Archive for May, 2010

Leaders and leadership

I believe we all evolve as leaders.  Wait, that is not completely true. There are some truly bad leaders out there that remain bad and only get worse. But that is still evolution just not the way I think it should go.  Yuppers, lots of Anissa opinion going to be infused in this post so be ready.  I have been watching idly by lately and have had enough.  Between government, big business  (I really wish BP would read the below), and even locally within the state, I am tired of ineffective leaders.

First, I don’t believe leadership is a title.  Just because you have one doesn’t mean anything to me unless you believe your title has magic and you use that power to threaten, rule by fear, coerce, or otherwise, put down the rest of us little people you believe us to be.  Your leading by your title does not create respect or trust.  For those of you who do this, think about that for a second.  Does your team respect you? Trust you? Want to make you look good?  If you don’t outright say yes immediately and know it to be true, you aren’t a leader in my eyes.

Second, I think we are all leaders.  This may be in government, school, work, church, your neighborhood, your high school, your professional organization, etc.  At any time, we are all leaders and we are all followers. If you remember this, a leader can be more compassionate instead of power hungry.  A leader understands that they do not exist without followers.  That a true leader is a servant to others (hence servant leadership). Do those in your department, group or team believe in your vision (if you have one & you have shared it – big assumption on my part) and help you achieve it?  If you are leading the charge and there is no one, or few, behind you, you aren’t a leader in my eyes.

Third, leaders know their team.  They know each person, what they do, their strengths, their motivations, and where they want to go.  As a leader, can you say this? If you can’t, then you better sit down and take the time.  And this does not mean once a year during the performance review (which I find ridiculous – these conversations  should be ongoing and regularly occurring throughout the year).  Leading is about people not tasks, not sitting in committee meetings, not sitting in your own office all day long. As an extension, does your team actively stop by your office/desk to talk to you, not just about work but about random things? If no one, or few, do this, you aren’t a leader in my eyes.

Fourth, leaders don’t play favorites. If you make the effort to only get to know a few really well, only give these people the extra opportunities, only take them to lunch, only take the time to laugh with them and show your human side, you are especially not a leader in my eyes. We might as well be back in high school.

Fifth, leaders talk.  I don’t mean communicate, I mean talk.  What are your plans for the department, group or team? What are you trying to accomplish now? What is happening in the organization? This should be regularly and consistently shared. We should hear more from you, all the time. Believe me, a chief complaint is that communication sucks in any organization – so what are you waiting for?  And if you complain that there is too much water cooler talk, this is YOUR fault.  In the face of ambiguity or lack of communication from YOU, there is no information being shared.  People will band together, support each other and share the small tidbits they pick up and try to cobble together what is happening. You aren’t a leader in my eyes if you believe that it is your team’s fault for the acting this way. You need to look within.

Sixth, leaders create the climate.  If you think the climate in your department, group or team isn’t supportive, is negative, tense, and people are constantly calling sick because of stress, YOU created this and YOU must fix it. A leader knows and if you don’t, you aren’t a leader in my eyes.

Seventh, leaders are reflective learners. Do you take the time to think about who you are as a leader? Where you have been and where you want to go? I am not talking about titles or roles.  I am talking about your style. Do you know what it is?  Do you know its impact on others? Do you readily know areas you need to enhance or are your blind spots? Do you know the behaviors that grate on others (the do as I say, not as I do variety). Do you take the time to read about other leaders and think about those aspects relative to yourself?  Or, do you think yourself impervious, superior, perfect, and in need of no leadership style change in any way?  The chief leadership trait that is more important than any other is vulnerability, in my opinion. I look for this in leaders and believe this is THE trait that epitomizes leaders. If you can be vulnerable, admit your mistakes, show that you need the expertise of others, that you don’t know everything, then your courage, your integrity, and your humanity shine through.  Are you vulnerable in any way? If you aren’t, then you aren’t a leader in my eyes.

Eight, leaders aren’t paranoid. If you are, then you need to look inside and figure out why.  Hire a coach, go to a therapist, seek out a mentor. But the problem is yours, not your department, group or team. And if you believe it is, then you need to get everyone together and LISTEN.  Ask the question about how they feel things are going and how you are doing as a leader, and then sit back and listen. The only thing you do is take notes and if you must talk, say thank you for the feedback.  Then follow back with everyone on the areas you are going to work on and ask them to be your monitor so they can congratulate you when you make strides (no matter how small). All of this takes vulnerability. Do you have it?  If you aren’t willing to do something about your paranoia, then you aren’t a leader in my eyes.

Ninth, leaders know how to have healthy conflict.  If you have surrounded yourself by people who kiss your ass & do whatever you want, and are basically mini versions of you, then you aren’t a leader in my eyes.  Leaders know that this isn’t leadership at all. This is just hero-worship and those persons kissing your ass hope you will help them with their own careers, giving them extra perks along the way.  Bobble-heads do you no good.  If everyone has given up and stopped sparring about issues, just letting you make decisions unilaterally, you aren’t a leader, you are a dictator.  Healthy conflict is a good thing. You, the team and the organization gain so much more from this. But if you fear conflict, again, you need to look at some of the advice in Eight above.

Tenth, if you have felt that any of this has been written about you dear reader, then you need to look within now at those areas above that pissed you off..  Those are the areas that you know, deep down under all those protective layers, are the real leadership issues that you need to tackle. So go tackle them. And don’t think about this once, today. Think about this often and regularly and start DOING something to change. It is the only true way you can be a leader now and forever.

May 30, 2010 at 10:00 am 2 comments

Still healing …

The healing process is still happening. I fell asleep last night around 7pm and didn’t wake up until this morning and that was only because of a phone call at 8am.  Ack, who calls that early!! I am trying to still listen to my body when I have pushed it to far but honestly, haven’t done a very good job with this as I should or I guess I wouldn’t have slept for 13 hours!

The area on my arm is extremely irritated and itchy, sometimes painful. I do my best to ignore it. My doctor said the anemia is getting better and we are watching and seeing on most aspects of the cancer. I do not like this one bit but they are the experts right?

May 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

Times like these …

I recently posted a status update on Facebook about my nesting. I have been doing a lot of this lately. I wasn’t really sure why until I was talking to a friend and I realized that maybe it as a sign of my rebirth after having gotten through the worst of my cancer journey. As I was driving to the doctor’s this morning and I heard a Foo Fighters song on The River.  It hit me and I started singing. I haven’t sung a song in my car in a long time.  I haven’t any idea why but I did today. All I know is the lyrics seemed to reflect my thoughts.

I am a one way motorway
I’m the one that drives away
Then follows you back home
I am a street light shining
I’m a wild light blinding bright
Burning off alone

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again

I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind?

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again

lyrics by Foo Fighters

May 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Back to our regularly scheduled broadcast

I have attempted (not very successfully) to not focus solely on my journey with cancer since my diagnosis in December.  At times, this was very difficult. Other times, I tried to think beyond my limited view of chemo, radiation and side effects. I will be moving more and more in the direction of free thinking and writing. For those of you who are no longer interested in reading about my general thoughts, opinions, and quirky perspective, feel free to start ignoring my blog!

May 24, 2010 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

Next steps

Last Friday marked my last day of radiation.  I go back in four weeks to see how things are going and as far as the future goes, am on a watch and see protocol for the area they radiated.  My radiation oncologist assures me I should not worry. So I won’t 🙂

I will see my regular oncologist Tuesday to check blood and overall health. Based on this, we will see what next needs to happen or also adopt a watch and see.  There are some areas that were sudden in developing but the chemo reduced affects and now, things have been contained and unchanged for about 2 months now.  So unless something changes, the watch and see is not a bad thing. I of course do not want to see if things get worse and just want everything gone but it doesn’t really work that way from what I gather.

So, keep your fingers crossed and keep me in your thoughts! Thanks, Anissa

May 17, 2010 at 5:10 am 2 comments

Turn of events

I always find it interesting how things happen and try to figure out why. This often fruitless but I give it a try to give myself a bit of calm. I have, in the past, gotten some news and completely panicked, worried, gotten anxious, fearful, or scared to death.

The IRS has decided to audit my teeny tiny little business. This is really not denigrating my company – it really is teeny tiny little.  I have not made enough money since I started in 2007 to sustain myself. I have however taken classes to get certified, done some advertising, given talks, attended shows, and other things to try to move things forward in a more substantial way.  It hasn’t worked in any significant way though (darn it).  ICF and Choice Magazine have shared that most coaches make an average of $30,000/year, if that much.  It is not a highly profitable business for the majority of coaches and I am no exception.

Back to the IRS.  I received the letter yesterday and my first thought was “holy crap, I know they are calling it an examination, but I am being audited”.  I immediately thought to myself how scary it would be to meet some guy in a white collared shirt, dark pants who hates his job and wants to make sure I know it. And then I will have to pay a fine to the IRS with money I don’t really have.  I know, this completely ridiculous. The IRS guy (and yes, it is a guy) may very well love his job. I may not even have to pay a fine.  I went about my business for a bit then about an hour later, read all the paperwork again with a calmer mind.  And it occurred to me that if I did something wrong, I would learn what it was and make amends.  Hopefully I did everything right and they just want to clarify things. Either way, I feel like trying to understand this was a help to me. Even though realistically, the IRS mystifies me and the government in general.  Why are they coming after me?  If I told you what I made from coaching last year, you would laugh.  But hey mr. government, don’t look into big business but in fact, give them a bailout which allows them to give huge bonuses to their employees.   Sheesh, bonus, what is that? I haven’t seen one of those in years. Maybe this year. But the bonus won’t be coming from my company.  I have always had to maintain a fulltime job while running my company, which now I wonder, is there even a point anymore to having it?

May 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm 3 comments

Universal Truths?

This was shared with me and had to pass on the laughter!

1.    Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

2.    I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

3.    There is great need for a sarcasm font.

4.    How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

5.    Was learning cursive really necessary?

6.    Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my own neighborhood.

7.    Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

8.    I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

9.    Bad decisions make good stories.

10.   You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

11.   Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don’t want to have to restart my collection…again.

12.   I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

13.   “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this ever.

14.   I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring, but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

15.   I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

16.   I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

17.   I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

18.   I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

19.   I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.  (And GPS’s need this option, too!)

20.   Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

21.   I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

22.   The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.

23.   I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

24.   How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

25.   I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent an idiot from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

26.   Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

27.   Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber and dumber every year?

28.   There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

29.   As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

30.   Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

31.   Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey–but I’d bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every  time!

May 12, 2010 at 11:46 am 1 comment

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