Posts Tagged ‘global leadership’

A Bank for White People

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Who doesn’t buy your product, who doesn’t participate in your meetings, who doesn’t use your services? You may drive away diverse customers or consumers without even knowing it, because we can all be clueless to those different from us.  An agency of government, a company, or a non-profit can all be like the Bank For White People in a multicultural world.  See how easy it is to be clueless to your lifeblood –  your consumers – in this video clip:

Ask who is walking or wheeling in your door – and who is not?  Do you really know how different groups see your business or agency?  Make diversity valuable to you.  Find out how – OR IF – groups who differ by nationality, religion, ability, race, region, sexual orientation, education, gender, military/civilian, and on and on see your organization.  As the video shows, they may peg you, and you may be totally clueless as to why they are not walking in your door, website, community, or park.

Global Impact #1 – Is Max Stier Crazy? Countering the Drift

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Ever wonder why so much of what we see and hear drifts toward the negative? 

Conversations.  News coverage.  Even the fact that many of us fend off compliments, explaining away our goodness.

Thank goodness Max Stier stood up to negativity.  And “thanking goodness” is exactly what Max did in a recent editorial in the Washington Post. 

Max Stier is President of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.   From Pew Research polls to reports about SEC workers watching porn to dismal ratings of Congress and even to Saturday Night Live skewering public sector employees, there is evidence out there about the public’s distrust of and cynicism about the federal government.  But Max begs to differ, and in his essay, “The federal government’s quiet heroes,” he cites several examples of “the routine successes, innovative initiatives, cutting edge science, and other amazing work being done behind the scenes” by our government workers in Haitian relief, intelligence gathering, global warming, health care fraud, and aviation safety.  Not a bad start, Max.

What impresses me most about Max’s editorial is that it counters the drift.  Think about it.  Have you ever joined in about how awful “the government” is?  In the DC area, it’s a great and varied sport – we can lampoon the Feds, our state, or, a real favorite target, the DC government.  (I’ve tried to counter that last one over the years by citing the most efficient government agency on the planet, the DC parking officers.  These folks stand tall amidst their well-maligned brethren by being the best at finding you over your meter or, if you dare, parking illegally while you “run in” to pick up something.  Don’t try it.)

One thing good global leaders do is to counter the drift.  When I speak of “global” leaders, I mean people who scale up their influence – and not just overseas.  People who have impact beyond their small store or their lone department in an agency.  

Do you tire of discussions that are so predictable and easy that they don’t really require real thought and evidence?  One of those is the knee-jerk tendency to tear down government.  If Mr. Stier were in that conversation, he’d speak up, and I wonder if we all might think he’s crazy, so accepted is the notion that government = lazy/inefficient/bureaucratic.   But then he’d tell us about Pius Bannis, a U.S. immigration officer in Haiti, who, in 20-hour days, 7 days/week, helped hundreds of orphans find safety, set up a makeshift day-care center, and even drove kids to the airport for evacuation purposes.

Max’s stance, to me, has “global” impact.  He stands in the face of accepted wisdom and gently tells us we might be clueless to the goodness.  He asks us to look beyond sound bites, cliche, and plain old conversational comfort.  He asks us to look deeper, to think, to question stereotypes, and to acknowledge our unsung heroes, where, yes, as the highway signs in New Jersey used to say, “Your tax dollars at work.”

Thank goodness, and thanks Max.

Who do you know who is doing great work in government?

Welcome to the Discovery Newsletter

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

A new quarterly publication of Tom Finn Associates, Inc.

We’re offering articles, commentary, and resources for global leaders.  We’re in a global, 24/7 marketplace. What’s your capacity for pressure and cultural nuance?

We believe everybody’s a global leader today, and we think handling pressure and cultural challenge are the keys to being a good global leader.  If you are trying to lead anything today, whether personally or professionally, you’re likely to do so under pressure and fast pace, and you’re likely to need diverse customers and colleagues on board.

The Discovery newsletter and blog will provide clues to your potential in a global, diverse market. You’ll find commentary and resources directed at expanding YOU – increasing your influence in situations of chaos and your results in multicultural settings. You’ll see a theme: tapping the cultural, ancestral, and personal strengths already within you for greater impact.

Our newsletter will cover common questions and challenges raised by you and my customers – for example, a stellar leader who gets results but blows a gasket under pressure.

Our blog will tap into more current stories of the day that highlight our goal:  learning how to be the best global leader I can be, whether I am a manager with a workforce like the United Nations or a parent in a diverse neighborhood.  For example, maybe the arrest of Henry Louis Gates in the summer of 2009 has something to teach us all…

Explore…Expand…Evolve…Exchange…and have fun with us.


Leadership From Within

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An Economist is Painting My House

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

What if you kept finding those quarters on the street, or kept winning those door prize contests?  Not once, but it kept happening.  Wouldn’t it be great to keep finding treasure?

I keep finding talent – unused talent.  In one more personal news flash that I’m not sure is clamoring out to anyone else but me, another highly qualified immigrant is “making it” by popping up in a place where those qualifications are underutilized and hidden.  A Peruvian economist and his systems engineer brother are painting and repairing my house.

And people just like them may be in your workplace.

Add Victor and Cesar to the Salvadoran business trainer sweeping the gym floor, the former deputy police chief landscaping a neighbor’s yard, the South American phlebotomist working at Staples, the Indian computer specialist selling women’s clothes, and the Guatemalan janitor at one of our most prestigious universities who had a business and managed people in his country.

Is anybody else noticing this phenomenon?  That is, that there are highly educated and trained people right under our noses who could contribute a whole lot more to our bottom lines and missions.

Are We Clueless?

I think we might be, but the bigger question is:  what could our businesses and agencies gain if we “clued in”?

Talent. We did focus groups at that hot shot university, and the janitor impressed me as much or more than the department heads.  His demeanor was perfect for someone who could lead and manage well – calm, strategic, and positive.  One of his ideas:  the university should inventory everyone’s skills – including the janitors – to find out the gold they had in a workforce they were already paying.  Not a bad idea in a down economy when you can’t afford to hire.

More and Better Ideas. The advantages of diversity for idea generation and results have been proven.* These folks bring us fresh perspective from having led people or solved complex problems in other countries.  And they’ve got a direct connection to their countrymen who are a growing segment of our employees and customers!

Unexpected Help. You might start talking to the people making salads in your restaurant, the janitors in your building, the tellers, the landscapers.  Think about it:  how does the role they are in influence how you approach these folks?  I’m finding some very bright folks –  better said wise folks –  pushing a broom.

We’re in a multicultural world – whether you’re in Dubuque or Dubai.  If your business is slow, or your ideas are stale, why not take a look around – right under your nose.  Do you have some leaders or some creative thoughts among employees whose talents are perhaps hidden by their roles or their language difference?

I can’t help thinking you might.  I’m meeting these folks all the time.

Let me know what happens.



*See the book The Difference, by Scott Page