Note: This originally appeared as a client e-letter on April 1, 2016
Dear Clients and Colleagues:
Bringing back a previous format for this month's letter. Here are some short bursts, or in this case, the seven dwarfs of observation and interpretation:
1.) Quit obsessing over Donald Trump. Both directions -- to the negative and positive. What works for him only works for The Donald. With all due respect to business media who have to write something, there are no key lessons learned (accentuated using Dana Carvey voice) based on what Trump has been able to accomplish. Not even his Twitter prowess can be replicated across everyone's self proclaimed integrated platforms. Ben Carson had as many Facebook followers but never caught fire like the Donald has. Get a message or idea that connects -- good, bad or ugly -- if you're really that desperate for exposure.
2.) Political affiliations aside, who are you supporting for President? Why? Business leaders need to be prepared to provide an answer this time around. Blending into the wall paper, giving money to both sides and having mealy mouth answers when asked is fading like the same color of that wallpaper. Kathleen Parker is spot on with the following: "There's a price to pay for silence." True that! https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/few-republicans-have-shown-the-courage-to-stand-against-trump/2016/03/22/08ee8c88-f067-11e5-85a6-2132cf446d0a_story.html?wpisrc=nl_pdrainbow
3.) Remember, social media only echoes current sentiment. Social media, or any media for that matter, doesn't lead and direct anything except piles of information and attention deficit. Quit posting the passing article of the day if you don't have something worth adding from your own point of view. Obviously there are exceptions here but not many in a leadership context.
4.) Small talk can lead to larger engagement. Have we forgotten how to talk, much less engage with each other in normal conversation? Here are some reminders for those who still choose to speak to each other. Lead with the weather to create small talk. Don't discuss politics or religion unless you're consulting a politico or minister. Genuine engagement with others now officially represents a task for some, not a normal past-time. Soon there will be a smartphone campaign with the following slogan: "Look Up!"
5.) Encourage, encourage, ENCOURAGE. Even McKinsey, masters of everything leadership- and matrix-driven, cites encouragement as the number one leadership responsibility. Unlike the recent SHRM study that repeated the same tired necessary attributes to be a leader, good looks, stature, image, etc., encouragement is actually something you can do that benefits others. How many times did someone encourage you today? Return the favor to receive the favor. Simple yet not widely held practice.
6.) Keep moving past web-based platitudes such as the one the Korn Ferry Hay Stack posted the other day: "Majority of Fortune's Most Admired Companies say they have leaders of tomorrow," or something stupid to similar effect. Countless others not worth mentioning. Most serious observers quit putting stock in the commercially obsessed Fortune lists a long time ago, yet that message hasn't reached down yet. Not to worry. The next generation will put that one to final rest soon enough.
7.) Finally, get some rest. The leadership industrial complex is now espousing a lot of down time to find yourself or the "white space" necessary to remain highly charged and creative. Whatever. Try unplugging and raising a glass with trusted friends. Type A obsessions can be re-channeled when you get back to the office. A pre-existing client emailed last week to say they were taking some much needed time off. Bravo! I can't remember getting that type of message from someone in the Left Brain crowd. Some of my dear friends don't even realize how tired they look sometimes.