Leadership Insights from Meryl Streep
Cheryl observes: In Meryl Streep’s recent interview about her role as Julia Childs in the movie, “Julie and Julia” I found something she said very intriguing “…we’re all sustained by relationships. Sometimes it’s by marriages, great friendships, by a sustaining relationship to a parent. But that’s the glue of society; it’s very home-centered and very simple.” After I read this, I thought to myself, so true and not so simple to have the kinds of relationships at work that we could honestly classify them as fulfilling, energizing, and joyful. I can’t even count how many people I’ve heard lately lament how much they hate their jobs followed shortly by “but at least I have one.” In one of my favorite small and yet profoundly wise leadership books, Creating a Culture of Success, by Charles B. Dygert and Richard A. Jacobs, they write “It is not work that tires people out; it is frustration. And frustration is generally introduced by the boss, the system, the policies, or the work environment.” When I think what makes me crazy about work, I find these guys have nailed it! As the recession fades, my question for today’s leaders is “What’s the quality of the relationships in your environment?” After all, Meryl is right. We are all sustained by relationships.
Sara adds: I would push Cheryl’s questions a little further. “WHERE are your relationships?” Clint Swindall in Engaged Leadership talks about why employees are disengaged (those are some of the frustrated folk Cheryl referred to). “There may be several reasons, but perhaps the most significant is that most leaders are spending more time managing tasks and not nearly enough time leading people. If you don’t believe that observation, just spend one day without your cell phone, PDA or email. You’ll find out quickly how much of your “hectic day” is spent managing the business and putting out fires and not leading the people on your team.” So where are your relationships…with people or with spreadsheets? A leader has to focus on both – which get more of your time…managing the business or leading the people? And when the economy turns around and there are more jobs available, will your human assets stay or leave?
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