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BE Open - Retaining Top Talent

“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are” – Max Depree

As we continue the series on retaining top talent during tumultuous times (, I began reflecting on leadership training I conducted with over 300 district leaders where I stood in front of them with my arms wide open. I asked each participant to do the same and then asked them to consider the feelings and emotions that accompanied this position. Some of the comments were freedom, free, open, liberated, weightless, unrestricted, and so forth.

The purpose of the exercise was to illustrate that most of the time, as leaders, we are walking around with our arms folded, not allowing anything in, or letting go. If we want to reach our full potential and have stronger connections with others, we must “BE Open”.

Being open requires us to take two actions – allowing something in and letting something go --just like the air we breathe. Imagine how long we would survive if we only inhaled or exhaled, a whole life requires we do both.

Connections work in the same way – there is a natural flow between giving and receiving. So, I am always amazed when a leader would ask “why are we having a difficult time retaining our talent” and my response (two-way), “what are reasons that would want to stay?”

I spent a lot of time in the first two blogs talking about mission and alignment. Being Open allows us to measure our truth on how committed we are to our mission. It’s one thing to say where we are going (vision) and how we will get there (values), but to truly be open to how we are being perceived, is where we have to remain open to how we are perceived.

One opportunity I’ve observed for districts and organizations that we’ve worked with over the years, is to get alignment from each campus and department team on who we are and where we’re going. Everything we say during our district onboarding should be echoed by our campus and department onboardings.

When we decentralize our mission and values, we marginalize our ability to be great.

In the book, Winning, Jack Welch states that setting the mission is top management’s responsibility by Jack Welch, he states that “A mission cannot be delegated to anyone except the people ultimately held accountable for it.”

Be open to your stakeholder’s feedback and be willing to make the necessary changes to meet their expectations and be courageous in communicating where there are gaps. Doing so, will strengthen your connections while ensuring a sense of safety. Thus, minimizing the need for your top talent to look somewhere else.

Be Open

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