Welcome to HEN - Transforming Conflict for our Health, Environment, Negotiation
HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping the Workplace Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time! juliamenard.com
HEN arrives at the full moon -
because light transforms darkness.
Full Moon: February 22, 2016 - Year 14, Issue 2
Table of Contents:
1. HEALTH - When Everyone Suffers, You Suffer
I’m really enjoying my most recent class in the Masters of Education (MEd) in Leadership Studies. It’s called Community Leadership and Adult learning and my professor, Ron Faris, is passionate about the cause of income inequality.
As a consequence, you too, dear HEN reader, will benefit from his influence today!
A recent article he sent around from the Harvard Business Review surprised me. It said that income inequality makes us all less happy with our lives, even if we’re relatively well-off.
I had always understood that all indicators show if you have more money, you will be healthier. And, through lived experience, I can see that those without much money are not as healthy.
What I didn’t know, is the impact of income only goes so far – and then the benefits stop. As the gap in incomes grows, this does not result in more benefits for those with more money.
As this article indicates, it actually results in negative, unintended, effects. The authors also cite a 2010 paper by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton, both Nobel laureates. They calculated that day-to-day happiness peaks at an income of $75,000 a year, after which it plateaus (about $85,000 in today’s dollars).
The income gap creates more dissatisfaction and more stress, worry and anger.
The article goes on to say there are implications for pay and compensation policies in organizations as well – since executive salaries today have continued to balloon, growing to as much as 200 times what median workers earn.
The bottom line is, as the article indicates:
"The more income is concentrated in the hands of a few, the more likely individuals are to report lower levels of life satisfaction and more negative daily emotional experiences. That is, the higher the share of national income that is held by the top 1%, the lower the overall well-being of the general population."
So, when one of us suffers, we all suffer. We are all ultimately connected and need to care about each other. When this comes to income disparities, this means starting with even knowing that we gain more when we are all sharing in the wealth - in our organizations and societies.
“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.”
… Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice
2. ENVIRONMENT - Adopt a Farmer!
For my birthday recently, I did the most amazing thing! The evening of my birthday, I found myself convening a conversation about food security in our neighbourhood. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than in service to this great cause.
The group of people gathered shared a passion for growing and eating healthy, local food. We started with a potluck – which is highly recommended in any such community gathering!
Our conversation was far-ranging but there was one key point I want to highlight:
There was a farmer there – someone who had quit her job years ago to make a go at growing fruits and vegetables using a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) model.
A CSA model works on the premise that the local farmer is growing food for the local community. That could include using some of the neighbourhood’s land for growing food, to neighbours subscribing to have local produce delivered.
For this farmer, she couldn’t make a living as a farmer.
So, although she still farms regularly and has a produce stand in the summer, she has gone back to a part-time job to pay the bills.
This is not sustainable. And, even though she’s my neighbor and I’ve known her for years, I didn’t really realize her predicament until the night of my birthday.
It made the stories I have heard about financially struggling farmers come alive. This isn’t just another news story. This is someone I know!
This experience has made me realize we need to talk with our farmers.
When you go to your local farmer’s market – whether it’s a big gathering like a “Moss Street Market” (our local version) - or a small one-farmer stand, ask them how they are doing with their business. Ask them what they still need.
Ask them how you can help!
The dream of my farmer friend was more support for local farmers.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and find out what that means!
“Know your food, know your farmers, and know your kitchen.”
… Joel Salatin
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3. NEGOTIATION - Can You Love Your Staff?
There are a lot of leadership philosophies out there. Some are more conducive to creating strong teams and others are not. While I could research which are and which are not, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have done such a great job of researching what it takes to create exemplary leadership for over 30 years, it just makes sense to me to draw from them.
They have spent years asking this simple question:
"What do you do as a leader when you're performing at your personal best?"
They started asking that question in 1983 and since then they’ve conducted thousands of in-depth interviews and collected on-line data from over 100,000 people across 6 continents. And their findings are consistent. They have found that there are 5 Core Behaviours or Skills that Leaders do to create exemplary experiences for their followers.
- Model the Way – with honesty being the biggest trait and self-awareness being an important part of living out one’s goals in a congruous way.
- Inspire a Shared Vision – such that everyone is going in the same inspired direction.
- Challenge the Process – so that innovation and change can happen.
- Enable Others to Act – involving and strengthening others.
- Encourage the Heart – recognizing others achievements and “making them feel like heroes”.
As I reflect on my work as an organizational conflict consultant, what strikes me lately is that conflict in organizations are often a symptom of something lacking in one or more of these areas. The temptation is to think the conflict presenting itself is about “those two people” when often there are a variety of factors going on, some systemic and some related to leadership skills and qualities.
And it takes a strong leader to stop and have a look at these areas to determine which need work. That’s been my experience working with some amazing, self-reflective leaders.
Furthermore, as I think about one variation of organizational conflict, that between supervisors and employees the last two Practices: Enabling others to act and Encouraging the Heart seem especially important.
When things break down between supervisors and employees, often the supervisor has either stopped believing in their direct report and/or is not able to clearly articulate his or her expectations in a way that might inspire the employee to reach their higher potential.
So when I came across this quote recently, it really spoke to my heart:
“One measure of your success will be the degree to which you build up others who work with you. While building up others, you will build up yourself.”
… Jim Casey
Jim Casey was the founder of iconic UPS - United Parcel Service - in the US. He went on to create the non-profit foundation Casey Family Programs in 1966 - still in existence today - to “help improve the safety and success of vulnerable children and their families across America.”
Quite a legacy!
His quote relates directly to those last two Practices – Enabling Others to Act and Encouraging the Heart.
Who can you build up today and what would you say? As you reflect on the best leaders you’ve had in your life, how did they make you feel more confident about yourself? How can you pass that on as your legacy?
Each of the practices mentioned have their own nuances and ways of playing out. For a more indepth article on Encouraging the heart, which is really at the core of loving your staff, check out this link.
“There is an old adage that says, 'We get what we expect.' When leaders assume that they are surrounded by incompetence, that is precisely what they will find. Conversely, when leaders assume that their subordinates or followers are highly skilled, that is the characteristic that will dominate the environment. In other words, people have a tendency to live up or down to the expectations of their leader.”
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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training