The family business…they have existed for centuries with great success. Although we might recognize an organization as a “family” business, it is likely that you will employ those who do not share your DNA. How does employee motivation factor into your organization? This creates an interesting dilemma - how do you keep your employees motivated when it is common knowledge that they will have the ability to progress only so far within your organization? Better yet - how do you keep them motivated when they are tasked with teaching the next generation of family leadership? I am not sure how I would feel about this, putting in your time for an organization knowing that you will never get to the level you want because you have the wrong last name. What is your take on this?
What makes us joyful? This is a question that we don’t ask ourselves enough in our hectic lives. I recall a song we used to sing in Sunday school when I was a little kid. “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” I used to wonder who or what put it there? Did someone come along and say, “Hey, here is your joy, put it in your heart.” Or was it just a feeling that came over you when something good happened?
I don’t believe I truly understood the idea of joy until I became a young adult. Sure, I was comfortable with the idea of happy, and I am basically a happy person by nature. But pure joy was something I probably felt as a small child and then truly understood later in life. I now see joy as those moments in life when you find pure happiness that just comes along, the feeling that your heart is just overflowing with joy. Of course the big moments in life bring us joy - such as the day I married my husband along with the days we adopted our children. Events such as those make it easy to understand pure, unadulterated joy. There are also moments that bring joy that just sneak up on us. Watching our daughter play outside in the snow when she thinks no one is watching - she is simply joyful. Hearing the laugh of our 2 year-old when he finds something funny - a happy, joyful noise.
Where do we find joy in our everyday lives? When we are faced with the problems that accompany adulthood, are we too jaded to look for the simple joys in life? Do we consider just being happy enough for us? I bet if we were able to block all of the outside “noise” in our lives, we might just be able to find the joy down in our hearts.
I was having a discussion with someone the other day about the idea of leading vs. controlling. Do you lead by telling everyone what to do, or do you provide guidance and then step back?
At times I often find myself falling into the pattern of controlling - especially since becoming a parent. We are so used to directing all aspects of our family life and schedules that we sometimes forget it is okay to just provide direction and allow things to happen on their own. That little controlling voice inside my head does creep up every now and then and creates more chaos than order. For example, how many times are we attempting to run out the door in the morning to get the kids to school on time and one of them is not quite moving as quickly as you would like. Instead of making them responsible for their own actions, you just pull together the homework from last night and stuff it in the backpack at break-neck speed while grabbing their hat and gloves to throw in the car, just to make it easier. Instead of using these moments as a teaching tool for our children, we just become frustrated and act like crazed lunatics. How productive is that?
Is this a pattern with your employees? Micromanaging their every move to the point that you would just rather do the job yourself since they won’t do it in the manner you want. Or better yet, do you find it easier to do it yourself than try to explain once again how you want it done when they didn’t get it right the first time they tried?
I believe ego plays a big role in this type of behavior. Over the years, we have held positions because we are good at what we do. When we have to share these tasks with others, we become the “all-knowing” one, the person who can perform the task better than anyone. It is difficult to provide guidance and take the big step back. With our children, we want them to be able to perform a task and not struggle. So, as the parent, we will step in immediately when they make a mistake or have problems. It is no different with our employees. We often jump in to save the day when all they really need is additional guidance or coaching to help them learn. As their leader, that is our job, to provide guidance and assistance so they can thrive - not control their every move.
As a leader, do you like to pull the puppet strings?
When opportunity comes knocking, don’t slam the door in its face. Always a credo I have lived under throughout my life. While change can be big and scary, I always get some sense of exhilaration from moving to a new town. I love the mystery of finding that new awesome spot for lunch, a new park that the kids will love, or the fun festivals that give a locale its character. I guess it is no mystery that I have moved around quite a bit since I graduated from college. And no, I was not running from the law – I just happened to work in the hospitality industry and moved often to advance my career. When my husband came home and asked how I felt about the possibility of moving to Detroit, I really didn’t know what to think. I had been to downtown Detroit once when I was in high school, and I didn’t really remember much of the experience. All I knew about Detroit was what I heard in the media. And at this point in my life, I usually believe about half of what I hear from the popular media. So, we talked about it and decided it sounded like too good of an opportunity to pass up.
When we told people we were moving to Detroit, everyone said, “Really? I am so sorry,” or “why would you want to move there?” I don’t understand why someone would say this when they have never been to this city. Yes, the city does have its own set of issues, but I believe you could probably say the same for many other cities across the country. Every city has issues, they just vary from place to place. While the media portrays the city of Detroit as this miserable hopeless place that people should flee, it is amazing to see what kind of city actually exists. I can look at this objectively, as I am not a native, I am not a Michigander so I don’t possess the same sense of “hometown pride” that others that were born and raised here might have. What I have noticed in my short time here is a place that has this crazy frenetic energy. It appears as if people have this sense of hope, like everything is going to be okay if they just keep moving forward.
To truly understand a place, I feel it is important to be still and watch what goes on around you. As I write this, I am being quite cliché and sitting in my favorite coffee house in downtown Detroit – The Roasting Plant. I love one of their tag lines, “Fueling the Motor City.” – It is as if they believe they are keeping the city of Detroit moving. Besides having the best cup of coffee in town, they are also located in a great part of the city, Campus Martius – a crazy hub of activity. Watching all of the young professionals grabbing their important cup of human-fuel on their way into the various office buildings. People are sitting at tables like me and tapping away at their computers. One cannot be sure if they are actually working or just checking the sports scores from last night. Trying to look official while easing into a busy Friday. Cars keep moving around the circle, trying to get where they are going, dodging the multitude of pedestrians attempting to cross the street anywhere but in the crosswalks.
This place is always moving. Shuttle buses weave through the city with “Opportunity Detroit” splashed across the side – like a rally cry to those who live here. Inspiring everyone with an idea that the city is sitting on the verge of greatness. There is an opportunity for something amazing to happen if everyone keeps moving forward. The city is alive and buzzing with activity. Crews are setting up a stage for an upcoming concert in Campus Martius; vendors are setting up booths in Cadillac Square to sell their goods to all who come by to visit. Food trucks are parked, primed and ready for the lunch rush. People are taking a mid-morning break to escape the confines of their office buildings and soak up some late summer sunshine. I’m still looking for the abysmal existence that is supposed to belong to this city. I am aware that it exists, but I haven’t found it in this part of the city.
It’s high noon, and people are still on the move. An afternoon concert is entertaining the masses while they hang out by the food trucks, eat their lunches, enjoy the weather, and dance when the mood strikes. People move about enjoying their afternoon, wondering how long they can stretch their lunch hour.
When the workday concludes, people pour out of the various office buildings to gather together to enjoy their summer. They eat, drink, listen to music, and laugh. They gather together to prepare to see their beloved Tigers or Lions. Fans of all ages dressed in their team colors enjoy the scene prior to heading over to the game, moving in the same direction.
There is a true sense of community in Detroit. The energy flows throughout this city and is a contagious force. When Detroit made a bid to host the X-Games and lost out to another city, did they sit around wringing their hands about the injustices of life? No, they went back to work and are in the process of developing their own event for the city. The can-do spirit here seems to defy reason. Despite the financial crisis that has put the city on the brink, the attitude is one of defiance – this will not break the spirit of those living here, they simply will not allow it to happen. They have an immense amount of pride and love for their city. They keep moving forward.
The media wants everyone to think that Detroit is all doom and gloom. Problems do exist, but it does not dictate the attitude of its residents. I would challenge those naysayers to come and get a true representation of what Detroit and its people are all about. They are not about giving up and going into hiding. They are about rolling up their sleeves and moving forward to prove everyone wrong about their city.
Formulating your own opinions prior to making an informed decision about something may not always be a popular or hip thing to do – people believe it is important to listen and follow what the popular media feeds us. We allow our opinions to be formed by Twitter, Facebook, and whatever major celebrity might be blogging about. Had I listened to the popular media and those who thought their opinion was worth sharing, I might have missed out on experiencing life. Had my thoughts been governed by what I read online or watched on television, I never would have discovered many great places nor had as many wonderful experiences like we are having in the “D”!