Monday, April 20, 2015

Tired of Talking: Leadership Means Action

I have been talking about Human Resources Management and Leadership for as long as I have had a career.  It all began in the late 1990s, when I was a Junior Business Consultant full of 'piss and vinegar'.

Back then, I wanted to change my workplace.  I had a great leader who believed in me and encouraged my enthusiasm.  We spoke about what Human Resources was really about (I called it Human Relations) and he gave me opportunities to be involved with organizations that were in the midst of change and better leadership (I worked with a business consulting organization).  He allowed me to design and implement new HR programs in our workplace.  I thought I knew a lot - I didn't really:)  I learned a lot.  But the one thing that has not changed since is my idea about what environment is required for successful business.

From there, I pursued a variety of HR and leadership activities and roles.  I advocated for more people centered HR programming.  I know... sounds crazy that we'd need more people centred activities for an activity that is all. about. people.  But, as you know, HR in a traditional sense is about processes and policies.  In the early 2000s, we were talking about the looming labour shortage.  By 2010, the shortage was here and growing.  Across Canada and the U.S. all the talk was about how low employee engagement was and how difficult it was to attract and retain talent.

Has it changed?  Not really.  It is still all the talk.

I was on a mission to expand the mindset of business and HR leaders and prove that caring and authenticity... transparency and compassion... were where it was at for leadership.  I led a successful program that brought all of these ideas into helping businesses transform their businesses by changing the face of HR Management.  When I left that role, I continued to talk and advocate for business success coming from authentic leadership.

Over the years, I have met others doing the same.  And in recent years, a lot of people are talking about this stuff.  Which is excellent.  I love it.

But here's the catch.  Leadership hasn't really changed.  I have worked with some great entrepreneurs who have the mindset and take the actions necessary to lead this way.  But, I have also worked with or spoken with organizations that do not walk the talk.  They want it.  They say they want it.  But they are stuck.  Or afraid.  Or unsure.

Because of this, and probably my own sense of unsureness and fear, I have cautiously talked about the absolute need for leaders to show their human side and be completely authentic if they want to see true success... if they want to have engaged employees... if they want creativity and cohesion in their workplaces.  I have been tentative about sharing what I know to be true.

Mindful leadership is about being confident.  Knowing when you are wrong... and being open to change... but being confident about what you know to be true.

I got tired of talking and have seriously practiced my own mindful leadership skills.  I'm tired of leaders talking.  If you want an engaged, creative, solution oriented, productive, effective workforce... you. must. be. that. kind. of. leader.  And to be that kind of leader... you must be self aware first.


Until our leaders 'get' that, we will continue to have engagement, retention, and attraction problems. The 2014 Gallup Workplace Survey states that "There are low levels of highly engaged workers, and close to a quarter of employees are disengaged.  More than ever, it is essential for companies to understand the factors that drive sustainable engagement."  Previous surveys reported similar 'revelations'.

When will our leaders get tired of talking and begin walking?

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