STAYING OUT IN FRONT: How to Build COMMUNITY Wherever You Land

IStock_000006431538XSmall[1]smallest In today’s marketplace and workplace, regardless of where you may be playing, we’re all learning similar lessons. We need to be flexible, adaptable, willing, able, and agile to ensure a place out in front in an turbulent, ever-changing world. We’re also learning that an essential skill goes with those qualities: Becoming a master of building COMMUNITY wherever you land — being remarkable at moving in and out and through communities in ways that are authentic, making meaningful connections with people and organizations that may be totally different than you are.

Recently, I’ve read a number of articles on “building community” and they all seem to make things seem quite complicated — like it’s hard to do.

In contrast…once in a while, someone comes along — sometimes it is someone we don’t expect to learn from — who shows us, by their examplein just a minute or two, the basics of all we need to know.

This little guy in “penguin suit” did just that…

4 TIPS from an UNEXPECTED TEACHER  WATCH!

  • Move with speed and agility to stay out front.
  • When you land in a new place, act like you belong. 
  • Be friendly to everyone you meet.
  • Feel the love come back at you.

What would you add?

Debbe

Dk5Debbe Kennedy
Contributing author
Greater IBM Connection Blog

Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
BOOK: author,
Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
Twitter:@debbekennedy   @onlinedialogues
Why to SMART people say NO to great ideas?
INNOVATION TIP #5

LEADERSHIP: Impossible until it is done

 

NelsonMandela-DebbeKennedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen INVICTUS? I went to see it a second time last week and felt compelled to write about my experience of it, primarily because too few have seen it. Unfortunately, it seemed to be overshadowed by the captivating AVATAR and other holiday escapes.

The film is an uplifting true story about Nelson Mandela’s remarkable leadership. You get a front row seat to witness a leader as he invites a nation to EXPERIENCE the “end he has in mind” he holds for their rise to greatness. Morgan Freeman received a well-deserved nomination for a Golden Globe and also an Oscar for his portrayal of South African President Nelson Mandela — a role, reportedly, Mandela himself chose for Mr. Freeman. It is moving and memorable.

It seems during a time when so much is messed up in both business and society, INVICTUS should be required watching for all leaders and aspiring leaders and anyone interested in creating a better world and society than we know today. Although, the movie chronicles a sports event, it is about something far bigger and richer — it is about people struggling and questioning one another. Kicking and screaming at first, but coming around again. Coming together. Doing their part. Lifting themselves up and everyone and everything around them. Experiencing the miracle that comes when we UNITE in a kind of oneness that suits our humanity well. As I watched, I flashed on times in my life and work, when I felt this same rush. A few of those were flashbacks from my career at IBM when a team of us reached inside ourselves to do something far greater than we thought was possible.

Before watching the film, I wished I had known both the words of the poem by heart and the story behind it. 

INVICTUS
by William Ernest Henley, 1875 

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This is the movie trailer that, frankly, doesn’t do the film justice, but it will give you a glimpse out of context…

 

LEADERSHIP LESSONS TO SHARE
I wrote down three lessons that were validated in this timely film…

1. SEE DIFFERENCES DIFFERENTLY. Master seeing DIFFERENCES differently so you can see through the eyes of those who are essential to CHANGE — especially, if they are your “enemies.” Understanding what matters to them and genuinely caring about it is important. It sets you free to authentically do your important work.

2. INVEST IN KNOWING YOUR PEOPLE. If you want people to follow you, teaching them to believe in themselves first makes it easier. To do this, invest in knowing and caring about who they are. Then demonstrate mutual trust and respect with every day-to-day opportunity afforded to you.

3. THE POWER OF “THE EXPERIENCE.” Helping people experience “the end in mind” — even for a short while — makes it easier to take the leader’s vision to the next level, step-by-step. It shows people they are in charge of their destiny.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
— Nelson Mandela

I hope you see it and stop by to share what you saw in INVICTUS from your vantage point.

Photo Credit:
One of seven paintings of special leadership influences that hang above my desk. They look over me as I work, always encouraging me to keep moving ever onward. Original oil painting by Sally K. Green.

Best…
Debbe

A-debbe-dec-2009-sm Debbe Kennedy
Contributing author
Greater IBM Connection Blog
Co-Founder, GIBM Women’s
International Network for
Leadership
 (GIBM WIN-L)

Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
BOOK: author,
Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
Twitter:@debbekennedy   @onlinedialogues

YOUR GREAT IDEAS: How are they doing?

Istock-womanthumbsdown2 If we traced the path of GREAT IDEAS in the finest of organizations, we would probably all be astounded at the rate at which NEW THINKING is unintentionally squelched, squashed, smashed, stifled, smothered, misunderstood, ridiculed or just ignored.

Ever had this experience?
Ever felt like this woman looks?

 

This is what I wrote in an article a few years back. Around the same time, I was invited to speak at an ONLINE leadership forum with a focus on How to Get Buy-In for New Ideas. Over 550 leaders and innovators showed up to explore this topic, representing twenty countries. They came from major companies from every industry, as well as entrepreneurs, government, military, education, health care, and community organizations. I discovered the group was a cross section of CEOs and senior leaders, managers of every type, as well as educators, business owners, ministers, and consultants. Imagine all this diverse talent coming together, peer to peer, meeting on common ground, because they were brimming with NEW IDEAS to bring to their respective organizations. Following the online session, I conducted some follow-on dialogues. Three key themes were identified as BIG BARRIERS standing the the way of introducing the participants’ NEW IDEAS:

  • Culture isn’t open to new ideas.Resistance to change. There is a lack of interest in change and innovation. Everyone sees the need; no one wants to take the risk. New approaches aren’t welcomed.
  • Gender, race, and age still play a role in acceptance of new ideas in our organization. If you think differently or ask too many questions, it leads to losing the respect of senior leaders.
  • Senior leaders/managers take ideas and present them as their own. The focus from our leaders is on execution of strategy; they’ve forgotten people are leading it for them. It would be great if they showed more interest in what people have to say.

This begs a question…
What are the chances that you or other leaders in your organization might be leaving similar impressions about sharing NEW IDEAS? No one would purposely want to have members of their teams or constituents thinking this way. But perception is everything and this kind of breakdown in communication isn’t uncommon. It erodes trust and impacts all organizations ability to put differences to work to generate new thinking, creativity, and INNOVATION. At this time in our history, we can’t afford it. Too much is at stake.

 

A CONTINUING SAGA
What is alarming is that this reality doesn’t seem to change — at least in the perception of many of those with the GREAT IDEAS. I remember these same barriers coming up now and then throughout my career too. Last week, I partnered up with futurist and filmmaker Joel Barker to teach a professional development class on this topic. It focused on examining resistance to change, providing detailed guidelines, examples, and a step-by-step process that demonstrates how to get ideas accepted. Interestingly, we again discovered a similar result in a poll we took. A new issue did surface — 23% identified “information overload  breaking through the noise as a major barrier. However, a whopping 84% brought up issues similar to those noted above as standing in their way of introducing and seeding NEW IDEAS in their organizations.

 

Even before my time at IBM circa 1969, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., wrote in one of his well-known Management Briefings: “There’s an old saying that when you talk — you teach, when you listen — you learn. There are a lot of ideas worth listening to in this company. Let’s be sure we’re paying attention — we are never so rich in ideas that we can afford not to…”  It should be noted that this quote was preceded by him sharing a personal leadership story where he hadn’t listened to an employee’s idea to solve a critical business problem. “…Because I was frustrated and tired, I gave [the employee] a short interview and a non-sympathetic rebuff. …Later that evening, I began to worry about the area which he had pointed out, and by morning, I realized that at least constructive and appropriate attention to his idea was the minimum he should expect from me.” Hmmm…Big leadership at work!

 

What about YOU?

What is the #1 ISSUE you face when it comes to introducing NEW IDEAS?(answers)

For those of you who never have this kind of experience…
What best practice can you share to help others who do?

 

I look forward to listening your points of view…

 

 

 

Best…
Debbe

 

A-DK-SEPT17-1Debbe Kennedy
Contributing author
Greater IBM Connection Blog
Co-Founder, GIBM Women’s
International Network for
Leadership
 (GIBM WIN-L)

Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
author,
Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
Twitter:@debbekennedy   @onlinedialogues

TRUST: A Personal IBM Story

Dkennedy-TRUST

trŭst  n.
1. Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.
2. Something committed into the care of another; charge.
___________________________________________

Trust is perhaps the single most empowering — and sometimes the most paralyzing quality in our relationships with ourselves and with each other in life and work. Issues of trust are at the core of our most pressing problems on almost any front and today there are plenty of them.

I’m not sure I fully appreciated how much I learned about trust in my 20+ years at IBM. It is hard for me to think about the notion of trust without remembering its various influences during those years.

One illustrative story immediately comes to mind. It was an unexpected acknowledgment that was revealed in one of the IBM stories I included in my book, Putting Our Differences to Work. The interview was with one of my former managers at IBM. He was a kind of wild and crazy guy with a bowtie. He was intense, spirited, and knew the business down to the tiniest detail. He was also fun, suspect of your every move and intention, and operated with a contentious style with everyone. Working with him, taught me how to play hardball. After leaving IBM, he became a successful entrepreneur, working with very different people. Most spoke a different language which he didn’t understand. So he had to learn to trust. In his own words… 

“As an IBM manager,” Chuck told me, “there was never an assumed trust on my part. As an employee, you had to earn it from me—and because I was the manager, I expected people to come to me. In my entire IBM career, I was incapable of just letting people go—creating a common understanding of our mission and then allowing people to do their best. I always had to be in control—or wanted more control—or thought my ideas were better. In my business today, I have had to trust people, because I can’t talk about what I want or always be with them with several jobs going at one time. Maybe the change has come from a combination of things. I’ve mellowed. I’ve learned people work best if given some freedom. Also, my employees have been great teachers. They taught me to trust.”

 

“He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.”
— Lao Tzu

What I know for sure is that in my life TRUST in relationships has empowered me to do things I imagined were possible.  It improves business, increases the possibilities for innovation, and feels real good inside. How about you?

Do you have a story to share?

Best…
Debbe

A-DK-SEPT17-1 Debbe Kennedy
Contributing author
Greater IBM Connection Blog
Co-Founder, GIBM Women’s
International Network for
Leadership
 (GIBM WIN-L)

Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
author,
Putting Our Differences to Work
Video Book Review by futurist Joel A. Barker
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
Twitter: @debbekennedy   @onlinedialogues

What New Skills Do We Need to be The Game Changers?

8-1-2009 3-25-36 PM-GIBMers4 Inspired by the possibilities Sam Palmisano introduced to the world in his speech, SMARTER PLANET: The Next Leadership Agenda, Greater IBMers across the world have been meeting up ONLINE to learn, exchange ideas, and discover how we can get involved. We’ve learned we share a keen interest in becoming one of those leaders and innovators that Sam Palmisano described as those that will “change the game” in creating a more sustainable planet on many fronts. Most recently, we’ve delved into leadership and diversity in our changing economy, the crisis of health care, and on August 5, we’ll be exploring new intiatives related to WATER, the lifeblood of our planet.

8-1-2009 4-59-51 PM--WATER

HAVE YOU REGISTERED TO ATTEND ?

The Business of WATER
A Thirst for Smarter Management

Conversation with executive guest…
Sharon Nunes, IBM Vice President, Big Green Innovations

ONLINE EVENT  |  WEDNESDAY, August 5, 2009
1 PM – 2 PM  US Eastern Daylight Time
REGISTER HERE:  www.greateribm.com
Login/phone details to attend are included.

WHAT DO WE HAVE TO OFFER THE WORLD?
What new skills do we need to be the game changers?
The graphic at the top of this post includes an amazing list of leadership qualities. These were collected from the over 490 Greater IBMers that registered for our event, LEADERSHIP and DIVERSITY in a CHANGING ECONOMY in June 2009. THE QUESTION: We asked each person to name one quality that distinguished them as a leader and innovator. When you look at the entire list of distinguishing qualities, you realize that GREATER IBMERS are a powerful resource prepared to change the world. As you read through the list, I’m certain you will also see yourself in those qualities.

So, who are these game changers?
How can YOU be among them?
What role does CURIOSITY play?

I keep learning through my work with people all over the world that it is essential for leaders and innovators to develop a much keener interest in people than we are used to having even at IBM — particularly in people that are different that we are. You’ve got to learn to look beyond the words on a resume, the preconceived limitations we see in others, how someone looks, and seek to discover the full array of DIFFERENCES, knowledge, know-how, values, and unique talents that others possess. This means questioning our habits and learning to SEE DIFFERENCES DIFFERENTLY. Related blog post you might enjoy: CURIOSITY: The 21st Century Differentiator

Hope you’ll join us! Learn more. Share your voice. Get inolved! Together, we can change the world in ways we can’t imagine. 

“…I believe we will see new leaders emerge who win not by surviving the storm, but by changing the game.”
Sam Palmisano, IBM Chairman and CEO

Best…
Debbe

6-24-2009 BLOG60 Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection Blog
Co-Founder, GIBM Women’s
International Network for
Leadership
(GIBM WIN-L)

Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
author,
Putting Our Differences to Work
Video Book Review by futurist Joel A. Barker
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
Twitter: @debbekennedy   @onlinedialogues

LEADERSHIP and DIVERSITY Gathering with IBM VP Ron Glover

RG-EVent

We continue to prove the value of the Greater IBM Connection each time we find a way to gather across the world. Last week, we did it again!

Over 490 IBMers past and present from 28 countries signed up to meet each other ONLINE at an appointed time and place to participate in a conversation with IBM Vice President of Diversity & Workforce Programs, Ron Glover. Our purpose in meeting was to explore the topic of LEADERSHIP and DIVERSITY in a CHANGING ECONOMY.

GETTING ACQUAINTED
We started the dialogue by first learning a little about who showed up. This seemed to create a sense we were connected in the distance. We had a chance to plot ourselves on a world map, shared why we were drawn to be there in a POLL, and got a glimpse of how we had described our unique roles in life and work. When each of us registered for the event, we also were asked to identify one DISTINGUISHING QUALITY we had as leaders or innovators. We shared the list with everyone. It had hundreds of unique expressions— a little peer-to-peer sharing across cultures and twenty-eight countries. Nice!

CONVERSATION WITH RON GLOVER
Ron Glover spent the first hour with us and generously offered his stories and insights. We had received hundreds of questions from participants at registration. Our Greater IBM WIN-L Co-Founders, Cécile Demailly (France), Shara Sokol (New York), and Jane Scandurra (New York), joined me to field the questions submitted. The questions covered four key themes: Ron’s LEADERSHIP JOURNEY, his thoughts on BEING A LEADER, the status of DIVERSITY at IBM in this changing economy, and Ron’s SEND-OFF for us. We hung out together for another thirty minutes or so to discuss questions, reflect on what we learned, and share stories and perspectives.

As a Greater IBMer, I admit I was honored to have the opportunity to welcome IBMers past and present to our Global Dialogue Center ONLINE Conference Center and experience the power of connecting in still another way. As someone reflected on the event: “This was a one of a kind opportunity to connect with IBMERS from so many parts of the world and with so many views.” 

RECORDED HIGHLIGHTS, HANDOUTS, RELATED LINKS:
We captured the highlights of this global Greater IBM gathering at the Global Dialogue Center.
We invite you to share in the experience too…
Go here for RECORDED HIGHTLIGHTS:
http://globaldialoguecenter.com/events/gibm-june2009.shtml

It meant a lot to me be involved in this event. It was a special gathering that emerged through the Greater IBM Women’s Network for Leadership (GIBM WIN-L) from other online experiences we created together. It was produced in partnership with the Greater IBM Connection team. Together — Ron Glover, everyone who shared in this gathering, and our global team — we created a moment in time that would not have been possible at one time…a memorable one!

From the reflective writings of those attending…

“It’s very nice to have the opportunity to share ideas among all levels. It’s not very common in other companies to have this kind of opportunity.”

“…it is nice to see so many locations working to make the world and IBM a better place.”

Best…
Debbe

6-24-2009 BLOG-gibm

Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection Blog
Co-Founder, GIBM Women’s
International Network for
Leadership
(GIBM WIN-L)

Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
author,
Putting Our Differences to Work
Video Book Review by futurist Joel A. Barker
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
www.globaldialoguecenter.com

The Power of Expressing GRATITUDE – Greater IBM Global Virtual Holiday Party

DebbeDAE-Holiday PartyI’ve thought so much about Greater IBM’s Global Holiday Party at Second Life. It  wasn’t just an ordinary party by any means and its rippling influence continues to live on in the hearts
and minds of those who experienced it. We’ve been talking about it…

The setting was nothing less than a winter wonderland that reflected the hundreds — perhaps even thousands of fingerprints; mind-boggling brilliance and innovation; mounds of thoughtfulness and care … and of course, IBM execution second-to-none. The party was also a testament for how far we’ve come as a Greater IBM community in being able to share such  experiences across cultures and the world.

We seemed friendlier. More of us, found a way to be there in avatar or on the phone.
We were bolder. It wasn’t so scary to say hello or volunteer to take a picture of a group.
We’re getting polished at VIRTUAL. We saw a whole new level of virtual spirit.
We were more connected. You could feel the JOY we felt to see so many friends honored.

Group-Shot2

Passing the Test of Time and Technology
All my thinking affirmed again a trait of IBM’s that is forever burned into my consciousness: We
are all well-taught about the power that comes from saying
THANKS! After I left IBM, I realized many  times that this is not an attribute of every company. Certainly, not today. It is something special.

Fast forward nearly two decades…and the Greater IBM’s Global Holiday Party at Second Life was another shining example in a totally different virtual dimension. The party was not only a celebration, but our Greater IBM  leadership and the whole Greater IBM team invested, significantly, in making this event A BIG THANK YOU to our growing community from the moment we arrived. Beyond all I’ve mentioned already, there was a  treasure hunt with gifts, holiday drinks, huge chocolate chip cookies, and a turkey with all the  trimmings.

Award ProgramWe all gathered for a “recognition and award” ceremony, complete with custom-made “Greater IBM medallions”  for each award recipient — with plenty of time for clapping, jumping up and down, and  dancing for JOY over the acknowledgment of the global winners in categories like…Greater IBM  Relaters, Greater IBM Community Builders, Greater IBM Evangelists, Spirit of Greater IBM Awards.

Each presentation was so thoughtful and specific to the person, helping us all remember so many  contributions that have made it possible for us to be together as a Greater IBM Community across time, difference, and distance. I admit it, I was so  deeply touched to be honored in such a personalized way as one of the “Spirit of Greater IBM” award recipients. I couldn’t  believe it. I won’t forget it — especially, imagining that technology was able to teleport me to a place where I got all choked up looking at desktop in San Francisco. :-)

Essential Ingredients of GRATITUDE
In the book, Thanks! by Robert Emmons, he points out two stages of gratitude that can easily be applied to the Great IBM Global Holiday Party at Second Life and all our contributions as we work to put our differences to work to help create a better world than we know today.

    1. acknowledging the goodness in what has been achieved, and
    2. recognizing the source of this goodness has come from the talents of many.

Emmons also helps us helps us understand what the essential components are to expressing gratitude in a meaningful way, using the French expression “je suis reconnaissant,” looking closely at the translation in three parts: “(1) ‘I recognize’ (intellectually), (2) ‘I acknowledge’ (willingly), and (3) ‘I appreciate’ (emotionally). Only when all three come together is gratitude complete.”

On December 18, 2008 at the Greater IBM at Second Life, all three essential components of GRATITUDE came together. It was complete!

Have you joined Greater IBM?

Debbe

DDx2 Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Cos.

author
, Putting Our Differences to Work 
www.globaldialoguecenter.com
www.puttingourdifferencestowork.com

IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
 

SMARTER: The Next Great Opportunity

DkistockeyesmI see it clearly. Vision. Courage. Always thinking an idea ahead. This was one of the first lessons I learned at IBM many years ago. It was taught to us, refined, honed, renewed, revitalized and called upon through periods of change, big and small — a second-nature for an IBMer. This is how I recall it. Do you?

As the current economic crisis began to unfold in October 2008, I wrote about this quality of "thinking an idea ahead" in a blog post, ECONOMY: The Next Great Opportunity-WHAT TO DO, telling the story of being introduced to the concept at "new employee orientation" at IBM. I told how this quality saved my business some years back and shared "what you can do" ideas. What I remember most about the story that has inspired me all these years was that thinking an idea ahead prepares you to be ready for that next great opportunity.

Last week, Sam Palmisano, IBM’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, took this deeply rooted quality of thinking an idea ahead to a whole new level for the twenty-first century, when he invited all of us and the entire world, into a new bold vision of "A SMARTER PLANET: The Next Leadership Agenda" in his address to the Council on Foreign Relations in NYC on November 6. "…a period of discontinuity is, for those with courage and vision, a period of opportunity."

He defined current realities for leaders: "Our political leaders aren’t the only ones who’ve been handed a mandate for change. Leaders of businesses and institutions everywhere confront a unique opportunity to transform the way the world works."

He painted a vivid picture of a SMARTER PLANET: One that instrumented, interconnected and intelligent with abundantly available, low cost technology solving our most pressing problems around the world. The inspiring examples prove that the time for change has truly come!

He called for new leadership qualities: "There is much serious work ahead of us, as leaders and as citizens," he told us. "Together, we have to consciously infuse intelligence into our decision-making and management systems…not just infuse our processes with more speed and capacity. I believe  we will see new leaders emerge who win not by surviving the storm, but by changing the game."

As I wrote in my book, Putting Our Differences to Work: The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance, the word leader has a Germanic origin meaning to "find a new path. There is a constant stream of achievements rising up from individuals and organizations across the world finding the new paths we need. Our part is recognizing that we have to fundamentally change the way each one of us think, behave, and operate as leaders and innovators to reap the benefits of the globally integrated, interconnected world. The next great opportunity is ours to own.

Are you ready?
I am. I want to be one of those leaders. I want to one who helps change the game, don’t you?

Ignite your passions, watch these SMARTER PLANET videos on YouTube:
http://uk.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D5BD36BC10A92B15

Proudly BLUE,

Debbe

Dkdesk1008Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies

author, Putting Our Differences to Work 
www.globaldialoguecenter.com
www.puttingourdifferencestowork.com

IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco
 

LEADERSHIP: Calming the Fears of Others

Nelsonmandeladetail_5Over my desk, I have seven paintings of leaders who have influenced me: Mother Teresa, Viktor Frankl, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Jalaluddin Rumi, and Eleanor Roosevelt. They watch over me as I work…and they serve as a constant reminder to check my behavior and actions, remembering what I’ve learned from each of them. (Nelson Mandela, Original oil by Bay Area Artist, Sally K. Green)

There is lots of talk about leaders these days and plenty to learn from those put in the spotlight — there is behavior to emulate and other actions to leave out of your leadership portfolio. What is very clear is that this is a time of great marketplace turbulence, workplace uncertainty, community adversity, and worry for many in almost any direction. For most of us, these realities bring some level of fear depending on how you are personally impacted or how close the rippling influence comes to your family.

What is the role of a leader during times of UNCERTAINTY and ECONOMIC WORRY?

In reading and studying the life of Nelson Mandela, he teaches us a great lesson about a leader’s response to fear. I recently read an article written to commemorate the passing of Mandela’s 90th Birthday, Mandela: His 8 Leadership Lessons by Richard Stengel (TIME, July 2008). His No. 1 lesson is one that talks about the important role of a leader in calming the fears of the people.

Richard Stengel writes:
In 1994, during the presidential-election campaign, Mandela got on a tiny propeller plane to fly down to the killing fields of Natal and give a speech to his Zulu supporters. I agreed to meet him at the airport, where we would continue our work after his speech. When the plane was 20 minutes from landing, one of its engines failed. Some on the plane began to panic. The only thing that calmed them was looking at Mandela, who quietly read his newspaper as if he were a commuter on his morning train to the office. The airport prepared for an emergency landing, and the pilot managed to land the plane safely. When Mandela and I got in the backseat of his bulletproof BMW that would take us to the rally, he turned to me and said, "Man, I was terrified up there!"

Mandela was often afraid during his time underground, during the Rivonia trial that led to his imprisonment, during his time on Robben Island. "Of course I was afraid!" he would tell me later. It would have been irrational, he suggested, not to be. "I can’t pretend that I’m brave and that I can beat the whole world." But as a leader, you cannot let people know. "You must put up a front." And that’s precisely what he learned to do: pretend and, through the act of appearing fearless, inspire others. …He knew that he was a model for others, and that gave him the strength to triumph over his own fear.

LESSONS LEARNED…
This story reminded me that a leader’s job is to be the shining example of what you want others to be. It also reminded me that great leader’s don’t create or promote fear in those looking to them for leadership. They make it easy to be brave, to persevere, to reach inside yourself to find the strength to engage at a whole new level when it is needed most.

I admit these principles were also instilled in me at IBM. When I think back on the "tough times" that came along, we were always a company that transcended the obstacles and made sure we were ready for the next opportunity.

What do you think people need most during the ECONOMIC uncertainty, worry, and recovery?
What leadership qualities calm your anxieties and inspire you?

Debbe

Dkdesk1008Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies

author, Putting Our Differences to Work 
www.globaldialoguecenter.com
www.puttingourdifferencestowork.com

IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco

Re-Thinking ABUNDANCE

Abundancesm

I guess this post started with this morning’s news. It seems that in whatever direction we look, there is so much need. Needs of every kind. Some caused by recent storms; some caused by neglect and indifference that has spanned decades; some by greed and self-interest; some far away; much right in our view…a neighbor, a friend, an unsuspected colleague. Need comes in a variety of diverse packages that don’t always look "needy" to a casual observer.

We’ve all witnessed that an "abundant life" can be devastated in what seems a moment’s notice with a lost job, an illness, a broken family, a financial crisis, a response from mother nature, a foolish judgment, or even an inner strength lost and not yet found.

It may seem funny for me to write about such a topic here at the Greater IBM Connection, but I know we aren’t exempt from these admissions or such troubles. As I look back at my own triumphs and tragedies, I am grateful for each one and the abundance on many levels that came from them.

The needs today in so many fronts are almost too much to comprehend, but I know the solutions reside within the lives, intellect, and hearts of each of us. It isn’t easy to change our ways; to think more about others; to expand our sense of connection and community. We certainly are on to something here at the Greater IBM Connection as we reach across our cultures and differences. This model has perhaps raised my consciousness about what is possible. I read once, "The biggest engineering feat is that of human will." Opportunity seems to be sitting in front of us, yes?

A while back, I had the chance to capture the wisdom for our Moments of Insight Collection at the Global Dialogue Center from the ground-breaking work of Lynne Twist, author and founder of the Soul of Money Institute. As I read the this morning’s news, I thought of her lessons. In her six mini-podcasts, Money, Sustainability, Abundance, and YOU, she offers insight, moving stories, a refreshing perspective, and ideas to help you re-think the notion of abundance and much more.

I invite you to listen in… Click here

What’s your view on need and abundance?
What lessons have you learned?

Debbe

Dk_at_desk_3Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
www.globaldialoguecenter.com

author, Putting Our Differences to Work
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco