Companies whose culture is not flexible enough to create alignment of personal purpose with that of the people they work with will perish.
Oprah Winfrey has long believed in community; now she’s leading a global community. She always knew that being connected makes life easier, placing high value and trust in her friends like Gayle King. They and others built Oprah’s business empire together. Now Oprah’s sharing a secret she’s found recently that helps her to more easily maintain weight loss.
She’s not doing it alone. Weight Watchers helped, but her family and friends helped more.
Friends and family aligned with her – not just in support, but in every day practice. Steadman, has supported Oprah through years of very public weight gain and loss. Recently, though, he has also joined Weight Watchers International. He is counting points, too.
Oprah noticed the difference for her when he engaged fully with the program.
“Attagirls” certainly helped but counting points together made it easy. Oprah shared in a recent interview that their shared experience reminded her of what she always knew.
A committed group can do more together than a determined individual can do alone. Oprah believes this so strongly that she has partnered with Weight Watchers to launch a new campaign. Members lose weight with friends and family. In fact, Oprah recently joined the audioconference of an Oklahoma women’s Weight Watchers group. I imagine they were motivated that day!
Says Jim Chambers, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International, “Through our conversations, it became clear that there is tremendous alignment between Oprah’s intention and our mission. We believe that her remarkable ability to connect and inspire people to realize their full potential is uniquely complementary to our powerful community, extraordinary coaches and proven approach.”
Like Oprah, I’ve always believed we can do more together than any of us can alone. I know it’s true for me. Because of my busy life and where I live, I reach out virtually for support. For example, I failed for years to remove certain food groups from my diet. In December, 2014, I begged a dear friend to be my virtual partner in a total detox. From 100 miles away (with a couple road trips to cook together and a Dropbox shared recipe folder), we did it! I lost 20 pounds in three weeks, and 18 months later I’ve maintained permanent change.
I literally could not do it alone, even though I was actually alone 98% of the time.
Professional careers are the same. If we’re virtual team members, even more so. Doing work together makes a difference, even if we do it in different places. I enjoy working with a team and I need to work alone…. I’ve been self-employed and working mostly out of a home office for well over 30 years. My business partners, when I have them, are always virtual. Clients are, by nature and planning, temporary.
I may seem to contradict myself when I say I enjoy teamwork with that work environment history. However…
I establish swift trust and maintain strong relationships with a network of trusted clients, colleagues and friends. I’ve done this for decades. (Can I just express my gratitude for how much easier technology makes this today?) As a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) business owner, I’ve depended on my professional friends in ways full-time employees often find in their employer organization and professional association.
I’m not just an extrovert who needs people socially. I need my peeps to help me see my blind spots, find quality resources, join me on teams when our competencies work well together for a client… And I need to be there for them, too. I enjoy being a connector and resource myself. Mutual relationships make me more complete and fulfilled – personally and professionally.
My network has many kinds of people in it – it grows and adjusts with me. I have a highly trusted support system of advisors, former students, team mates, bosses and clients, peers and fellow learners. I have a known pool of talent when I build project teams, and access to trusted recruiting firms when needed. Most important, my friends believe in me when I forget why I should believe in myself.
So too, teams are more powerful when members know, respect, trust and support one another. They remember they are part of a network that depends on each other. A successful team makes and keeps commitments. Team members tell the truth. They support one another’s goals personally. They have opinions about each other (we’re human). They hold one another accountable, while assuming positive intent. People are honest when they need to adjust a team commitment. Everyone cooperates and adjusts as team requirements allow.
Authentic team respect shows in team results, assuming everyone is competent. These teams become small communities of production in a network of teams.
What makes Oprah and the Weight Watcher partnership work is the same fuel that makes high performance teams work – they are aligned around a shared purpose and common goals. Everyone has to do their own work, and they commit to do it with each other. Motivation is built-in. So is support and accountability. Results show.
Of course support groups and learning teams have been around for a while. LinkedIn Groups are an example of virtual professional communities that most of us include as part of our professional network outreach. Face-to-face community support is also available. I used to peer-lead a monthly management consultant case consultation group. My partners, a few colleagues and I created a forum when we were doing profoundly strategic work in organizations. We wanted qualified input to raise the quality of service we could provide. As a fairly young professional, I wanted trustworthy advice to make sure I did no harm to my clients. Even when I was sure how to proceed, I sought their expertise in case I missed something. I quickly learned peer advice is a very powerful process and fast track to mastery. Vistage and The Alternative Board are business models based on peer advice. It works.
Few of us find all the expert support we need on our team or in our organizations. Begin to thoughtfully develop and expand your trusted peer support team, if you haven’t already.
Maybe you’re wondering how…
To start, be a committed team member yourself. As you traverse career, teams, jobs and organizations, commit to the task and the team members. Expand relationships with people you want to become part of your long-term network.
Here are 3 tips that will help you find colleagues who could become members of your professional support team:
1. Find interests that motivate both of you. To do this, you have to know yourself. Know what work you’re good, enjoy, want to learn. Know what kinds of people you work best with, who pushes you to your personal best, even while they don’t always agree with you. Notice what kinds of organization mission or project purpose inspire you. If you’re already on a team, do you enjoy the work itself? Confirm alignment with your teammates about team task, communication, workflow and relationship. Learn about your teammates, even if it’s just about the kids.
Once you know yourself and what motivates you, reach out and find people who motivate and inspire you.
2. Be real. Engage people authentically. Stay in touch and take time to continuously get to know each other. Learn about differences between you; they are always there. Difference brings variety to life and adds perspective to conversations. Explore shared interests that brought you together in the first place. At work, partner with teammates based on strength and passion when you can. Teaming to strength and passion is a powerful way to up team production – everyone gets to be their ‘real’ best.
3. Support each other. Be trustworthy. Follow through on commitments. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Anticipate when a teammate needs you. Offer before being asked. Bob Burg teaches how to be Go-Givers. Simply put, seek first to help others. Be generous. Don’t be a Go-Getter. Go-getters build networks to leverage people’s networks. They don’t care to really know people or have authentic relationships. Go-Givers don’t expect people to help them first. How do you treat your network? Are you a Go-Giver or a Go-Getter?
Three simple relationship commitments will help you be a better team member, leader and influencer. Go find or reconnect with aligned folks. Feel the power of your global network.
Last week Charlie talked about Making Your NetWork. I’m a hard core advocate, teacher and practitioner of digital and local networking. My commitment to my network goes deep and long. When Charlie and I were talking about how much more critical our professional networks are today than they were 20 years ago. (He and I met online in one of the very first conferences hosted 100% online.) Our conversation reminded me of my professional friendship with Rosie Aguilar that I celebrate each year on May 6. It is our “meet up anniversary.”
I talk about expanding emotional bandwidth in relationships, which always reminds me of my friendship with Rosie. She and I navigated some exciting, challenging, high risk waters for awhile. We were part of a company co-launch, co-facilitated 100% virtual strategic planning with global clients, fed our passion for art and fine crafts by participating together in a local arts district. I’ve worked for Rosie as a trainer for her volunteer organization, and she’s worked for me as a research assistant and co-facilitator.
We can count on our fingers and toes the numbers of times we’ve been in each other’s physical presence. That distance has created no boundary to our deeply trusting and respectful professional friendship, however.
My friend successfully transitioned her life and her career, and has been on the fast career track ever since. Rosie’s happier today than I’ve ever known her, so I asked if she would share her story. It brings to life how powerful (and fun) Making Your Net-Work can be for professionals who make the commitment to better leverage their networks.
– Trina Hoefling, Transformational Facilitator and Trainer, Co-Founder, The Smart Workplace
Here’s Rosie’s Story, In Her Words….
In September 2009, I was taking the last two of my graduate classes at Walden University, a 100% online graduate program. My course, Dynamics of Contemporary, International, and Virtual Organizations, required Trina’s 2000 book release, Working Virtually: Managing Organizations and People for Virtual Success.
BAM! I was hooked on everything and anything having to do with virtual work, technology, social media, virtual management, virtual organizations – you get the idea. I do not do any type of work without accessing social media and the internet. To work without the collaboration technology tools would be like working without electricity for me.
Back to my story.
Using collaboration technologies, I found Trina on LinkedIn.com and found more information about her professional accomplishments. I also looked at her connections and discovered that she lived in Denver at the time, and that we were both members of the same local business group, TiE Rockies. I invited her to connect. Since then, we have worked together virtually and F2F, played together, and remained friends through numerous changes in both our lives, all thanks to our ability to connect virtually.
Where am I going with this story, you ask?
How did I transition to a new field of work in a new state while working nights and going to school full-time as a wife and mother of three?
I successfully transformed my career through using social media to learn and to make quality connections, like the one I have with Trina. I graduated from an online graduate program while still raising rambunctious children and supporting a veteran husband having transitions of his own. I knew I needed to move my family’s life forward, but was limited in how I could learn and get the real life experience I needed.
Collaboration technologies and social media platforms were my enablers.
I used social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to make working with and learning from Trina possible. Well that’s not the whole how-you-do-it part, but collaborating and connecting virtually through social media was still key. It was key then and it is key now. I was able to connect with Trina, learning what was pertinent at that time. And I still learn and connect this way today, through Google search and its child, social media champion, YouTube. There is nothing that can not be learned there.
Virtual work and virtual teams aren’t just for telecommuting anymore. Trina and her expert colleagues are hosting this blog as a place for you to expand your virtual competencies for a more successful work world and life. Take her up on the invitation.
Tech Ops Project Manager, NGL Energy Partners
Trina’s Parting Advice This Week – Make Your Net-Work
Remember to include your social network in your development plan. You can thoughtfully design, develop and manage your network authentically when you
Commit to the people in your network.
Look for ways to support them.
Keep up with them and their careers, asking for wisdom to broaden yours.
Your network is an asset to leverage, and a soul nourishing part of your professional life. It’s a critical part of a SMART career.
If you are curious about how your own personal social network is working to help you accomplish your goals, here are a few easy questions to get you started.
In the past six months, how many times have you called on your network to:
______ Find or follow a lead
______ Give or ask for emotional support
______ Help another friend access a resource
______ Access information you need
______ Get an opinion about a product or service
How often do your friends reach out to you for help?
______ Once in awhile
Do your colleagues you have added to your network come from inside and outside your organization? Your profession?
What percentage of your active professional relationships are fulfilling?
Do you have a balance loose and tight relationships – people who know you well, and some you admire or have met, but don’t know well enough to call colleagues?
What do people in your professional network say about you?
If you want to learn more,
Start by going to The SMART Workplace and sign up to join our SMART community.
Check out our knowledge resources while you’re on our site.
Or reach out to Trina, Charlie and Kathy at The Smart Workplace or join us for open Happy Hour Chats, facilitated online Lunch Discussions and learning webinars. Let us know what you’re interested in so we can schedule your topic! Want to know more about how to Make Your NetWork?