Vision That Propels

Liz Selzer - Thursday, February 12, 2015


“There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future, widely shared.” Burt Nanus, Visionary Leadership


Vision. What exactly is it and why is it so necessary for producing growth and change? 


Vision, according to Webster’s dictionary, is the act or power of imagination, mode of seeing or conceiving, unusual discernment or foresight. Vision is the ability to see a desired future and how to get there. It energizes the passion and power for why we do what we do. However, when we begin to assume that everyone knows why we do what we do, we have taken the first step toward complacency and de-motivation. I am sure if asked, most of us could tell someone the mission of our organization and why it is important. If asked … but often we forget to ask. We often forget to remind ourselves of the very real reasons we do what we do.


Vision Leaks
Both Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley have said, “Vision leaks.” This means a compelling vision may start out strong, but if it is not frequently filled back up with stories of lives and circumstances changing, of heroism and self sacrifice of those participating, of a passion that will not be quenched … eventually it will all drain out leaving nothing left. The vision will be but a distant memory of why the organization started in the first place. It takes intentionality, but if we can make sure we stop frequently to celebrate the positive stories, it will fill up our vision.


Vision is a Journey
Because the development and filling out of a vision is a journey, it is yet another reason we need to be reminded of it frequently. When we go through the growing pains of our organization, these challenges can feel daunting if we lose sight of the vision for why we are doing what we are doing in the everyday tasks. Revisiting our vision frequently reminds us that even the smallest of tasks are part of a bigger purpose and plan.


Vision Requires Personal Ownership
Personal ownership of the vision is critical. It is important to develop ownership in taking on and sticking with difficult tasks. The vision needs to be personal to each person involved in its accomplishment, personal in that they feel in their own heart the importance of the vision, as well as see where they can personally be involved in the accomplishment of the vision. If we own the vision personally, we see the importance of our participation, and our participation will continue.


Vision Must Be Clear 

A clear, directive and demanding vision energizes people. Articulating a vision in a way that others can see themselves as an important contributor is one of the most important things a leader can do. In your organization, tying vision to all you do creates an experience and environment for your leaders to thrive in. It will tap into their passion and fuel their actions.

You bet, this is who we really are!

Amanda Dreher - Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ever wondered who your corporation really is? If you haven’t, you should. Infact, you should ask this on a regular basis. Your corporate culture is an ever changing and evolving, living and breathing animal. It is not some simple, static decree that you make once and it sticks. It is a whole system of inter-related moving parts that are reliant on each other.

Your corporate culture was not created in an isolated vacuum. Rather, the actions, the stories, even the goals of the past, present and future merge to shape the company you are now. These serve to shape the behaviors and beliefs of your people, your teams, your leaders, and your public. The corporate narrative, the values, the decisions, the rewards, the consequences all speak volumes about the company, both internally and externally.

Whether you choose to intentionally to build your corporate culture, or if it has just formed over time more organically, it will be there affecting your organization’s success. The big question then becomes, is your culture really reinforcing the values you state are your priorities?

If so, great job! Keep on doing what you are doing. If not, it is time to look at making changes that will better align the two. This can be a scary prospect. Questions of time, investment, invasiveness all come up. But, believe it or not, the quickest way to begin changing your corporate culture is simple, cheap and relatively quick.

The quickest way to begin changing your culture and reinforcing your values to create a new norm, is to begin with yourself and your leaders. Begin to take actions that demonstrate the new culture you are moving towards. You be the example.

For instance:

  • If you want collaboration to be a priority, begin to ask others to input into your projects.
  • If you want families to be a priority, begin by throwing a family friendly event.
  • If you want learning, build in time each week for your employees and yourself to research new developments in their field.
  • If you want more interaction and trust, begin simply by leaving your door open.
  • If you want a 24 hour response time, then you begin living by that standard.
  • If you want work/life balance, begin by turning your own computer off and unplugging in the evenings.

The example you set will catch on. People will begin to notice a difference. They may question, they may not trust it at first, but hang in there. Soon people will begin to like, to expect, and even to take on these new behaviors.

As a leader your team is watching you and constantly weighing where they stand and how they need to behave in order to succeed at your organization. You are leading by example whether you recognize it or not. Choose to recognize it and embrace it. Use your influence to demonstrate the corporate culture you desire for your organization and your team will follow.

By turning the expected behavioral norms upside down you will have people skeptically but hopefully asking, “Now wait a minute, is this who we really are?” And soon that question will shift into an enthusiastically emphatic answer of, “You bet this is who we really are.”

An Integrated Life

Amanda Dreher - Thursday, October 16, 2014

“I pay a steep price when I live a divided life – feeling fraudulent, anxious about being found out, and depressed by the fact that I am denying my own selfhood. The people around me pay a price as well, for now they walk on ground made unstable by my dividedness. How can I affirm another’s identity when I deny my own? How can I trust another’s integrity when I deny my own? A fault line runs down the middle of my life, and whenever it cracks open – divorcing my words and actions from the truth I hold within – things around me get shaky and start to fall apart.” – Parker Palmer

Do you struggle with leading a “divided life” as I do? In the business of life we are constantly pulled in numerous directions feeling forced to wear different hats in each different situation, unable to bring all of who we are to each. We are left feeling disingenuous, exhausted and frustrated.

Often, the answer to this common challenge is to try to achieve “balance.” We are encouraged to find some sort of equilibrium amongst the various compartments in our lives, to keep each in check. Although “balance” can help us avoid becoming overwhelmed by any one thing, it cannot incorporate the various sections of our lives. If anything, “balance” can at times perpetuate the silos that cause us to feel pulled and stretched.

What if there was a different approach? What if instead of balancing the individual pieces of our lives we were able to put the puzzle together in such a way as to see the whole picture? That is exactly the concept of an integrated life. Rather than focus on each individual piece, an integrated life would change the frame of reference to integrate each piece for a healthier whole. Beginning to look at all the pieces of your life as extensions from the one whole and complete you, rather than as separate and individual pieces tied together only because they each involve you, allows you to bring together all of the components in a more harmonious life.

According to Miriam Webster, to integrate is to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole, to incorporate into a larger unit.

What areas of your life are segregated into silos?

How might you begin to integrate them into one unified whole?

A Successful Sales Team

Amanda Dreher - Thursday, October 16, 2014


The world of business has changed immensely over the past few decades. Numerous variables, including the economy and technology, have completely transformed the internal and external mechanisms of organizations. In fact, this rapid pace of change is only going to continue changing the face of companies for the foreseeable future.

As Thomas Frey puts it, “60% of the jobs that will be available 10 years from now have not yet been invented.” Companies are changing rapidly and so are their products and their customers. As advancements are made, products evolve and develop in new directions. Likewise, the customer base has developed into an audience with instant access to information, reviews and discussions about the product. A successful sales team must be equipped to adapt to the challenges of representing a continually changing company and product to an information driven customer base, but how?


In this world of often over-informed consumers, salespeople need to be very knowledgeable about the product or service they are selling. A customer can easily go online to dig up any information they seek, so why should they listen to your salespeople? The answer should be because they are highly informed not only about your product, but also about the market in general. They also should be informed about both the positive and negative aspects so that they are prepared to address any concerns presented by the consumer. This is when hard facts and data are still critical.


Whether you pull from within your organization or if you hire a capable consultant, training your sales team on the most effective sales techniques is key to bridging that gap between informed team and sales team. Learning the data and becoming familiar with the product is the first step, but the second step is learning what to do with that information. How do you make contacts, develop leads, interact with customers, inform consumers, close a deal? Training on the day-to-day ins and outs of sales puts legs on the data.


Mentoring is an opportunity to tap into the potential of the sales team you have in place. By creating a culture where information and ideas are exchanged, where people feel valued, the team as a whole becomes more innovative, invested, driven, engaged and committed. This is where the intangible items that make a team truly successful are exchanged. Mentoring can super charge your sales team.


Discover what types of rewards or incentives are motivational in your organization. This can look different for each organization, but some examples are: recognition, awards, financial bonuses, office improvements, a day off, a training day, merchandise, a trip, a dinner, workplace flexibility, etc. The ideas are endless, but the concept is the same – be sure to celebrate the accomplishments of your people as individuals and as teams.


Go to the source when continuing to develop your sales team. Involve the current team in gathering information and contributing ideas. They are on the front line of you sales strategy, you have just invested in informing, training, mentoring and rewarding them, take the time to learn form them as well. Find out what techniques are working and what aren’t. Learn about the wants and needs of the consumer base. Ask about the ins and outs of the product or service you are selling. Not only will you collect incredible data to help in all levels of organizational development, but you will also reinforce the value of your sales team.

Developing Growth Plans and Strategic Goal Setting

Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Strategic goal setting and well thought-out growth plans are critical to a formal mentoring program. They allow the program to be evaluated on concrete terms related to growth and progress. If goals are not set, it is difficult to ascertain whether the program was beneficial for the individuals and the organization beyond the positive evaluation of a relationship that went well. Don’t worry, growth plans and goal setting aren’t as difficult or intimidating as they sound. Here are a few easy tips:


  • Just do it: Don’t just read or talk about what you want to do – put compelling goals and plans in place so that action can take place.
  • Tailor it to the specific mentee: Use learning techniques and methods that best suit your mentees’ learning styles, skills, talents, strengths and organizational roles.
  • Build in accountability: Mentors should do their best to avoid judgment, control and ownership of the mentee’s issues. What mentors can provide is the accountability of being there regularly to discuss both progress and challenges. Mentors cannot do for mentees what mentees must do for themselves. Help mentees recover from commitment failures and move forward through encouragement by reminding them that you believe in them. What makes people successful is self-discipline over time, supported by accountability.
  • Focus on strengths: Buckingham and Clifton highlight the importance of working in your area of strength more than in your weaknesses, pointing out that people grow most in their areas of strength. So, when possible, mentors can help mentees work in their areas of strength and surround themselves with people who are strong in their areas of weakness.

Mentoring: Why Bother?

Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Please enjoy this article from Dr. Liz Selzer as published on January 2, 2013 in CORE, the online magazine published by the Network of International Christian Schools, also known as NICS.

Mentoring can both enhance the vision of an organization and support individual calling. It can also result in staff members feeling valued and act as a catalyst for significant personal growth. Mentoring new people in an organization can help with transition and effectiveness. It is not only beneficial to mentees but also to mentors and organizations as a whole. In a successful mentoring program, everyone involved buys in whole-heartedly. To do this, all parties understand and believe in the benefits of participating.

The Benefits of Mentoring
In an organization like NICS, much of the mentoring will have a reciprocal nature to it. Individuals will both mentor someone and be mentored by someone. We can all learn something from anyone, and with some basic training on mentoring skills, everyone can be effective in either role:

  • Mentors focus on the following tasks with their mentees: reinforcing accomplishments, expanding sphere of influence, enhancing communication and people skills, providing a way to reciprocate or “give back”, promoting legacy building and allow the opportunity to share learning and wisdom accrued in life experiences, giving focused investment in the life of another, and gaining the personal satisfaction of making a difference.
  • Mentees gain the following: an expanded sphere of influence, enhanced communication and decision-making skills, improvement of time management skills and career development, reduced burnout by finding an integrated work and life balance, help working through ambiguity and constantly changing environments, increased confidence and faster learning of organizational culture, skills, and attitudes, promoted visibility, and an increased feeling of being valued.
  • A mentoring program in an organization: Gains a recruiting edge through exposure to other organizations, gives a sense of community, increases participation and engagement of employees, manages stress while promoting higher productivity, aligns the organization’s goals with personal goals of the employees (which may also help garner support for new organizational initiatives and transitions), improves motivation, raises productivity through specific goal setting, reduces turnover and enhances satisfaction (people leave people, not jobs), enhances communication, reduces organizational silos (divisions within an organization), provides a faster and more robust transfer of knowledge and skills, increases loyalty and retention, provides for better succession planning, promotes organizational mission identity, offers inclusion through more positive relationships within a diverse organizational culture.
  • The benefits listed above are based on a significant number of studies. Let’s look at a few of these statistics in particular:
    • The Emerging Workforces study indicates that individuals are 77% more likely to desire to stay with their current employer and earn marked improvement in performance when engaged in a quality mentoring program with their company.
    • Workforce Management cites that 96% of surveyed businesses reported mentoring as an important developmental tool. This means that mentoring can support growth and the accomplishment of future goals.
    • In a study done by Manchester Incorporated, training dollars were best spent in conjunction with mentoring, because the return on this investment in training was six times the actual dollars spent —well worth the effort because of the potential for impact on personal and professional development.

    We have established that mentoring is a critical tool for developing people in organizations. But what exactly is mentoring?

    Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative learning relationship between two (or more) individuals who share mutual responsibility and accountability for helping a mentee work toward achievement of spiritually integrated, clear, and mutually-defined learning goals.

    Mentoring is not a standardized, one-size-fits-all process.
    Mentoring is an individualized personal investment.

    Mentoring is not a plan for the mentee to become just like the mentor.
    Mentoring is encouraging mentees to become all they can be.

    Mentoring is not the mentor’s agenda.
    Mentoring is developing and supporting the mentee’s agenda.

    Mentoring is not giving all the mentor’s knowledge, opinions, and advice to a clueless mentee.
    Mentoring is coming alongside another person to help them find their own strengths, grow in their ability to make informed decisions, and perform to the best of their ability.

    You have undoubtedly had mentoring experiences already in your life. Think about someone who has mentored you. What did you learn from them? How could this type of experience add to your personal and professional life?

    Tony Dungy, winning coach of the Indianapolis Colts said, “Part of our purpose in life is to build legacy—a consistent pattern of building into the lives of others.” Mentoring is a critical aspect of building a legacy and encouraging the development of others. It can be dramatically effective in promoting your personal growth and development, and contribute toward the success of your organization.

    When informal and formal mentoring is a priority for an organization, a mentoring cultureevolves. This is the goal for NICS—to get to the point when staff members cannot remember a time when active mentoring was not a vital part of their work and life. This type of mentoring results in more information, more learning, acceptance of diverse perspectives, clearer communication…you get the picture!

    Mentoring is a key strategy for staff development and growth in all organizations. It is simple, uses current resources, and most people can be trained very easily. The benefits of a mentoring culture at any organization are numerous. First and foremost, each person should feel valued for the unique creation they are. Through mentoring, strong relationships are built and individual talents, skills, and gifts are discovered and highlighted. Mentoring is a strong tool for harnessing passion and encouraging individuals to see how important they are to the organizational vision!

    Be Strategic About Mentoring

    Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

    As you develop an overall strategy for mentoring, consider a number of factors: your vision and how to sell it, language, purposes, possible champion(s), types of organizational support needed, level of formality, possible roadblocks, and mentoring “delivery modes.”


    1. Develop Your Vision

    Think about and then write down the highlights of what you have in mind. Write in the present tense (as if it’s already happening). Rework your statement until it’s as compelling as you’d like it to be.

    Example of a Mentoring Vision

    Mentoring is what we all do on a weekly basis. We help each other become all God created us to be through informal mentoring relationships with one another. We also enthusiastically participate in a variety of structured mentoring meetings in which people with certain skills, knowledge, and attitudes help others reach their personal, career and ministry goals.

    Review your organization’s stated core values, purpose/mission, and its priorities for the coming year. How could mentoring not only tie in with but help address these priorities?

    Find out what kinds of mentoring are already occurring, even if they’re called something else such as coaching or tutoring. Talk to satisfied participants and make a note of all the benefits they mention. Identify people who could be mentors in your new pilot effort or who could help you sell the concept. Listen to the skeptics as well as those willing to be early adopters.



    2. Consider Language

    Like all disciplines, mentoring has buzz words. Terms familiar to mentoring experts can mean something different and even strange or contrived to newcomers. Think through the words you’ll use, and explain them.

    The term initiative may be more strategic than mentoring program. Another “program” can seem burdensome and undesirable. On the other hand, your organization may like programs by that name. Choose and operationalize other words such as mentor, mentoring, mentee (mentoree? protege?), vision, and others.

    Also take considerable care with naming the initiative itself. Many organizations call it the Mentor Program. Others prefer the Mentoring Program. Still others have a mentoring component (no capital letters) within a larger initiative.



    3. Identify Specific Purposes of the Initiative

    Why are you’re doing this? What purposes will the initiative have? What will be better as a result of all the hard work you’ll have to do?

    Planned mentoring is not appropriate for teaching basic skills, solving discrimination problems, overcoming inadequate hiring practices or understaffed departments, or winning over employees or church members who are deeply upset by large issues. On the other hand, planned mentoring efforts can be useful for: orienting new people; preparing leaders; assisting diversity populations with their careers or future; cross training; spiritual and character development; leadership development; and other purposes. Be discerning with how and when you use mentoring.


    Even if you’re a doer who likes to jump in and get things started, take time to think through your overall mentoring strategy as well as the “sub-strategies” for each aspect of your effort. Doing so will help you feel more confident, answer the myriad questions you’ll hear later, and make wise use of your time and resources.



    4. Analyze Organizational Support

    If your organization is financially in the black, at least some of the leadership is supportive, the target people for the efforts are eager, and the organization isn’t overloaded with other “programs,” the timing and situation could be right for your mentoring program. On the other hand, if your organization is experiencing financial problems, downsizing, layoffs, large-scale reorganization, major legal investigations, or other challenges likely to take time and affect morale, the setting and timing probably won’t be right.


    Perhaps more than any other organization development effort; planned mentoring needs support from the top down. If top-level leaders believe in, talk about, and want to improve mentoring, you’ll have a far better chance of succeeding than if they don’t—or even if they’re neutral on the idea. Will management’s verbal support be backed up with their own time investment, financial support to cover at least a part-time coordinator, training, learning resources, and other costs? The mentoring program at Denver Seminary is successful because of the support of the president and provost, the formation of a dedicated task force, as well as their having made it a requirement for graduation. The mentoring program of MDU Resources Group, Inc., is stronger because their CEO, Martin White, not only supports the effort but serves as a formal mentor.


    Assessing the answers to the following questions can give you insight as to potential road blocks to a new mentoring program:

    Which change efforts seem to work in your organization, and which ones struggle or fail?

    What happened to a recent effort to initiate a major change or improvement?

    Which ideas were well received and carried out?

    Why did they succeed, and what can you learn from those experiences?



    5. Choose Appropriate Champion(s)

    Are you the appropriate champion? Why or why not? If you’re not sure, ask people who’ll be frank with you. Who else can and should be on the planning team? If some of you start the process, can others step in later as needed? Who else can you add? How are these individuals perceived in the organization? Do you have sufficient mentoring expertise in-house or do you need to call in some experts? Can you afford this? What can you get for free or at very little cost from the Internet, professional associations, and other sources?



    6. Consider Positioning

    Make your planned mentoring activities part of a larger scheme, for example, new employee orientation; ministry opportunities, employee, management, leadership, or career development; or succession planning. Link the two efforts. For example, if your mentoring initiative is part of your career development thrust, point to resources (people, websites, written forms, speakers) involved in other career development activities. Where will you “house” your initiative? Some are part of formal HR departments. Others are purposely not in HR and are positioned in sales, manufacturing, or another function.



    7. Decide Levels of Formality

    A comprehensive mentoring effort will include several options:

    Completely informal, leave-it-entirely-to-chance approach to mentoring is going on right now within your organization and will probably continue indefinitely without your doing anything. The difficulty with this completely informal approach is that numerous outstanding individuals are left out. Because of shyness, or a quiet style, or unawareness of how the new mentoring works, they don’t enter into partnerships. But pointing out that this is already happening will make adding more intentional mentoring easier (something like that, Liz- like how Randy used the early mentoring of Dr. Grounds as a foundation to advance the cause of mentoring at Denver).


    Consider adding enhanced informal mentoring, which is more intentional, planned, or formal. Using this approach, you encourage and prepare individuals at all levels of the organization to consider and to develop mentoring partnerships on their own. They decide the level of formality they want to use. You provide some learning resources and other assistance.


    Then you might consider formal mentoring partnerships. Arrange a certain number of mentoring pairs or groups who will meet for a specified period of time. Recruit, screen, select, match, train, and monitor/encourage participants as they work on agreed-upon contracts. Repeat the sequence for additional pairs and groups as long as needs and benefits exist. Implement learning/networking events, and hold a celebration at the end of each cycle. Communicate extensively with participants, leaders, and others throughout the organization, and evaluate all aspects of the initiative.



    8. Choose Delivery Modes

    Does it make sense for mentoring to occur in pairs or in mentoring groups? Both have advantages and disadvantages. Can you possibly offer pairs and groups?

    (See our article on Benefits of the Mentoring Match)



    9. Identify Roadblocks

    Program roadblocks at the onset can include:
    - having no appropriate sponsor,- views that planned mentoring (e.g. for diversity groups) only emphasize exclusion,- difficulty finding sufficient helpers,- time pressures.

    Here are suggestions specifically for the nonprofit leader:
    - Consider a low-key form of enhanced informal mentoring.- Take a year to introduce the idea of mentoring.- Prove yourself a caring, trustable leader, a model mentor.- Craft your own vision of how mentoring could look and feel.- Talk about the topic and how mentoring has helped you.- Explain how you’d like to use mentoring skills with all of them (without being anyone’s formal mentor) and also how you’d like to support their efforts to seek mentoring from others IF they’re interested.- Provide reading materials on mentoring in the learning center.- See if anyone is interested in being on a team to investigate mentoring and how it may (or may not) fit with the organization’s core values and mission.

    Then see what happens!


    Adapted by Dr. Liz Selzer from an article by Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones

    Defining Your Purpose and Passion

    Amanda Dreher - Thursday, October 16, 2014


    As you discover your purpose, it is important to understand your passion. What makes you fly inside? What gives you that spark or charge?


    One of my favorite movie lines is from Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. The leading lady asks a friend if he sees a sparkle when he looks at her. Of course, he doesn't understand what a sparkle is, so she explains that a sparkle is "something reflective of something bigger trying to get out." That is your passion! What is it inside you that gives you a sparkle?


    Here is another way to look at it -- think of a computer. The hardware is how you were born, the software is all your experiences. But, it is just a big, heavy worthless box unless it is plugged in. That is what passion in your life is like-the electricity that makes it all work.


    Passion is powerful, here are a few keys to tapping into yours:

    • Your passion is unique to you. 
    • You must spend time getting to know yourself in order to understand your passion.
    • You cannot borrow anyone else's passion. 
    • While passion is contagious and motivating, it will eventually fizzle if it is not driven from within.
    • There is no substitute for the power generated by a passion
    • A passionate person can do that 10 "interested" people cannot.
    • Passion can guide your decisions and your direction.
    • Following your passion can empower you to take new risks.
    • Pursuing your passion can give you endurance, perseverance and motivation.

    Passion can have very real tangible results when employed in a powerful way.


    Srully Blotnick looked at the longitudinal effects of passion. He asked a group of college students the question of why they chose certain careers to pursue in 1960. He then looked at career results for these students in 1980. What he found was that 83% of the sample selected careers were based on making money, the other 17% chose careers that they wanted to do regardless of the money because they felt passion for the opportunity. At the end of the 20 years, 101 of the 1500 had become millionaires; all but one came from the group who had pursued their careers based on personal passion rather than making money.


    So what can you do to determine what your passion is?

    • Look back over your life and determine the moments when you were the most excited, the most happy, the most fulfilled. Do these times have anything in common? Although the details may be very different, is there one thread common to each instance?

    • What do you easily lose yourself in? Is there something that you can get so engaged in that you loose your sense of time do to shear enjoyment?
    • Consider the people you admire most. Is there a characteristic that they have in common? Perhaps they each have a heart for serving others. Maybe they each are incredible leaders. Are they each very artistic? Understanding your admiration for certain qualities in others may give you some insight into yourself as well.
    • Ask those in your life whom you trust and who know you well. When do they see you light up? Do they notice times when you seem really excited about something in particular? What do they think is your sparkle?

    These activities are a good place to start understanding yourself and your passions better. Remember not to define yourself by one exercise. The idea is to gather as much information about yourself as you can so that you can understand yourself more deeply. As you begin to reflect and ask questions you will likely find your passion to be more clear than you imagined.

    So What Exactly Is Culture and Cultural Mentoring?

    Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Culture: A shared system of beliefs, attitudes, and values that create expectation and norms for behaviors.

    Cross-cultural Mentoring: Appreciating cultural differences while developing a trust relationship that facilitates culturally-appropriate steps toward growth.

    As much as people would like to be immune to the discomfort of the unknown, they often approach others from a fear of the un-familiar rather than curiosity for something new. This is different than the diversity they experience through generational and gender differences – with these, they often assume they know how the other person feels. They aren’t as “foreign” to them as global differences which they may approach differently, admitting their lack of knowledge and understanding. Because of this, you may avoid mentoring relationships with people of other cultures because they seem too difficult, too “foreign,” too hard to build a trusting, close relationship.

    With the global expansion of business, forming these relationships is becoming less of an option and more of a mandate. But it doesn’t have to be something you do out of desperation or force – cross-cultural mentoring can be a great opportunity for the growth spurred by diverse perspectives. Think of all that can be learned from someone who has grown up in a different environment: politically, socio-economically, ethnically, educationally. . . the possibilities for learning are truly endless.

    How do you take the first step toward cross-cultural mentoring relationships? First, become aware of some of the cultural differences you might encounter.

    What differences have you observed when working with people from a different culture?

    How did they deal with information distribution?

    With negotiations/conflict?

    With social events/friendships?

    With leadership?

    These are just a few areas in which you may have noticed behavior different than your own.

    Lois Zachary talks about cross-cultural differences, noting that people can make a big mistake when they assume their way of thinking is identical, or even similar, to the values, protocol, time and punctuality, spatial distance, authority figures (including mentors), decision-making, and appropriate humor of other cultures.

    The culture you are born into and where you are raised actually wires your brain to work a certain way. This is why people from different cultures can be so completely different from each other. One thing we all have in common is that people are all born egocentric and ethnocentric. It is only when you intentionally address this in your thinking that you will be able to form different perspectives from those shaped in you as you grew up.

    Resilience Through Managing Change

    Jessica Winkler - Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Let’s face it! Change happens!

    Think about it, what would this world look like if there was no change? No learning. No developing relationships. No new inventions or innovations. No one would age (well that might be okay in some cases!) Every day would be the same. Change is necessary because with change comes growth and forward movement. With change we can evaluate what we’ve done and then do it better the next time. Change is our springboard for creativity—requiring us to come up with new and exciting solutions. But, practically speaking, change can be hard to deal with.

    Change is much more appealing when you have a part to play in it, as opposed to having it forced on you from situations you cannot control. Everyone has a different perspective of change based on his/her background. For example:

    • For a mother, moving to another state with three sad and resistant children will look very different than to the husband whose job is the reason for the move.
    • For a new teacher who has recently arrived at a school, a change in the school’s procedures will be relatively unnoticed compared with a teacher who has been at the school for over 10 years and has grown accustomed to the routine.

    Take a moment to think about a change you were nervous to do, or one that was difficult, but one you knew was right to do.You endure these kinds of changes because you believe what you are doing is good and right.

    Even change you do not welcome can turn into something very positive for you and for others. The point to learn here is that change, whether welcomed or not, can very often lead to positive outcomes. Managing change well allows you to positively influence your future and the future of those around you. Who knows what long-lasting effects your work will have?

    So managing change then becomes the issue.

    1.The issue of controlWe can’t always control change but we can control our response to it.

    2.The issue of communicationClear communication is critical to working through the bumps of change. So many times changes are made worse because of lack of communication. Strive to err on the side of over-communication.

    3.The issue of personalitySome of us are quick with endings, others are slower. Some of us try to steer clear of change while others look forward to it with great anticipation. Allow for people to react how they need to react.

    4.The issue of leadershipConfident leadership can help people soar through change with relative ease. In the midst of change leaders should:

    • Be proactive
    • Understand the change process. This helps others understand that change is normal.
    • Normalize discomfort
    • Present change as an opportunity
    • Evaluate. Change gives you the chance to evaluate what is good or needs improvement.

    Change is inevitable and resistance is normal. As Mark Twain wisely said: “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.”

    I have found that people typically react in a number of ways to change:

    • Overwhelmed: They cannot be productive because they feel that the change is too big of an event to handle and so they freeze up and don’t do much of anything.
    • Entrenched: These people dig in their heels and resist the change either openly or more subtly in a more passive aggressive fashion.
    • Navigate: These people accept the change and try to figure out how to find a course through that makes sense to them.
    • Junkie: These people love change and jump right into the new situation with both feet. Even if the change doesn’t make sense to them they just like things to be different frequently.
    • Learner: These people see change as an opportunity to learn. They learn from their old situations as well as how the change will make things different in the future.

    So how can you help people move through the change process?

    • Observe how people are reacting and notice how to help them by moving them through the change process, past that critical danger zone from discomfort to discovery.
    • Make sure change is needed, and supports your vision. This way you can promote the change from a heart level, of getting behind a vision that matters. Knowing how the change contributes moving toward an important vision makes people more willing to go through the discomfort. Create a sense of urgency. Why this change? Why now?
    • Keep in mind, the more involved people are in the change, the less resistant they are. Engage together in shaping the process, crafting solutions, supporting each other in daily progress toward the end goal.
    • When you make change try not to communicate that some people are the losers. Explain reasons for accepting, revising or not using their input. They don’t need to have their way, just have their way genuinely considered.
    • Communicate about all aspects.Especially the benefits for everyone. Find touch points and follow up.
    • Generate short-term wins so that people see quickly that the change in this case is necessary for improvement
    • Anchor new approaches in the culture or they will be short lived.

    Finally, when you are trying to determine if change is warranted for your situation, think through these three steps:

    • Imagine your future
    • Evaluate the present
    • Work out your tactical plan to arrive at your ideal the future

    Follow these three steps while moving through the change process and you may find that you enjoy change!

    Mentor Leadership Team




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