Leadership Lessons from the Cottage

During my cottage holiday I enjoyed a blissful moment of absolute tranquility. I was sitting alone, looking out over the river, really just taking it all in when I noticed two woodpeckers, four or five blue jays dive bombing among the trees, squirrels running about their business, sandpipers along the shore… It was all happening around me as if I wasn’t there. Had I been “doing” something, I would have disturbed their habitat and driven them away. The experience would never have presented itself.

In our workplaces, and even in our families, how often do we barrel through our day, too focused on task or time? Are there things that we have disturbed in our haste and ‘activity’? How often do we set aside time to simply observe? What I propose is different than reflective practice which really focuses on yourself, your experiences and what you are learning from them. I am essentially proposing more unobtrusive, direct observation. By simply watching what takes place around us, without interacting, we can see our environment and the relationships within it in a new way.

Maybe with more observation we can retain some of that cottage relaxation as people barrel through fourth quarter!

First Impressions

No matter how you slice it, first impressions matter. In fewer than 15 seconds you have already formed an opinion about me, my page, and the information it conveys. More importantly, your first impression acts as a filter for any additional information you receive about me. If the first impression is good, our future interactions will have a “halo” effect and if I mess up (and fess up), you are more likely to give me the benefit of the doubt. If your first impression is poor (and you’ve kept reading), this may be our last interaction. Worse, if your first impression is poor and we continue to cross paths, you’ll find ongoing evidence to back up your initial impression. You’ll subconsciously look for errors, for reasons to disagree, for ways to discredit me. In that case, I’ll have to work a lot harder to overcome any initial misgivings.

The impact of a first impression extends beyond anyone’s personal brand. The 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer found that if a company is distrusted, 57% of respondents will believe negative information after they have heard it once or twice; but only 15% of respondents will believe positive information after hearing it once or twice. If the organization is trusted, 25% of respondents will believe negative information after hearing it once or twice and 51% will believe positive information after hearing it once or twice.

So, welcome to my blog. Here’s hoping I’ve made a positive first impression. And, here’s a bit more about me.