When the going gets tough…

Effective leaders are resilient.

The Resiliency Center was founded by the late Al Siebert, PH.D who studied highly resilient survivors for over fifty years.  The following words are from Dr. Siebert as he discusses problem-solving.

“One afternoon in July, I was teaching a resiliency workshop for a national corporation at their training center near Chicago.  It was a very hot afternoon.  The outside temperature was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  My classroom was on the sunny side of the building and very hot because the air conditioning unit in our room was not working.  The participants and I had turned the thermostat on the wall down to 70 degrees, but the air conditioning unit, located under the window did not respond.

One participant dramatically fanned himself with a piece of paper, with a look on his face that communicated that he was irritated by his discomfort.  You’ve probably seen people who do this.  They become irritated by any discomfort, and draw attention to themselves in ways that indicate that someone is not paying attention to their needs.

Meanwhile, a participant named Brian went over to the air conditioner.  He lifted up a small panel on the top and looked down into the dim interior.  It was an older unit, without clear markings.  He saw a dusty black knob located near the bottom of the unit, about two feet down.  He reached down and turned it.  As soon as he did this, the air conditioner kicked on.  Our room cooled down and we held the class in comfort.”

According to Dr. Seibert, psychologists have lots of research evidence showing that problem-focused coping increases resiliency, while emotion-focused coping impairs resiliency.  This means that when faced with a setback, unexpected difficulty, or challenge, it is smart to focus outward on the challenges.  People who become emotional and make their feelings the focus of attention do not cope well with challenges in life or challenges at work.

Joseph P Kennedy is quoted as saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”

Effective leaders don’t whine about their problems—they do something about them.  Many times it takes someone else to help you.  The key is to work through the challenge, and not to let it beat you. 

Can you share an example of being resilient in the context of leadership?

Effective leaders are courageous…

Effective leaders are willing to face the ugly stuff.

One practice I worked with was, at the time, experiencing some upheaval in the ranks.  There was some unhappiness and disillusionment on the part of the staff.  The two doctors knew what the issues were—they’d heard the complaints many times.

Finally, time had been set aside, and a special meeting had been scheduled in order to discuss the specific issue.  However, as the staff was gathering in the front office at the designated meeting start time, they noticed the two doctors leaving from the side door of the office.  The staff quickly realized that the doctors were not going to be at the meeting! 
The poor office manager had been given the responsibility of discussing this very important issue with the team.  She showed the courage of a lion, while the two doctors acted quite sheepishly.

Even though the office manager did what she could, so much trust had been broken between the leaders and their team, that the problem was NEVER resolved.  Many key team members left.

These two doctors may have thought they were going to escape the issue by letting someone else deal with it, but the reality was that their problems just got bigger because they wimped out.
Have you been witness to a courageous leader?
Have you been witness to a wimpy leader?

Characteristics of EFFECTIVE Leadership

Effective leaders, in my opinion are:

What does it mean for a leader to be knowledgeable?

I don’t believe it means that the one in charge HAS to know EVERYTHING.  On the contrary, most effective leaders understand that they can’t possibly know everything.  Strong leaders are those who rely on the talents, skills and knowledge of individual team members to ensure success of the team collectively.

Just as Carl Jung said, “The true leader is always led”, effective leaders understand that when they allow their team to excel according to their strengths, then the leader becomes stronger, not weaker.

I’m anxious to hear about your definition of a knowledgeable leader. 
PLEASE SHARE, and provide examples of knowledgeable leaders…..

Are you an entrepreneur, a maverick, or cat bait?

I’m going to share my thoughts today about our little fish friend, however I first wanted to tell you what Bruce Carter said about my question.  Bruce is a connection of mine on LinkedIn.  I’ve never met Bruce personally, but his question at the end of his answer was awesome!

Bruce Carter:
  A fish will try to jump out of the water because of low oxygen levels, poor water quality, an aquarium or bowl that is too small, or bullying tank mates. If a fish needs to breathe air at the surface, it rarely jumps out of the aquarium – it just swims to the surface and puts its mouth above the water. Some fish species will however try to escape if the oxygen level is so low that they think they are stuck in a puddle that is gradually drying out. Then some fish species are natural jumpers, e.g. because they are used to catching insects above the water in the wild or because they jump out of the water to impress a mate during courtship. What does this have to do with dentistry?

What does this have to do with dentistry…or anything for that matter?  Well…in my career I have often felt like I was in a fishbowl.  I could only see a short distance away from my current location.  I felt trapped at times, like I had no clear purpose.  At the same time, I found myself competing with others I worked with to “get that small morsel of food” that was dopped in the bowl now and again. 

I like my career choice, but I began hitting a glass ceiling many years ago.  Perhaps for our analogy, it wasn’t a ceiling as much as it was the water line of the fishbowl I was in.  I asked myself “is there more than this”?  And if so, I wondered, “what else is out there, and how do I find my way to it without getting hurt?”

I believe there are three possible reasons for the jumping behavior of our fish friend:

1.  He’s trying to jump out of the bowl because he’s not happy in his bowl.  “Anywhere is better than here” he may be thinking…

2.  He’s getting away from something he fears. Something he fears even more than the unknown.

3.  He likes to jump—it’s exciting to him, and he doesn’t care how risky it may be…

This very behavior may mirror some of the behaviors we exhibit, or have seen others exhibit in our own fishbowl environment.  

Does this fish represent an individual that:

  • Tries new things? 
  • Thinks out of the bowl? 
  • Has an entrepreneurial spirit? 

Perhaps this picture represents an individual that:

  • Is an outsider to the rest of the individuals in the bowl? 
  • Is alone because he/she doesn’t work well with others? 
  • Is not liked by others? 
  • Is anti-social?

Lastly, perhaps this illustration represents an individual that:

  • Takes foolish risks 
  • Doesn’t “think before he leaps”
  • Will soon be cat bait

How do you identify with the fish in this picture?  Does it represent your leadership style?   Are you an entrepreneur, a maverick, or are you cat bait?


And the winners are….

Wow!  What great responses to the question “Why is this fish jumping?”

The winners of the $5 Starbucks card are:

  1. “The Mad Critic”
  2. Rich
  3. Joy Turley
  4. Norma
  5. Victoria

Congratulations!  And thank you all for your comments and ideas.

Your answers have created a list of possible reasons this fish is jumping:

  • The fish is suicidal
  • Curiosity
  • Diving is fun
  • Has a desire to explore
  • Tired of its current environment
  • Jumping is fun
  • Boredom
  • Wants to shake loose from the norm
  • The bowl is too crowded

All of these are good guesses.  Guesses; that’s all they are.  We know nothing about what the fish is thinking.   We can make educated guesses based on what we know about common goldfish behaviors.  But we can’t know too much more than what we learn from observing.  

People in our fishbowls at work, home or school can be just as mysterious.  However, we can simply ask other humans why they do certain things.  Actually, I encourage you to ask humans around you “why”.  That’s the ONLY way we will begin to understand each other.

In the next several posts, I will illustrate some reasons that you do what you do.  Even more fun is that you’ll start to learn why your team members, co-workers or friends do what they do.  It’s all about communication styles and the way we take on opportunities to lead.

How do you define your personal leadership/communication style?  I’m definitely a NORTH.  I’ll tell you what that means in the coming days!

Why is this fish jumping?


Take a look at the picture above.  This is a snapshot, a moment in time that illustrates common Goldfish behavior.  Why is this fish jumping?  Why would this fish leave the safety of the water in which he/she needs to survive?  
Please respond with an answer to the above questions.  The first five followers to respond get a Starbucks gift card, compliments of ME!!!!

Are Leaders Made?

Over the last several days, I’ve presented quotes from some great leaders:
Margaret Thatcher:

“Being powerful is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t”
Carl Jung:

“The true leader is always led”
John Quincy Adams:

If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader”
Ralph Smedley:

“Leadership is the capacity to influence others to achieve worthwhile results”

Taking into consideration what these leaders have said, I conclude that there are 4 characteristics that, if we strive to achieve, will develop leadership qualities in ourselves. 

These four characteristics are:
Manifesting your power through example and action

Allowing yourself to be led by your team

Inspiring others to achieve more

Developing the capacity to influence others toward worthwhile results

The question has been posed by almost every generation, “Are leaders born, or are leaders made?”  In fact, Toastmasters International has recently rebranded itself with the tagline “Where Leaders Are Made”.  Perhaps leaders are “made”, 

However, based on the acronym above, I believe that leaders are MAID.

Please let me know what you think… 
Would this acronym be a helpful guide to you as you develop your leadership?

Thanks for the birthday laughs!

I posted a link to this blog on my LinkedIn page, and here was a response from KK.Tow:

Hello Jackie

Your fish bowel framework is good and useful.

Life is a moving targets.

Can fish bowel framwork help? Appreciate it very much if you could say a bit more.

Warmest regards

Dr. K K Tow

Then Scott Simmerman, PhD replies:

KK and the other readers –

I had a laugh, with the spelling, as I am sure a few others did. Since KK and I have been connected a while, I thought it okay to respond.

Fish Bowels bring up a different image than one initially intended, I think:

1a. The intestine. Often used in the plural.
1b. A part or division of the intestine: the large bowel.
2. bowels The interior of something: in the bowels of the ship.

I think of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but maybe that IS more typical of what happens in the workplaces of some organizations than we think…

I think what you meant to say was “fish bowl,” since that indicates that there is a clear fluid containing a fish or fishes. A fish bowl being a way to look around and see everything (no privacy and nothing hidden).

But the stats on the issues of employee engagement and the tendency of people to either quit (roughly 10% of the new unemployed simply chose to quit and walk away from work, from what I read) or stand ready to run (roughly 60% of currently employed are ready to take another job at the first opportunity). Does that mean that the workplace stinks? (think: fish bowels?)

Have fun out there!

Thanks for the fun and laughs on a day I’m feeling older!

Who’s Ralph Smedley?

Thanks to all of you for your comments regarding the quotes I’ve provided from leaders.  One more quote I’ll provide on the subject of defining leadership is by Ralph Smedley….
Who the heck is Ralph Smedley, you might ask?  He’s the founder of Toastmasters International, an organization I’ve been a part of since 2007.  His quote pretty much sums the whole idea and definition of leadership up for me…

“Leadership is the capacity to influence others to achieve worthwhile results”

Based on the education I received as I read “How to Care for Your Goldfish”* this definition seems to be the one constant that applies to ANY environment or situation that exists in your fishbowl.  Having the capacity to influence others in an ever changing environment is a prime example of leadership.
Please tell me what you think of what Ralph has to say…
Do you have any experience with Toastmasters International?  Their tagline is “Where Leaders are Made”…
*Please see my website http://NavigatingYourFishbowl.com  for the full story

Presidential leadership….

John Quincy Adams,
6th U.S. President said…

If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more, you are a leader”

In the healthcare practice, or the organization, or the business you work in, have you ever felt inspired by the leader to dream more, do more, or even become more?

Have you, as a leader, ever inspired your team members to become more?  (I said INSPIRED…not REQUIRED)
Please let me know what you think about what President Adams has said…