Thoughts and colourful examples to help and improve your workplace
You dear, regular readers will know that each week I strive to paint you a captivating professional portrait of career confidence and company culture worthy of Renaissance masters like Caravaggio or Vasari.
Carefully choosing the finest words like paints, I aim to illustrate and illuminate your work lives with exquisitely blended and expertly shaded colours of tips and techniques, approaches and applications.
But sometimes, just sometimes, folks, I careen into column-writing like Jackson Pollack with a wooden stick or Hunter S Thompson with a shotgun, dripping and blasting my words like an abstract array of acrylics splattered wantonly across the canvas. Today is such a splash of a column as I present for you a surreal swirl of thoughts, experiences and takeaways over the past several days.
Appreciate the other humans in your team
Our journey begins in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. It is day two of US President Joe Biden’s much heralded tour of Ireland.
I am on a bus chartered for journalists covering the historic visit. And although I had spent years in my past life as a Washington-based CNN correspondent playing the hurry-up-and-wait game required when providing live reports on big events, this was my first time donning the figurative journalistic hat back in the field.
Turns out our destination literally was a field.
“The live-shot location will be at ‘the moat’,” someone said as I descended the bus alongside RTÉ presenter Sharon Tobin and several members of her news crew tech team.
I looked across the street from the bus and sure enough, past an expanse of meadow-like grass, stretched a shallow ditch surrounding a short cement wall in front of the home of Irish President Michael D. Higgins known as the Áras an Uachtaráin.
As I was mentally rehearsing how to pronounce that mouthful of gaeilge, I overheard Sharon offer to help her crew carry some of the live-shot gear from the belly of the bus to our field.
It was a kind, respectful and team-building gesture and although the guys didn’t take her up on it, I was still impressed.
Back during my own live-shot days, you learned early on there were two-types of reporters – or “talent” as they’re often called. Those who considered themselves a regular member of the team and those who pretty much considered themselves separate, or let’s face it, above everyone else.
The divas (women or men) acted as if the team was simply there to make them look good. I remember the stories.
Of the reporters who never lifted a finger to help carry gear. Of the reporters who demanded their producer take time off from site support to search for special food on live-shot locales. The reporters who never bothered to learn new crew members’ names.
The other side of the coin were those reporters who understood that each person was part of one team; all there to work together to try and make the best news reports as possible.
Sharon was clearly on that side of the coin.
It was a long day. We stood around in the wind for several hours to add a few minutes of live commentary. But in between live-shots, we had great chats with the wonderful team members.
No matter who you are or where you work, the right thing to do is to actively appreciate your other team members.
Keep it fun
My next memorable moment is in the studio with RTÉ legend Miriam O’Callaghan. Two other commentators and I are flanking the award-winning broadcaster in preparation of Biden delivering his final speech to the adoring crowd in Ballina. Between our relatively brief moments of observation, we are sitting there together for three hours.
Not for one second, did Miriam exhibit any flicker of boredom, frustration or annoyance. She kept the mood for ourselves and the crew in the control room upbeat and light-hearted. This, folks, is not always the case. I’ve seen plenty of people in similar situations revert to sarcasm or snark. Miriam’s leadership communications style was consistently and pleasantly class. Remember, your words and demeanour are yours to choose. Leaders set the tone.
Take a brief moment to make a big difference
I hope you understand how these two short examples can make a big impact. Our personal and professional leadership and team-building brand, style or reputation is not built only when we are purposefully performing or consciously behaving.
People are always watching. How aware are you about your “default style”? Ask others. Be open to receiving feedback. Once you have heightened your awareness, resolve to replicate behaviours that are encouraging and begin to work on modifying those that are not. It takes effort to change. But it’s worth it.
Speaking of effort, my birthday was this past week. I want to thank each of you who took a moment to send me a happy message. I appreciate your effort. It absolutely makes a difference. Finally, as my wonderful grandpa, who painted pictures with words, used to say, “I always enjoy celebrating another birthday, because it’s so much better than the alternative.”
Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie
With corporate clients in six continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor. @TheGinaLondon