Dumbledore's Source of Magic
“Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic,” says Dumbledore from the grave in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, released at midnight last night.
 
Dumbledore joins the tradition of great leaders whose words resonate beyond death to influence our thinking and behavior. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” said JFK. “I have a dream that one day my children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King preached. Gandhi told us, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” These words are part of us, written first on our doorposts and then on our hearts.
 
Effective leaders craft words that work magic. Their words point to a preferred future, create a desired culture, or build a brand so palpable that people live it every day, in every action. These chosen few words carry deep meaning internally, and they have power to align and focus people on what to do next, how to do it, and why. These are the words leaders repeat often, highlight in stories and well-designed feedback, and even use to decide who will stay and who must go.
 
Leaders I spoke with this week were searching for language that would cast the right spell on their organizations—compelling, powerful words imbued with deep values and rich connotations. In these conversations, I heard phrases like “unpretentious leadership,” “covenantal partnerships,” and “transformational engagement.” These leaders, committed to the not-urgent-but-essential task of finding the right words, are using an iterative process that includes both private reflection and the perspectives of others.
 
Have you employed Dumbledore’s powerful and inexhaustible leadership tool? What words are shaping your organization?  
 
RUTH / LEADERSHIP / CULTURE / Jul 15, 2011, 5:48pm / Comments (1)
Seeing More Clearly with FOG
I have ants. More correctly, ants are in my house. 
 
Thinking about how to remove the ants, I remembered seeing a product where unwanted bugs take the bait, but it doesn’t kill them immediately. Instead, they carry it back to their colony and offer it as food to the group. The bait then poisons the queen and the other ants.
 
Sometimes, humans operate this way as well. We bring information into our groups and organizations. We often call this information “a fact” when in reality it is an opinion or a guess disguised as a fact. We may even use words like “The fact is if we don’t …”  The group digests this information, makes decisions based on it, and often reaches erroneous conclusions. The result is a poisonous course of action.
 
At THINC, we often encourage groups to use the “FOG Test.” For statements individuals make, we ask if the statement is: 
  • FACT. Is this something that can be verified by independent and credible data?
  • an OPINION. Is this something you believe to be true or have a strong feeling about? Is this a value of yours?
  • or a GUESS. Is this something you aren’t sure is true but could, and probably should, be true?
 
Next time you are in a meeting apply the FOG test. You may be surprised to find the extent to which opinions and guesses masquerade as facts. Spending the time and effort to identify and use accurate information on the front-end can save disastrous action on the backend.  
DEV / DIALOGUE / TOOLS / Jul 6, 2011, 8:03pm / Comments (33)
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