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Add value to organization through action, not talk

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Cy Wakeman shook complacency from attendees during a recent leadership training session: It's you who needs to change — not your bosses and co-workers who aren't here.

Her message induced squirms. Many conscientious workers are religious about going to seminars, learning how to do better and then smugly talking about the other people who should have been there. Wakeman's wake-up call was for self-examination.

The leadership consultant and author said absolutely nothing, and especially not your happiness, is served by moaning or blaming your organization, your bosses or colleagues who don't pull their weight.

You need to succeed despite staff and budget cuts, despite task interruptions, despite office remodeling and other environmental irritations, Wakeman said at the annual Leadership Lyceum sponsored by Kansas City's Central Exchange.

“You can't make reality go away,” she said. “You need to change your mind-set. Accept reality. Do not give away power to your circumstances.”

Circumstances include changes in social media use, new technology or physical space. If those changes are painful, understand what the pain is telling you. It says you're not keeping up.

Wakeman particularly aimed her comments at anyone over 30. It doesn't matter what your past accomplishments have been, she warned. It matters that you continue to deliver results, to add value to the organization's bottom line.

Even more important than technical competency, she proselytized, is emotional maturity. Any “drama” you add to your workplace subtracts big time from your value. Don't tattle or complain. Don't act the victim. Always ask what you can do to help. Remember that action, not opinion, adds value.

Most of all, “Say yes to what's next,” she urged. “Don't resist it. See change as an opportunity.”

Diane Stafford is a writer for The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.). She can be reached at 816-234-4359 or stafford@kcstar.com.

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