In the past couple of weeks, I’d blogged about a conference I attended. The beginning keynote speech was entitled “The Power of Being… A New Breed of Leader.” The speaker, Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel, has consulted with several US Presidents on leadership and our conference was fortunate to have this high-profile speaker (among others).

One of her exercises required us all to fill in this statement:  “My personal vision/mission as a leader________________ .”

So, think about this for a moment. How would you answer this? First of all, you need to ask yourself whether you have any leadership roles in your job. Before you say, “No, I have no leadership roles in my laboratory informatics job,” think about it. Many people do have certain areas where they influence and lead others in their job, even if they are not managers. It might be in a small way but, small or not, leadership is leadership.

If you are leading people in any way at all, go back and think about that sentence. In case you wondered, here was my answer that I wrote down in the five minutes the speaker gave us to think about this:  “My personal vision/mission as a leader is to inspire others to build/implement/create the best strategy/system possible in a way that then, in turn, inspires me back, so that we have a synergy of inspiration going on between us.”

Notice that I said “others” not “customers.” I recognize that I sometimes work on projects with other consultants, for example, not just customers. If we are all to work together as a team on the large projects, we must recognize this. Also, learning the technology is the easy part. What’s hard is bringing something extra to the table. Unless we’re talking about the low-level tasks, these days, everyone on a project almost has to be bringing something extra to the project. As a consultant, I recognize that I cannot compete in the marketplace without bringing something more than just experience and skills to the table. Every consultant should be expected to be adding value to a project. High-level consultants must be thought leaders. Most consultants must plan to bring some leadership skills in their toolkit. But even company employees must plan to think in this manner in these competitive times, as well. As companies go leaner or as you consider moving onto other things in your career, you will find this a good mindset to have.

Are you looking for a little inspiration in this? If so, I find that getting the Napolean Hill Thought of the Day helps me stay inspired on those days when the project isn’t going as well as I’d like or people are challenging me beyond what I think I can manage. Here’s the link to the Napolean Hill web-site and you’ll see the link to the e-mail thought-of-the-day on the left-hand-side:         http://www.naphill.org/

There’s much talk about how no-one participates, anymore. We talk both at the project level and the industry level about how to “engage” people because it appears to be the impossible task.

For example, I’d posted a quick survey on conferences here awhile back (https://outonalims.com/2009/11/02/the-laboratory-informatics-conferences-attendance-poll/). While I see that people occasionally view the results, they don’t bother to take the poll while they’re looking at it. It’s possible most of them aren’t going to a conference to have anything to put into the poll, but unlikely that NONE of them are going to. So, people appear to be bent on lurking rather than participating. They will read things but not act on them.

For another example, there are some customers I’ve had where I’ll send people documents for review and I never hear back from them. When I contact them, it turns out they did review the document, but didn’t think to respond that they found the document acceptable and that it can move to its next stage, even when my message asks them to do that.

So, are we getting worse as we get busier? Well, I doubt it. This is something we’ve been complaining about for as long as I can remember. It’s the whole society-is-going-downhill and it’s-not-like-the-good-old-days stuff. I think this is just an ongoing challenge.

But then, isn’t Web 2.0 supposed to fix this? After all, with Web 2.0, we don’t just get information pushed to us – we create it – we’re empowered to drive the content. Okay, well, here’s a reality check – just because we’re empowered to do it doesn’t mean that we will. In fact, I was reading statistics on the participation in any type of group, on-line or in-person, LinkedIn or your corporate site, and the statistics on participation were extremely low. Most people are and will remain lurkers who read what comes out and never pipe-up with a thought or comment. There are some that don’t participate, at all, where they join and don’t even pay attention to the meetings or content.

So, whether you’re running a professional group, an on-line discussion group, and whether it’s public or private, you’ve got your work cut out for you to get people engaged in it. I will tell you that that is the number one challenge I face with the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group that I’m working with. Even within the corporations, time-and-time, again, people tell me they’ve created a great networking tool for the organization to share information and then no-one uses it.

Bottom line: It’s hard to get people engaged and involved. You have to develop a plan. Part of that plan should be that you’re planning it will be harder than you thought it would be.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

Do you agree? Disagree? Have something to Add? Here's your chance - make a comment!