As the New Year is now entering the end of the 1st Quarter, the pace of work is picking up – both as the crisis appears to be receding, but also a normal part of each year. Budget’s being finalized, and most of the year-end Performance Reviews completed, businesses and leaders are now making decisions on where to focus. What projects need to be accelerated, those that may need to be slowed, and staffing that needs to shift. Simultaneously, employees are engaged in the same decisions – is this really the place for them now… or? And key to both is … Values.
I am engaging with a number of leaders now that are in that discussion – what they want to achieve, and how will this year be different. A couple have made it through the Performance Cycle after a scare in the fall… and a couple changed jobs and are now trying to assess if this new engagement will work well. And there are a number in the middle that are… in the middle. It could be a better year, or not. And all are looking for insights on how to best apply their energy as the pace accelerates.
I have always enjoyed jazz – while my work is mostly in words and language, there is something about them being missing that makes the music different to engage with. Without lyrics, there is often authenticity as the players come together, particularly in the groups that make it into our consideration. The best bring out the best in each other, as each can count on them to engage their portion of the song. You can see it when you watch them – the Value of playing together is that they count on each other, as they all know where they are going.
One of the most influential fusion groups came from a series of engagements through the late ’60s and early 70’s that we have talked about before. From Art Blakey’s incubator, through Miles Davis’ quintet and finally putting it together in the seminal Bitches Brew in 1971 the founders of this group had played off and on together. Now after completing that album, they wanted to continue to hone their sound, and they Valued the differences they all brought to the new world of Fusion Jazz. Individually they were all great, but together, they would eventually produce one of the finest albums of the late ’70s.
Leadership is a lot like Jazz I think – what is said is often not nearly as important as what leaders do. Your team is looking more at how your Values are demonstrated – is it aligned with what you are saying. “Authenticity” is something that can often be faked for a bit, but eventually followers and leaders will start to understand what is really Valued by both, and engagement follows. Remember that the number one determinant of retention is the relationship with leadership – both directions.
As the pace picks up for this year, how will you engage your Values – not what you think they should be, or even what your organizations say they are. What is it that you actually believe now… and how is that showing up in the work you are engaged in? It is often a journey of understanding, and one that I think would be interesting to consider this week. The music will be amazing, and give us a great sonic highway to travel. And as I do every day, I have checked – the Weather Report looks great today. But it is always good to take something along in case….from their first album, Umbrellas.