MLK Day 2021 – A Day On; Not a Day Off

Can you believe it is 2021 and our nation is still dealing with the pandemic and social justice for equality of people?  It is just the first month of the year and so much has already happened.  Now more than ever our nation deserves a day of calmness, civility and peace.  We need “A Day of Service” for every American. In honor of the late Civil Rights leader’s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his life and legacy, join FEW as we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday or MLK Day.  We honor his commitment to justice, equality and inclusion.  His life exemplifies how we should conduct ourselves in a world of discourse and disagreements, how we should reflect on the best of ourselves through a worthy and healthy life of purpose.  

MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as “a national day of service” to encourage all us to volunteer to improve our communities.  We believe it is time to begin the work of service for the good of others as we are united in making MLK Day “a day on, not a day off.” 

Although this year is unlike any other; FEW still want you to know that your safety is our priority and due to the COVID-19, FEW National would like to join forces and give the gift of training and education to our fellow members this year.  In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. our goal is to support his belief in education through donating to the FEW Foundation.  We want to demonstrate intelligence plus character.  As Dr. King has stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  So, just like him, let’s honor him by ensuring we do all what we can to educate and build strong character by making a small investment to the FEW Foundation.  It doesn’t matter the amount and all donations are tax-deductible. We all can easily donate to this worthy cause by visiting www.fewfoundation.org.

Not only will you help members, but you can drive out darkness.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why Kind Leaders Float to the Top

Integrity. Honesty. Vision. Humility. Focus. Those are some of the qualities you are likely to associate with a strong leader.

However, kindness probably isn’t one of the traits that comes to mind.

Historically, kindness in the business world has been regarded as a weakness. But that is no longer the case. In fact, scientific studies indicate that the most effective way to lead is to treat others with kindness. Organizations that value kindness actually experience considerable and measurable benefits such as less turnover, lower recruitment costs, higher productivity and happier employees.

However, being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you are a manger or head of a department or company. There are several ways you can lead in the workplace—by spearheading a project, running a meeting, presenting a new idea or managing a team. That’s why FEW offers a comprehensive program that positions members for professional development and a fulfilling career in the federal workforce.

Kindness has traditionally been one of the most overlooked leadership qualities. Kind leaders don’t force others to follow, rather their good intentions motivate others to follow their lead, creating a strong team. They exude warmth and compassion and recognize that without their team there is no real leadership. Strong leaders are very capable of making difficult business decisions but do so with compassion and sincerity.

Successful leaders share similar qualities. They have clarity and purpose and are determined to encourage others in service to support a cause or goal, influencing and empowering others through their actions and behaviors. They facilitate dialogue and make things happen. They are top-notch communicators who express their expectations and are accountable for their actions. Above all, they lead by example and do so with kindness and a positive attitude. Kind leaders guide others in a positive way, finding common ground and building cohesiveness among team members.

In the workplace, kindness is expressed through compassion, understanding, patience and generosity. In turn, being kind creates a ripple effect, inspiring employees to do more while also building their confidence and commitment to the organization’s mission.

There is strength in kindness and that is why kind leaders float to the top. Being a kind leader is the next innovation in people-led leadership. Kindness is now being recognized as essential to success. Kind leaders are strong leaders. They set clear expectations, promote growth, exude authenticity, provide honest feedback and, most importantly, treat people like people.

One of the most difficult tasks for a leader can often be building consensus. But if you are calm under pressure, optimistic and encouraging, you will keep morale high and float to the top. Afterall, one of the first steps to becoming a successful leader is showing empathy. Kindness sets the foundation for building a closer connection with your team members. That is why FEW offers mentoring opportunities to advance professional development and leadership skills.

Today, being an efficient leader is more difficult than ever before. With job responsibilities increasing, many employees are self-managing outside the scope of their job descriptions. In addition, hiring and retention are becoming more complicated—team sizes are expanding, and employees are working remotely.

As a leader, you are often judged on whether or not you are getting the job done—but are you doing it with kindness? That is the new measure of success.

Different situations require distinct types of leadership, but kindness will always have a role. To join the exclusive club of kind leaders, set a positive example for others to follow. That’s where your integrity, honesty, vision, humility and focus come into play.

Afterall, we are all happier when we act in service to others. Being an effective leader means constant reflection, personal development, collecting and responding to feedback from the team and taking action.

Whatever your organizational role is, make your mark with kindness.

More than anything, treating others with kindness is the right thing to do. We take our cues from leaders, managers and colleagues and kindness begets kindness.

FEW helps more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program: training, legislation, diversity and compliance.

For more information, visit few.org.

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7 Things Kind Leaders Say

7 Things Kind Leaders Say

Hire good people, treat them with kindness and steer them to success. That is a simple formula for increasing productivity and sustaining engaged, productive employees.

Whether you are a director of a department or a leader of internal teams, the things you say, the way you respond and the actions you take will impact the way employees and colleagues react. It’s no surprise that positive interactions in the workplace create a pleasant and engaged staff, ultimately creating a more sustainable organization. Creating a caring and supportive company culture begins with kind leaders who treat others with empathy.

Kind leaders are trustworthy, exude positive energy and lead by listening. They care as much about their colleagues as they do about business and facilitating communication comes naturally to them.

Here are seven things kind leaders say:

#1. “You are doing an excellent job.”
Kind leaders are positive. They motivate employees with reassuring words and challenge them to do their best. One way you can instill purpose in your team is by commending them for a job well done, including tasks that are outside of their job scope or are “mundane.” Simple, everyday gestures of appreciation in the workplace bring teams together and boost morale. Everyone wants to feel like their work matters. If you are sincere and timely with your positive praise, you will boost productivity and loyalty. Your team will also be more eager to go above and beyond to support company-wide initiatives.

#2. “What’s your take on this?”
Strive to learn from your team, not just teach them. Using this phrase helps to boost your team’s confidence and helps you as a leader gain insight from their valuable feedback. Encourage others to work as part of the larger team to achieve organizational goals. When you ask for input or help strategizing, that shows that you value and appreciate your colleagues, empowering them to speak up and contribute their ideas.

#3. “How are you doing…really?”
People are often skeptical of those in power. In addition to asking colleagues questions that show you  care about their well-being, they also want to know you as a person, not just as a “boss.” Consider team-building activities outside of the office. FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level to spark fellowship among members. Opening up to colleagues and asking questions about their life outside of the office—hobbies, family or interests—will show that you are a “real” person who they can relate to. Taking an interest in your employees shows that you value them and are curious about what motivates them. The stronger your relationship is with them, the more they’ll trust you. Acknowledge your employees’ life outside of the office and encourage them to use their personal days to fully disconnect from work. Make it known that work/life balance is a priority. FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level to spark fellowship among members.

#4. “Where do you want to be in five years?”
Mentoring is a powerful tool. When employees see a clear future and feel supported in their professional endeavors, they are more likely to want to stay with a company for the long term. FEW works toward advancing people in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight, advocating for the advancement of its employees as future leaders of the organization. Ask your colleagues what their goals are and mentor them toward their personal and professional aspirations. Acting as your team’s biggest supporter is an essential part of being a strong leader. This will result in improvements to the organizational structure. It’s no surprise that mentored employees feel more connected to their place of work. That’s why FEW offers mentoring opportunities throughout the year to advance professional development and leadership skills. FEW offers various member benefits ranging from a job bank, legal consultations, a newsletter and discounts on training.

#5. “Mistakes happen.”
As much as you want day-to-day operations and projects to run smoothly, mistakes are bound to happen. Whether it’s a minor miscommunication or a major mistake, handle them with kindness and don’t let your emotions overtake the situation. Instead, think about how you will address the mistake and what you want the outcome to be. That will foster open lines of communication. You may consider using the error as an opportunity to help train or coach your employee. The way you handle a mistake is ultimately a measure of your leadership ability. Remember, no one makes a mistake on purpose. Your colleagues have good intentions and likely feel terrible about messing up.

#6. “How can I help you?”
This question produces a sense of security for your team members, helping them realize that you care and are willing to step in to help them solve problems. Make the office a place where employees want to be. When you listen to what your employees need and offer solutions, they’ll feel encouraged and supported.

#7. “Let’s celebrate!”
Provide praise and recognition often. Whether it’s a big win or something small, it is important to recognize colleagues for hard work and successes, congratulating them for professional and personal achievements. The happier your employees are, the more successful your organization will be.

Being kind isn’t difficult. Remember, a smile and cheerful tone go a long way. Smiling says you care and are approachable. It is an easy way to improve loyalty and retention in the workplace, boosting connection to long term organizational goals.

In fact, a new gauge of successful teams is how connected and energized employees feel by their work. By treating one another kindly, the workplace will be a place employees look forward to returning to—day after day. Commit to positivity and communicate authentically to build high functioning teams.

But most importantly, remember to lead with both your head and your heart.

FEW develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers and increase diversity by examining the demographics of the workforce, including socioeconomic status, communication, leadership and thinking styles and family composition.

For more information, visit few.org.

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Why Kind Leaders Float to the Top

National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month is a campaign held each January since 2002 to promote youth mentoring in the United States.

Youth who have a mentor are more likely to:

  • Attend and engage in school
  • Complete their education, including college
  • Have more positive relationships and attitudes

Mentoring among adults in business can also be a highly positive, mutually beneficial experience. With the goals of personal and professional development, an experienced individual will share knowledge, experience, and advice with a less experienced person. The relationship should be based on mutual respect and trust. It can offer benefits, personally and professionally, for both the mentor and the mentee.

Benefits to the mentee are expected, and some that are reported include:

  • Provides impartial advice and encouragement
  • Develops a supportive relationship
  • Assists with problem solving
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Offers professional development
  • Encourages reflection on practice
  • Learn from the experience of others
  • Become more empowered to make decisions
  • Identify goals and establish a sense of direction
  • Career advancement

There are many benefits to the mentor as well:

  • Opportunity to reflect on own practice
  • Enhances job satisfaction
  • Develops professional relationships
  • Enhances peer recognition
  • It uses your experience, making it available to a new person
  • It widens your understanding of the organization and the way it works
  • It enables you to practice interpersonal skills
  • It provides personal satisfaction through supporting the development of others
  • Builds leadership skills
  • Improves communication skills
  • Advance your own career
  • Learn new perspectives

In short, mentoring can be a positive and productive experience for all involved. Whether you feel a need for guidance or feel you have experience to lend, consider a mentoring relationship to help you develop both personally and professionally.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

2020 marks the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and also the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The theme for this year is ‘Increasing Access and Opportunity”.

NDEAM is administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment. The purpose of National Disability month is to celebrate America’s workers with disabilities and to remind employers of the importance of inclusive hiring. Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy has said, “People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt. Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”

Here are some ideas for federal agencies who wish to participate in NDEAM:

  • Join Feed – Federal Exchange on Employment & Disability. This is an interagency working group which focuses on information sharing, best practices, and collaborative partnerships to help make the federal government a positive employer of people with disabilities.
  • Access the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) – this program connects federal and private sector employees to qualified students and recent graduates with disabilities.
  • Provide federal-specific training – Agencies can use this month to provide training to all employees and refresher training to disability program managers, hiring managers, supervisors, EEO representatives and selective placement coordinators.
  • Start a mentoring program – Federal agencies can participate in Disability Mentoring Day (see References below) on the third Wednesday of October.
  • Feature NDEAM in social media activities – using the hashtag #NDEAM

Resources:

Disability Mentoring Day

What Can You Do?

Ideas for Federal Agencies

Hispanic Heritage Month 2020

Be Proud of your Past and Embrace the Future

Hispanic Heritage Week was first celebrated in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, and the observance was expanded into Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988 under Ronald Reagan. Hispanic Americans today are identified according to the parts of the world that they or their ancestors may have come from, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Spain, or any of the Spanish speaking nations of Central or South America.

As of 2019, the US Hispanic population was numbered at 60.6 million, or about 18% of the US population. Hispanics are the second largest racial or ethnic group. The five states with the largest Hispanic population are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

The starting date of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15, coincides with the independence day of several Central American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Celebrations are done in many ways, from parades to concerts and food fairs.  On an individual level, visit a museum to study Hispanic artists, or research important Hispanic figures.

Resources:

Hispanic Heritage Month

American Latino Heritage

Hispanic History

US Hispanic Population Figures

Happy Labor Day!

As the Labor Day weekend approaches, I want to thank you for the dedication you demonstrate each day in service to the American people. Each day we work cohesively toward our common goal as a nation. This has been a difficult year for us all due to the COVID-19 virus, yet we have shown our strength through being adaptable and strong.   We are the workforce that keeps things running despite the many challenges we will face. Today, FEW wants you to know how much we appreciate your service to our communities and most importantly your diligent dedication to helping us excel past all barriers and “Soar to New Heights.”  

I hope that everyone takes some time to disconnect and relax this weekend with family and friends as we mark the unofficial end of summer.

Have a Happy Labor Day!

September is National Preparedness Month

FEMA disaster plan graphic

The idea behind the September observation of National Preparedness month is to encourage individuals to take important steps to prepare for emergencies. Individuals and families need to be aware of the types of emergencies that may affect them in order to create a useful emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and become engaged in the preparation of their community. National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

There is an abundance of resources available online to assist with information one may need to consider while planning for emergencies. Please see the resources listed at the end of this article for links to that information.

Some of the many considerations for an emergency plan can include:

  • How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is your shelter plan?
  • What is your evacuation route?
  • What is your family communication plan?
  • How do you need to update your plans or preparations with regarded to COVID-19?
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Dietary needs
  • Pets or service animals
  • Devices and equipment for the disabled
  • Battery and electronics charging backups
  • Reviewing and updating insurance coverage
  • Protecting critical documents and valuables
  • First aid supplies

Take time this month to consider or update your family’s plans for emergencies.


Resources:

FEMA Emergency Preparedness Publications

Department of Homeland Security Website

Making a Plan

September is Healthy Aging Month

group of women exercising

Healthy Aging Month has been observed for over 20 years. Its purpose is to provide inspiration and ideas for those ages 45+ for physical, mental, and financial well-being. We’re not just talking about baby-boomers anymore – The first of the Generation X-ers reached the age of 50 in 2015!

It may be time to re-invent yourself – is there something you’d like to learn more about? An athletic goal you would like to try? A new business you would like to start? Somewhere you’ve been hoping to travel? Go for the rejuvenation that comes with positive measures to enrich your life.

Here are some suggestions to re-invent yourself this September:

1. Do Not Act Your Age – Don’t accept ‘expectations’ about your age – be the age you want!

2. Be Positive

3.  Ditch the Negativity – surround yourself with positive people

4. Walk Tall – Find the best, most comfortable and supportive shoes and walk with confidence

5.  Stand Tall – Do what your mother told you and stand up straight!

6. How are your teeth?  – Good oral health is a big part of overall health – visit your dentist regularly. Also, consider teeth whitening for a younger look!

7. Lonely? – Pick up the phone, landline, or cell and make a call to do one or more of the following:  Volunteer your time, take a class, or invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee. 

8. Walk 10,000 Steps A Day – Good for your health, your mental well-being and a good way to see your neighbors!

9. Exercise – Yoga and Tai Chi are excellent ways to improve your balance and agility.

10. Mental Acuity – Games and puzzles are great ways to actively exercise your memory.

11. Diet – Eat a well-balance diet for digestive and heart health.

12. Get Your Annual Check-Ups – See your doctor at least annually and keep up with health screenings.

13. Find your inner artist – Music? Art? Woodworking? Crafts? All wonderful ways to add richness to your life.

14. Get plenty of sleep! It’s never too late to take a pro-active approach to aging! This September, try a few new things to enrich your life and improve your health.


Resources:

Healthy Aging

September – Healthy Aging Month

Health Highlights – September

Spend Time with Children

group of happy children

Children are our future. They absorb the life around them and we can maximize their experiences by choosing actions that make a difference. In times of e-learning and social distancing, we can help our children with enriching and meaningful life experiences and in managing the stress of the additional demands of our time.

Most recommendations for making a difference for children reference being fully present for the child in your life. Put down the phone, make eye contact, smile, listen, and provide your full attention. Share meals without electronics.

Here are a number of other suggestions:

  1. Spend time with a child – your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, child of a friend.
  2. Help a child immerse him or herself in what (s)he loves most at the moment.
  3. Focus on a child’s strengths.
  4. Model perseverance and patience.
  5. Show a positive attitude.
  6. Don’t avoid stressors – instead, talk about them with a view to developing coping tactics.
  7. Be reassuring.
  8. Watch for signs of trouble or abuse in the child’s life; bring it to the attention of appropriate resources.
  9. Support an organization that serves children – Scouts, YMCA, Big Brothers and Sisters, local recreation outlets, or places of worship.
  10. Tell policy makers to support initiatives that are good for children.

July is a great month to spend time with children. The rewards for the child are lifetime in length, and the rewards for you are too.


Resources: