Thursday, May 21, 2009

Helping My People...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Is Draining, but Fun

Today, I was invited to talk with the Jewish Community of IBM, which historically (for the past couple of years) has existed as an opt-in online community whose members mostly provide tips on where to find Kosher meals while traveling on business.

The leader is a member of the IBM Manager Community that I lead and he asked me some time ago, "Would you like to talk with the Jewish at IBM Community about Leadership Development opportunities?"

"Sure," I said, feeling more responsibility than usual, more nervous. It's one thing to help leaders at large, but to help leaders from my own community was more pressure than I expected.

In the experience of it today, when I heard a couple of clicks about 15 minutes into the hour, I was crestfallen. What Epikorsische (overly-secular) thing did I say that caused them to hang up on this teleconference, on me? Specifically, I worried that I had somehow offended a couple of the more strictly, Jewishly observant members. Oh, well. Keep your cheery tone up, I told myself and forged on.

It felt important to be telling them of the many resources that were available for their IBM leadership development, both online and as part of formal learning programs and offerings, and to be interspersing my own experience with the tools particularly. Why shouldn't I help my people specifically along with all IBMers? Historically, I've helped my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender IBM colleagues a great deal, but never before was called on to help a dedicated group of Jewish IBMers.

Blame it on Web 2.0; every IBMer can start up an online community behind our firewall now. How great that we can find one another so much more easily now, i.e., people with whom we naturally affiliate.

Probably, about 20 people spent their lunch- and dinner-time with me, depending where they were calling from -- one guy said he was dialing from Israel and had a super-Israeli name -- and only a few consistently asked questions. It can be a loaded topic, and a bit anxiety-provoking, I was reminded, and probably, it didn't help that I called the presentation, "IBM Leadership Development: Another Way for Your Family to Klive Nachas [Take Pride]."

Later, this afternoon, I received an instant-message from a colleague, asking if he could speak with me individually about IBM leadership opportunities, as he had not been comfortable, talking in front of the rest of the callers.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one feeling some pressure. It was worth it, though. Certainly, my mom was proud to hear about the session.

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