I still believe we can make a difference working together

Managers can create a workplace that has the spirit of giving all year long

Grace is wearing her Santa costume and that’s as close as she wants to get to a big bearded guy in a red suit, especially when he is surrounded by a crowd of noisy kids. There are other ways we can make her happy for Christmas, which include lots of marrow bones!

As Christmas approaches, visions of Santa Claus in his furry red suit are dancing in my head. My husband teases me that I should take Grace to get her photo taken with Santa (she would freak and he knows it, that’s his sense of humor). So while neither one of us would actually torture her with a visit to sit on Santa’s lap, I think Grace believes in magic (how else would her beloved marrow bones appear?). And I still believe that people can learn, grow, develop, and create something stronger together, once they are aligned with the same information and goals.

As I reflect back on this year, I’ve learned more than I ever set out to know about a dog’s nervous system, nutritional needs, and how those things impact behavior. Some of my new-found knowledge goes against what I had always believed. You mean dry dog food is not good for dogs? Could there be some link to Grace’s nervous system and/or nutrition to her seizures? I had always been told (and believed) that the cause of seizures could never be identified. Hearing personal stories and reaching into new information tells me otherwise.

I don’t have answers for all the things I’m learning about. My eyes have been opened to understanding the implications of my human choices (such as food we give her and how often we vaccinate) have on her overall health.

And in the workplace, this happens, too. Managers could set in place something that has unintentional, and unknowing, consequences on the behavior of employees. A seemingly benign remark or decision by a manager can create a disgruntled employee who lacks enthusiasm and zeal for their job.

Thankfully, managers can also create inspirational and uplifting workplaces. On Tuesday night, I attended a holiday party hosted by one of my long-time clients. What an amazing group of dedicated people, totally committed to their mission. They understand how everything has a connection to another. During the CEO’s remarks that evening, he reflected back when he started the company in 1999. He read a few paragraphs from a document entitled “Our Operating Values.” Here are a few examples:

Family/Community Responsible
Family is our first community. We strive for life-work balance and keeping promises to those “communities” closest to us. This key value relates consciously to and monitors personal, business and geographic community — family, friends, employees, customers, suppliers, competitors, government, local partners, students, community organizations, and others.

Take and Give Open Critique as a Caring Attitude
We all learn by experience. If you make a mistake, it’s OK. Shake it off and try to learn from it. If someone else does, let them know and try to be constructive and supportive. This attitude will go a long way to making us a better and, ultimately, more successful company.

Let Those Good Ideas Rip
If you think you have the ultimate cure or idea, blast an email about or bring it up a staff meeting. We are about continuous improvement and each of us has the capability to create positive change if it is encouraged — and it is.

This is just a sampling of the ideals they actively embrace. This isn’t window-dressing or lip service. I bet it’s no surprise to you that the team is strong, cohesive, fun, and productive. They are a role model for other organizations in their industry. They are open to learning, helping, encouraging, and supporting each other, even when that means challenging their own beliefs. In the end, this has a positive impact on the bottom line, too. That’s something every business leader strives to accomplish.

Grace reminds me of the need to learn, grow, and develop. Her physical and behavioral issues have challenged me to reach beyond what I knew, in order to learn more and do better. I hope organizations will take her lead. 

Merry Christmas and may your holidays be filled with grace! (Thanks to LeeAnn for coming up with that great phrase.)

This holiday season, we’ll be keeping Grace away from Santa but not away from the spirit of giving. I hope the same for you personally, as well as professionally. You can make a difference by establishing a compassion and caring culture, working together for a common cause.

To readers who have joined “Graceful Leadership” this year, Grace and I thank you. It’s been a privilege to learn with you and I am excited to see all the good things that the new year will bring.

I still believe that we can all make a difference together. Isn’t that what Santa is all about?

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3 comments

  1. Grace looks gorgeous in her Christmas costume:) I’m sure she is pleased you’ve learned so much about doggie stuff last year … it’s just turned over to 2012 here!

    It sounds like you work with some very successful, special people. I always find your blog posts so interesting, Robin, even if it often takes me days to totally understand them:) But it does help with the connection to Grace. I’m much more at ease with dogs than people.

    All the best for 2012 and I’m looking forward to reading more interesting posts from you this year.

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