Tag Archives: leadership

What Makes a Hero?

What makes a hero? I cogitate on this question every year as July 20th approaches.  On July 20, 1944, a group of German Army officers came darned close to killing Adolf Hitler with a bomb.  Today those officers are considered heroes of the anti-Nazi resistance. It wasn’t always that way, though.

 

In 1944, the officers were considered traitors by their fellow Germans and by the people on the Allied side of the war.  In 1944, only anarchists, traitors and Communists were so morally challenged as to commit political murder.  No one wanted to believe that respectable, educated, upper-class men would commit pre-meditated murder.

 

So who were the German officers who tried to kill Hitler? They were primarily Junkers or German aristocrats and most of them were related to each other. They tended to be devout Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. They thought, incorrectly, that if they killed Hitler, the western Allies (U.S., Britain, and France) would sign a ceasefire and agree to join them in fighting the Russian Communists.

 

Alas, their bomb failed to kill Hitler and the Nazis took revenge.  Henning von Tresckow, the mastermind, died on the eastern front hours before Gestapo agents stepped off a plane to arrest him. Graf von Stauffenberg, who planted the bomb, was shot by firing squad on the evening of July 20th. They were the lucky ones.  Most of the other plotters, and quite a few innocents, were taken to Gestapo headquarters in Berlin where they were tortured before being tried in kangaroo courts and hanged.

 

Their wives and children ended the war in prison or in concentration camps. The youngest children were sent to orphanages. Stauffenberg’s widow gave birth to her daughter in prison and spent about 10 years searching orphanages trying to find her sons.  The widows were ostracized after the war until the 1960’s when their dead husbands were proclaimed as heroes.

 

The plotters became heroes because West Germany needed heroes. In 1945, Germany was split in two. East Germany was occupied by the Russians. West Germany was created from the American, French and British occupation zones. By the 1960’s, West Germany needed heroes to give the country a sense of continuity with the past but without the taint of the Nazis.  The German officers who plotted to kill Hitler fit the requirements and became heroes.

 

So what makes a person a hero?  In the case of the July 20th conspirators, it was political necessity. But I like to think that the July 20th conspirators would have been recognized as heroes even without political necessity. They were truly brave men who knew they were risking the lives of their families in their quest to build a better future for all.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Contact me at norma.shirk@complianceriskadvisor.com.

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The Women’s Movement:  Still Work To Be Done

equality

My greatest role model was my mother, a true woman of the 1950s.  She was, and remains for me, the smartest person I’ve ever known.  She was college educated, well traveled, cultured, the only child of a high profile, socially and politically active local power couple.  But when she expressed her desire to become a lawyer, her father, the judge, encouraged her to become a teacher.  Much more appropriate for a woman, he told her.  Women lawyers at the time were considered, in her words,  “mannish,” and not attractive as wives and mothers.  And so she became a teacher, married, raised a family, cared for elderly parents, volunteered and eventually, re-entered her profession.  She was a voracious reader and encouraged discourse during family dinners.  No topic was off limits.

During my childhood in the 1960s and ‘70s I had a front row seat to watch the women’s movement unfold, although I was too young to be an active participant.  Sometimes I feel like I fell between the cracks; too young to claim the struggle and too old to be a real beneficiary of my older sisters’ fight.  And so I began my adult life without a template, my bra a bit singed but still intact, my mother’s encouragement that I could be anything I wanted ringing in my ears, but still unsure of how to carve out a path.

Over the years, I’ve managed to raise kids, own a business, return to grad school twice and become a community leader.  I’ve watched my daughter grow into a strong, independent, free thinker whose life choices so far are very different from my own.  She and her generation are the real legacy of those that fought the good fight.

And yet, there is still work to be done.  A few years ago we were shopping for a family car.  At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom and the car was for me to drive while schlepping kids around.  At the dealership, the salesman continually addressed my husband with details about the car, despite the fact that I was the one asking the questions.  At one point my husband, God love him, looked the salesman straight in the eye and said, “You should talk to her.  She’s the one who will be driving the car and she’s making the decision.”

I am now about to open a new business and on a recent afternoon, meeting with a leasing agent for a space, my business partner and I were encouraged to “work our feminine wiles,” to get a good deal.  My partner, who is much younger than I am, blew it off.  I, however, am still seething.  This man, about my own age, objectified us and when I called him out for his sexist stereotyping of us, he defaulted to the old, “I’m just kidding,” response.  It was not funny to me.

So what’s next?  At this time in our nation’s history, I fear the progress my older sisters fought for will be rolled back.  A journalism professor of mine, who’d been a wartime reporter in Vietnam, wrote about the influence of birth control on women entering the workforce.  Armed with the ability to choose when, and if, to start a family, women had more control over their lives.  So, too, with Roe v. Wade, women can control their own health care decisions.  Will this all disappear?  The public discourse today sounds to me like an old newsreel from my childhood.  Sadly, it’s not.

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  And while it’s easy these days to give in to despair and fear, I am determined to remain hopeful and heartened.  I remind myself that everything changes and I can be a catalyst for positive change.  I also take heart as I watch my daughter embark on a career once reserved only for men, in the world of sports.  She has found a place in which to express her passion and talents and I hope she will also reach back into her history and know she stands on some very strong shoulders.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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To Partner, or Not to Partner:  That is the Question

partnership

Although the calendar year is winding down, for me it is also the beginning of the year 5777, the Jewish New Year.  This means I get a second crack at New Year’s resolutions, a head start on planning for 2017 and also, thanks to several weeks of holidays, a renewed spiritual energy.  And it’s a good thing, too, because I have a feeling 2017 is going to be filled with change.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so let me explain.  I am in the process of developing three different major professional projects.  Two of them are solely my own, but one of them involves a potential partner.  That is perhaps the project that is the most daunting and also the one that is currently the most fun.

I have never had a business partner before.  Many years ago I owned a small franchise business and although I was part of a supportive network of owners, I was pretty much on my own.  I enjoyed all of the success, but also shouldered all of the burdens.  This time around, I’m planning to partner with a friend, something most people run from.  But I am confident we have a very specific division of responsibilities and a very clear vision for what we want to create.  And while I have some anxiety over sharing control, I believe for now that it’s a worthwhile trade off.

I want to offer some tips for partnering because whether it’s with a friend or someone who is just a business associate, there are some things that are universal.

  1. Before deciding to partner, figure out if it’s really necessary. That sounds obvious, but many people get carried away with the idea of going into business with their BFF and before you know it, things are out of control.  Conversely, some people lack the confidence to go it alone and default to having a partner.  So ask yourself, “What do I bring to the table, and what is missing?”  If the missing skills and talents are things you can learn on your own, by all means try it.  If there are specific skills you lack that cannot be readily acquired, consider a partner.  Also consider your financial resources.  Do you need to invest with someone, or can you take the risk yourself?
  1. Once you decide you require a partner, work on developing your business plan together. TAKE. YOUR. TIME.  Do not rush this part of the process.  It is critical to the success of the partnership that you learn how to communicate and get to know each other’s quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  Even if you are friends, this is a new context for your relationship and it will take time to develop.
  1. Figure out how you will divide your responsibilities and financial resources. It is critical that you both have a clear sense of who is doing what.  Again, obvious maybe, but it’s amazing how quickly things can unravel in all the excitement and stress of setting up a new business.  This is a good time to consider consulting an attorney who can help you define the parameters of the partnership and it’s dissolution.  Kind of like a business pre-nup!
  1. Be patient! Setting up a business takes time.  Patience is definitely not one of my virtues, but I’ve been working at it.  It helps to make realistic goals and expectations.  Having a partner is beneficial for me because we keep each other in check and commiserate when things don’t go as planned.
  1. HAVE FUN! I know it’s business but really, why take the risk if you don’t believe in what you’re doing and it isn’t fun. Try to stay focused on your goals and find pleasure in the little things.  Finally getting a call back from a potential landlord after several attempts to connect, hearing potential clients tell you they can’t wait for your business to get going, finding out you can get a discount on some of your necessary materials.  Things like these add fuel to your dream.  Keep going, it’s worth it!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Memorial Day

Memorial Day
This past Memorial Day weekend was perfect in its blue-sky, cotton-cloud beauty, in its breezes that tamed the almost 90-degree heat in Nashville, and in its opportunities to gather with friends and family.  This ushering-in-of-summer weekend, this celebration of all the things like watermelon and burgers and kids running around and fireflies and even fireworks, seemed light-hearted in its easy and breezy fun.

And yet – and yet – this day also carries undertones and overtones of other days, days that were darker, full of other kinds of feelings and memories.  This is a day the origins of which are disputed, but no matter where it began, it in some way began as a remembrance of those who died when this country was rent by civil war.  Whether begun by Southern women, freedmen, or Northern generals, the day evolved over the years into what it is today:  a memorial to those in this country who lost their lives in defending the lives of others.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.  As a child I read the Cherry Ames: Student Nurse Series enthralled by the tales of bravery involving WWII.  As a young teen I read Janet Lambert’s series focusing on the Parrish family, whose parents were military and whose young men aspired to join the service and attend West Point.  As I entered college, our country was beginning to face the struggle of Vietnam, and my patriotic ideals began to become mixed up with the war protests that were common in my northeastern college.  I was uncertain about what to think about the whole idea of the military.  For a time I turned to pacifism, but then I realized that if attacked I could not condone doing nothing.

These confusions continue, but what I know today is that I hold in high esteem those men and women who choose to serve their country by joining one of the services.  I am thankful for these men and women, and I hold the memory of those who died in the service of others with gratitude and thanks.

At the same time, I continue to struggle with the need for war, the reality of war.  Although I was never a great fan of Dwight David Eisenhower, I have recently come across some things that he said, and they make really good sense.

Eisenhower said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.  War settles nothing.”

He also said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

I hope that the words of this old soldier will be heard.  At a time when war seems endless, let’s remember that, as Ike said, war settles nothing.  In the meantime, we remember, and we are grateful.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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Leadership Lessons:  It’s Not All Fun and Games

Fun and Games

 

I am, at heart, someone who loves to have fun and enjoy myself.  This does not mean I can’t be serious when the situation calls for it.  In fact my family members have been known to tell me to lighten up, take things easy, chill out.  But spending my time doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling, that add value to the world around me, brings me joy and pleasure.  I am also, by nature, an optimist and an extrovert.  This makes me, for better or worse, a natural cheerleader and people-pleaser.  Whether it’s encouraging my kids or spouse when they face challenges or telling a member of my leadership team that they should just “go for it,” when they have an idea for a program or fundraiser, I just can’t help myself.  The glass must always be half full, darn it!  Thankfully, I have a spouse and others in my support network who are realists and who can bring me down to earth when it’s time for some tough love.

This brings me to the hardest leadership lesson I’ve learned so far.  Sometimes it is out of my control to make things fun and joyful, for me and for those around me.  There are difficult decisions that must be made and not everyone will be happy with the outcome.  Being a leader means shouldering the burden and being willing to face criticism, and to answer for your actions or the actions of others.

I recently had to make such a decision, for the good of the organization.  I did my homework, consulted advisors both inside and outside.  I listened to opinions on both sides of the issue.  In the end, I made a decision that disappointed and hurt someone I care about.  I’m not going to lie, it sucks!  I do not like being that person who can’t please everyone.  And while I stand by my decision and feel confident I did the right thing, it has been tough going.

During the worst of it, someone whose opinion I trust and whose insights I value, said, “Being a leader is not all fun and games.”  An obvious thing, really, but that simple statement brought me comfort.  It gave me perspective and the permission to not please everyone all the time.  It also helped me to see that making a good decision, the right decision, can be satisfying on its own.  Even if I have to disappoint people, something I abhor, there is some pleasure to be had in taking the long view, in stepping up to lead an organization and knowing that this too shall pass.

This latest trial has left me with some scars and bruises, but I feel stronger and more confident as a leader.  I know that next time, and there most definitely will be a next time, I will be better prepared for the pain.  And while leadership isn’t all fun and games all the time, it is an experience I treasure and one I truly enjoy.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Women and the White House

White House

 

The current election cycle is a reminder of how far our country still has to go in its treatment of women. We’ve never had a woman president. To understand why, take a look at the history of women presidential candidates.

The first woman to run for president was Victoria Woodhull. She had to form her own party because the established political parties refused to acknowledge her candidacy.  After all, women couldn’t even vote back in 1872. Woodhull ran on a platform of “free love,” meaning legal protection for abused women and no-fault divorces.  Preachers denounced her as an offense to God and the natural order of things.

A century later in 1972, Shirley Chisholm ran for president as a Democratic Party candidate.  Every time her name was mentioned, people laughed. No one believed a black woman should be, or could be, president. Her presidential run is a footnote because 1972 was the year of Nixon’s reelection and the beginning of the Watergate scandal.

In 1984, no woman ran for president, but Democrat Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential candidate. They lost by a landslide to incumbent Ronald Reagan, but their campaign wasn’t helped by the attacks against Ferraro and her husband. Her husband was Italian-American and he owned a construction company in New York City.  Voters were warned that a vote for Geraldine was a vote for the Mob.

This time around, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton announced White House runs.  Ms. Fiorina dropped out early. Her critics warned that she would be a lousy president because she was a difficult boss and showed poor business judgment while she was CEO of Hewlett Packard.  Hillary Clinton stands accused of dishonesty, poor leadership and owing her political life to Wall Street bankers.

Historically, male candidates have also been accused of poor business judgment, poor leadership, not playing well with others and being in hock to special interests. But these “character” flaws are rarely considered a serious handicap for male candidates.

What does this tell us about our country?

  1. Women are deemed un-presidential for exhibiting the same qualities that apparently make men presidential material.
  2. Women only appear on a major party’s ticket when that party is expected to lose the general election.

Would a woman make a good president? I don’t know. I do know that some incredibly useless, incompetent and politically tin-eared men have occupied that esteemed office.  A woman president could hardly do worse damage than the male duds.

I’d like to see women of all political persuasions work together to fight the social stereotypes that automatically discount women as presidential material.  Years ago, a cigarette brand marketed to women used the tagline “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

I think we’ve still got a long way to go.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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Leadership Lessons:  What’s Your Style?

Style 3

I was fortunate to have two years to plan for my presidency of our synagogue’s Board of Trustees.  And for several years before that, I was a member of the Board and Executive Committee.  Those prep years were invaluable for helping me to observe the presidents who came before and to learn about various leadership styles.  One thing is clear: there is no “perfect” way to lead.  As in politics, there are many different types of leaders and it is important for each to bring her unique skills and talents to the table.  I do, however, have some observations about various styles.  Here they are, in no particular order.

1. The Micro-Manager

We’ve all worked with and for these folks.  They love to have their hand in just about every aspect of an organization and, if you’re not careful, will “check in” several times a day with staff and others to make sure things are “going okay.”  This is really their attempt to control all aspects of the organization, project or event.  Micro-managers can be sweet and lovable, but also very annoying.  Give good direction, trust your team and then let go.  If they need you, they’ll ask.  If you see someone veering off course, you can always jump back in.

2. The “Hands-off” Leader

Everyone likes to say they are “very laid back,” but in practice a laid back or “hands off” leader can be difficult as well.  This person, while well-meaning, is often not very confident in her abilities as a leader and, consequently, doesn’t lead.  Relaxed is good, empowering others is great, but a strong leader models the behavior they want to see in their team.  If your leader lacks vision and drive, if she gives no direction, things can fall apart quickly.

3. Where Does the Buck Stop?

Some people really want to be a leader, but they lack something I believe is one of the most important qualities: accountability.  Regardless of who falls down on the job or which ideas don’t pan out, the leader of an organization must be willing to take responsibility.  No, everything is not your fault, but making decisions and managing outcomes are key parts of being a leader.  Be mindful of who is on your team and what they can deliver and manage your own expectations.  When things don’t go as planned, be ready to face the music.

4. “I’m Just Not Organized”

Not everyone is a detail oriented, chart-making, list-keeping type of leader.  But it is important to develop your own way of staying organized.  In any organization there are many things that require attention on a daily basis.  Some things are more urgent than others, but it’s important to be able to prioritize and manage time.  Remember, everyone is looking to you to set the tone.  If being organized is simply not your innate style, enlist the help of a trusted assistant.  Just remember you cannot blame the assistant if the system breaks down.  See #3 above!

5. “I Can Do It All Myself”

When I was young, my mother told me that a good leader knows when to ask for help.  Along with accountability, I believe this is also one of the most important skills a leader should have.  In planning for my presidency, I got to know a lot of people in the congregation and developed key relationships with people I knew I’d want on my team.  For an extrovert like me, getting to know people is one of the most fun parts of being a leader.  I admit I am still amazed when people agree to help or be on the team, but it is gratifying to work together toward a common goal.  Do not be afraid to ask for help.  No one can do it all by themselves.  Those that try are doomed to either failure, or plenty of sleepless nights and frustrating days.

 

So there you have it, my take on leadership styles.  How do you find yours?  This process takes soul searching, honesty, observation and trial-and-error.  If you’ve already completed this process before you take leadership, good for you!  If not, remember #5 on my list:  ASK FOR HELP!  There are plenty of mentors out there waiting to give advice and guidance.  And if you don’t have someone, contact me here at HerSavvy.com.  I would love to be a part of your team!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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History is Alive

Books

I am frequently asked why I love history so much.  History is alive. It’s full of people and how they lived their lives.  Since we learn by observing other people, historical persons are the ultimate role models.

For example, George Washington was brilliant at projecting confidence.  The worse things got, the more he appeared calm and confident. His attitude inspired his troops to continue fighting for eight years in the Revolutionary War. Any business owner understands the importance of projecting confidence to employees, clients, and competitors. Confidence breeds success.

Another guy I’m partial to is General George Thomas, nicknamed the Rock of Chickamauga.  Why? When the entire Union line broke and scampered back to Chattanooga, Tennessee, he refused to retreat and ordered his men to stop the Confederates. He turned a potential disaster into merely an embarrassing day for the Union Army.

Every business owner has experienced a version of Chickamauga when a key client cancelled a contract leaving a giant hole in the company’s bottom line or a project went hideously wrong. Successful business owners hold their nerve, trust their team and battle on to retrieve something from the mess.

History also gives us perspective. Without historical comparisons, we have a tendency to believe the challenges we face are brand new. But there truly is nothing new under the sun because human nature doesn’t change.

Take a look back at the first “world war” known as the Peloponnesian War which lasted from 431 – 404 B.C. Athens and Sparta fought across Greece, then on to North Africa, Sicily, Spain, and all Mediterranean points in between. They trashed the known world fighting for economic and political control. The war created an opportunity for the competing Persian Empire to try to conquer Europe.  It all seems a bit like Microsoft and Apple who were so busy fighting each other they failed to recognize the threat posed by Google.

The Peloponnesian War is described in wonderful detail by Thucydides. He had time to write because he was unemployed after disagreeing with his superiors about the Athenian strategy to defeat Sparta. He’s an early example of making a career transition, in his case from soldier to historian.

Thucydides tells of heroic battles and the suffering of civilians, of spies and traitors. His most memorable character is Alcibiades who sold out his home town of Athens to the Spartans, then switched sides, before pulling yet another switcheroo. Alcibiades eventually sold out all the Greeks to the Persians.

Alcibiades must have been charming because it took years for the Athenians and Spartans to stop trusting him. Today, Alcibiades would be labeled as anti-social or sociopathic. I’ll bet you’ve met an Alcibiades at some point in your career.

These few examples illustrate why I love history.  I have role models for every possible event in my life.  I can see how current challenges are the same or different than historical events and that guides my strategy on how to react.  No how-to book will ever match what I can learn from history.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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Lessons in Leadership: Learning to Listen

Listening

I have recently been elected President of our synagogue’s Board of Trustees, a position for which I had been preparing for several years.  The last couple of years leading up to my presidency, I began paying special attention to the current president, observing her leadership style and comparing it to other past presidents.  And now that I have been in the role for a few months, I’m figuring out my own style and learning some valuable lessons.

First and foremost for me is learning to listen.  My profession as a news reporter requires me to both ask questions and listen for answers.  The goal is to seek out information relevant to the story I am pursuing, digest it and present it in a clear, balanced, fair manner.  It is up to the consumer to draw her own conclusion about the information.

As a leader, I am required to listen first to my constituents’ thoughts, problems, suggestions, complaints, etc.  Often what people want most is to be heard.  For example, there is one older woman, recently widowed, who calls me regularly and will also pull me aside in synagogue to chat.  At first I tried to avoid her, fearing criticism or complaining.  But after thinking about it, I decided to dive in head on when she calls or asks to talk.  What I found is that she is lonely, cares deeply about the congregation and really trusts my leadership.  Now when she wants to talk I gladly spend time with her.  The key for me is to just listen, ask minimal questions and when she is done, I thank her for her thoughtfulness, concern and dedication.

This practice of listening also applies to other leaders in the community.  There is one particular Board member who calls often to voice his opinion, usually on a topic recently covered in a meeting.  With this person, I often screen his calls because he leaves long voice messages, covering much of what he wants to discuss.  He is a really nice, caring guy, but also long winded.  Again, what he wants most is to be heard, so by waiting until I have sufficient time, he can get that need met.  I’ve learned he is insecure about speaking up at meetings and sometimes needs a little more time to formulate his thoughts and opinions.  The meetings are often fast paced, with the same few folks doing most of the talking, and he just isn’t comfortable.  But I value his opinions and I am trying to encourage him to speak up more.

Just before I took office I met with my friend who was the outgoing President.  She said that she thinks of congregants like her kids.  Sometimes they just want comfort and to know someone is listening.  She encouraged me to find my own leadership style and advised me to never forget that I am always being evaluated and observed by others.  It was good advice.

What are your leadership lessons?  Let us know and be watching for more of mine.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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3 Mistakes of Networking

NetworkingNetworking is a skill that must be developed, as I learned the hard way when I started my own business. Based on my experiences, I’ve developed a hit list of networking mistakes. Here are my top 3:

Mistake #1: No preparation. A mistake I made early on was not thinking about what I wanted out of the meeting.  Was I expecting to walk away with a new client?  Could the person I was meeting connect me to someone I wanted to meet?  Who did I want to meet? Was there someone in my network that I could connect to the person I was meeting?  In other words, I didn’t prepare properly. I learned my lesson.  Now when the other person says “so how can I help you,” I whip out my list of 3 – 5 names to which I’d like to be connected.  It all starts with preparation.

By now, everyone knows that LinkedIn and Facebook are great resources for gathering information about people. I want to know if we have any common interests or experiences. I also look at company websites to see who they target as customers to see if there are ways we can help our mutual businesses.

Mistake #2: No show.  It can be a challenge to schedule a meeting because anyone you really want to meet already has multiple obligations making it difficult to find an open date.  But if we’re agreeing to meet it means we both expect to get something of value from the meeting.  So not showing up is bad. I’ve waited at coffee shops for people who never showed and never called to let me know they couldn’t make the meeting.  It’s hard not to take it personally.  To limit the no show problem, I confirm via email a day or two before the scheduled date.  When I’ve screwed up and missed a meeting, I’ve emailed or called the other person as soon as possible to apologize.  I want to limit the damage done to my reputation.

Mistake #3: No referrals.  I’ve lost count of the coffee meetings I’ve had where the other person offered nothing. What was the point of meeting if you’re not prepared to make connections? One of the most effective networkers I know goes into each meeting expecting to connect the other person with at least one person in his network.  Even if he doesn’t get any referrals, he’s helped the other person achieve a goal.  My networking improved when began using the same approach. If I can help others achieve their goals, I will eventually be rewarded.

As I continue to hone my networking skills, I’m sure my list of networking mistakes will also be refined. Meanwhile, I continue striving to avoid committing my top 3 mistakes of networking.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

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Filed under Business Savvy