I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter

The conversational thread following my post last week on Email as a Reflective Practice led me to a fantastic post from Germane Consulting group, Dear Leader:  Do We Have a Deal?

They imagine a letter written by an employee to a CEO, looking for all they need spiritually and developmentally from the relationship.

Here are a  few key points from the letter in the Germane post:

  • Trust me to do the things you brought me here to do, and then some.
  • Know, I mean really know in your heart and mind, I am a rich (not in dollars) human being with a multidimensional life, and please take that into account
  • Time and space to play with others, because that’s another way I learn and come up with really good ideas

What if my employees wrote me such a letter?  What would it say?

Asking folks to write such a letter would be a fantastic way to start a new job… both as reflection for the team, but as vital input to set the cultural stage and norms.

I may just do that in my next role.

But what can I do now?   I just did an open-ended employee survey (and received lots of great candid insights), and I have my team doing the “mid year, end of year letter” I talked about in the Email as Reflective Practice post.  So asking my team for more writing at this stage of the game, is not in the cards.

So, as a reflective practice, I am writing myself a letter.  A composite of the hopes and asks I have heard from my teams over the years.  An aspirational list I use to guide my actions… sometimes more effectively than others. Not yet written down until this rainy Saturday afternoon.

A Letter To Myself

Dear Karin,

Here are the things we need most from you as a leader.

  • Establish a trusted place at the table–the more credibility you have at the senior levels, the more you can advocate for what we need to accomplish.
  • Say the tough things that need to be said– nudge us to do that too.
  • Be transparent about what is going on–trust us with the real story.
  • Help us understand how you think and process, let us in your head.
  • Build a strong and diverse team–let us hash out our differences without getting involved.
  • Care deeply about our careers and help us to grow– continue to support us after you have moved to the next role.
  • Encourage us to take risks– be gentle when we fail.
  • Tell us when you screw up– maybe we can avoid the same landmines.
  • Give us direct and candid feedback (but sugar coat it a bit more than you sometimes do).
  • Come to the field with us, roll up your sleeves and get involved, that’s how you will learn.
  • But, don’t get too involved, we’ve got this.
  • Let us use your energy strategically, in recognition and in large events.
  • Role model work-life balance– be interested in, and support us in our outside lives
“I am grateful for all the teaching my teams have done through the years to guide my development as a leader.”

Namaste.
Karin

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

10 Comments

  1. Many of the points on your list are in my favorite leadership book “The Leadership Challenge.” I deliver workshops based on the model.

    I love the “we got this” point. I’ve always said leaders lead too much, parents parent too much, and salespeople sell too much. Less is more.

  2. Karin – Thank you for this lovely reference to my post at Germane Consulting. Those who work for you in your corporate role, are very fortunate. In you bio, you refer to yourself as “by day” and “all of the time”. It is a clear message that we do not split ourselves between the two but integrate all of who we are in what we do, and vice versa. Great message and a wonderful way to live life fully.

  3. Thought provoking post. Makes me think of how each of us is our own constant boss. Constantly reprimanding and advising and encouraging myself. It would be wise to write myself a letter about how I’d like to be treated.

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  8. A nice idea karin. Of course you have to be careful that you are actually capturing their views in the letter rather than what you would like them to say. But this kind of exercise can really focus you and synthesize all the different feedback you heard into a positive statement. I’m going to try it now!!

    • Andy, great to see you here. You are absolutely right on…. lots of tricky stuff here and opportunity for self-deception. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

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