seek to understand, and then shine a light under the bed and address real and imagined concerns.  They are honest about real challenges and about their commitment to their people.  

The Great Divide and How You Can Build a Bridge To Cross It

We’ve been back in the U.S. for nearly 6 weeks. Watching the divide we witnessed across the ocean.  Aching as it appears to be growing deeper and wider.

I know I’m not alone in my concern for our country or in my desire to be a part of the solution. Several of my leadership connections have been sharing both struggles and wisdom in their blogs.

Alli Polin, Erin Schreyer, Steve Keating and Jesse Lyn Stoner have each written important articles to help us build bridges across that divide.

  • Each of the image quotes below highlight something from their articles that I found especially powerful.
  • Each of their original articles are linked after each image through their name.

If you are struggling with the current state of our union – I encourage you to:

  • Read each one
  • Watch the Conversation Safari video at the end of this post

And then make strategic choices to be the change you want to see

Is coaching yourself possible?

What if you could make your emotions obey your logic?

This weekend, we spent time with my sister and her family.  Several years ago they adopted a three-year-old little boy.

Jason was born with a genetic condition and under the influence of the drugs and alcohol that his birth mother used during her pregnancy.  Collectively, all of those things impact his cognitive abilities.

Jason is a beautiful soul that loves life, people and all kinds of animals.  But there are days that he struggles with emotions, decisions and expressing himself.

Over the weekend, I heard stories from his big sister and his mom about times he is having a challenging day.  In those moments, they’ve heard him coaching himself with words like these:

  • “Gotta be nice, calm down.”
  • “You know that’s disrespectful.”
  • “It hurts her feelings when you do that”
  • “Why do you do that?”
  • “I don’t know why, it’s just hard sometimes”

When I shared the story with my husband he was impressed that Jason was trying to use logic to govern his emotions.

He is a pre-teen with the mind of a little boy and a heart that is more mature than many adults.

The Inspiring STANDS of A Real Leader

For the business, his team and his family

The world is crying out for leaders who build up, nurture and enhance, rather than tear down, exploit & dominate.

Real leaders know that they can’t fight every battle.

But their values are crystal clear long before they are faced with critical decisions. So when a situation demands it they don’t hide, cower or flock…

This post honors the stands of a REAL LEADER that spent several years working overseas.

When the business struggled, this leader:

  • Offered solutions: By reminding peers and executives that they could SIGNIFICANTLY decrease expenses, and increase efficiency, effectiveness, customer retention and revenue by holding people accountable to policies that were already in place.
  • Spoke the hard truth: By pointing to the root cause of issues instead of agreeing with popular thinking that only treated symptoms.
  • Maximized the resources he had: By playing to his strengths and the strengths of his team and leveraging old assets he kept expensive and critical operations running for nearly an entire year without a budget.

When five rounds of layoffs came, this leader practiced: