Are you an “OZ” in your world?

A lot of what I write has to do with people and leadership and today’s post is a little off the top of my head based on some thoughts and conversations I have had recently.

When most of us see the term OZ we think of the Wizard of Oz and the wonderful movie that came out in the late 1930’s that made Judy Garland famous as a child start.  This movie was one of the first made with large scale color and it also had a tremendous amount of symbolism, especially when you consider the world at that time and the lurking presence of the Nazi machine throughout Europe.

The character that keeps coming to mind for me is the Wizard.  When we first meet the wizard we see him as a pair of legs behind a curtain.  He is pulling levers and twisting knobs to help present an appearance or outcome to those of us on the outside.  In the end the wizard helps make dreams come true for each of the four main characters, the scarecrow, Tinman, lion and our heroine, Dorothy.

So it is too in the world of work.  Each of us come to our kingdom with a set of skills and a few gaping deficits where we need someone to help us find what we need.  The Scarecrow needed a brain, the Tinman needed a heart, the Lion needed courage and Dorothy wanted to return to Kansas.  I suspect she must have been either a Jayhawk, Wildcat or Shocker fan, but we will not take that detour today.

Many of us meet our “Oz” in the world of work.  Oz is the person who helps us identify where we have gaps and he/she then will assist us to fill in these gaps.  Let me share a few experiences of the Oz’s I have had in my life.

I was in the middle of a manufacturing startup in the early 1990’s when I was tapped on the shoulder to start a training and development function for our firm, a Japanese-American automotive supplier.  My first Oz was Tena Figgins, an OD consultant from Delco Electronics (now Delphi).  Tena helped me learn that in order to know others well I needed to know myself well.  She worked with me for a number of years and we still occasionally trade messages.  Much of  my early self development came from my Oz-experience with Tena.

A second Oz experience really came in the persona of a duo of women, Judy Cline and Barbara Winger.  I had recently become the VP of HR for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee and our CEO introduced me to Barbara.  This dynamic duo helped me fill in the gaps I had with knowing other HR professionals and many of those I met through these two wonderful ladies are still prized friends today.

As we go through our careers we will have the opportunity to be an Oz to others.  The choice is ours; will we help fill in the gaps and direct them to where they need to go or will we ignore them and let the wicked witch of the west (an analogy) get them?

Development is a journey, not a destination.  Staying on the development path is a choice and one that must involve pauses occasionally to check the map versus our next destination.  Even when we are not sure what we are doing, we need to still know where we are going.  Activity without purpose is fruitless.

All of us need an Oz in our life and many of us will be that Oz to others.

The choice is yours.  Will you follow the “yellow brick road” or get lost?

My advice is to consult with the wizard, your wonderful Wizard of Oz.