Drinking Out of the Cup!

Key Point: Winning as a team is intoxicating. Why? Because teams WIN as the playbook or “system” connects all members and departments in an exponentially better way. Great teams, of course, do include superb individual contributions. It’s clear some people have larger roles and play bigger parts in the journey. However, in superb team-based organizations, no “one,” or select few can win on their own. To really be victorious, every part of the system contributes. Typically, one person is selected to pick up the “prize,” yet in truly great organizations, everyone is recognized for the vital roles they play. 

I love hockey, and the metaphor attached to winning the National Hockey League’s ultimate championship, the Stanley Cup. When the winning team prevails, the Cup is hoisted up over the head of EACH player and eventually every other person professionally attached to the organization. This includes the sales people, ticket folks, operations, marketing, accounting, receptionists, ushers, and everyone else who makes the entire system work. And of course, tradition involves drinking some celebratory bubbly beverage out of that very trophy. Winning teams celebrate hard too. 

This week, our company was recognized by Great Place to Work as the No. 2 company in all of Canada. This is quite remarkable for a 5,000 person, boutique financial institution dedicated to serving the province of Alberta. Other outside sources rate us as one of the best companies in North America. We have much to do to get EVEN BETTER. In fact, we won’t be satisfied until we are continuously recognized as the best company in the world. While we aspire to even higher levels, we are a WINNING organization. And just like Stanley Cup champs, it takes the entire system working in full harmony to get the W. It also takes years and intentional development of EVERY part of the institution to achieve sustainable momentum as a whole. It is never just one person, one department, one product or “one” of anything. That’s what differentiates winning teams from the others. I am always amused when other organizations try to copy one or two things. It is never that simple. Winning takes every thing, every person, every detail, every nuance meshed into exceptional performance driven by a higher purpose.

I want to recognize every winning person and process at ATB and invite all to hoist the cup high. We achieve our greatness together. This includes all the people who have built our culture over the past 80 years, and the ones that will continue the legacy after our current leadership is gone. I particularly want to note the people who do all the heavy lifting behind the scenes; often unnoticed. You know who you are. Thank you. 

Character Moves:

  1. Determine where you are in building or being part of a championship team. It takes a methodical and relentless approach to make every part of the system better at the same time. This strategy takes courage and will be criticized by people who think it’s too hard, too much, too chaotic, too ambitious, and/or too big. They will fight to keep you perpetually mediocre. I detest this attitude. Don’t be one of those folks!
  1. Having a winning mindset includes a growth mindset. When you embrace this perspective, you can’t stand just being “good enough.” You hate sameness. You are abundant in spirit and pull/push the entire system forward. You are a winner. I want to work with YOU. 
  1. I apply an eight point system/framework as a guide to team/organization greatness. It is simple to describe, and very hard to execute on. Send me an email to lgrubis@gmail.com and I’d be happy to share it with you. I challenge you to execute on it and unseat us as the best company to work for in the universe. The more winning teams, the better for all. 

No. 1 in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: First and foremost, congratulations to everyone at ATB! As Millennials, we have to imagine ourselves as the rookies, the newly drafted… For most of us, we probably aren’t “first rounder” star players either. But, if we sit back and rely on the one or two all stars to get it all done for us, then we’ll never be able to contribute to that championship because it’ll never be won. And we certainly won’t deserve to hoist the Cup over our heads. Want that win just as much as everyone better than you.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Transform Our World

Key Point: This blog is a little different because I’m asking for our wonderful community of readers to help our company attract game changers. Hopefully reading it will also tweak your view of the organization you work in.

Are you able to be the one and/or attract the people who just make a heck of a difference? These folks have a powerful, sustainable impact and inspire those around them. When they enter a room, you can feel the heat in the best possible way. Kinda like Justin Timberlake, they’re into always bringing “Sexy Back,” but through the intersection of knowledge, passion and a jetpack that’s always fired up.

I admire Google’s definition of a “Moonshot:” To positively impact one billion human beings. Now that’s thinking BIG! At ATB Financial we want to transform our part of the world too. We want to reimagine banking and make it really work for people. We’ll start with our own mini-moonshot aimed at four plus million people, including every Albertan. We have been Alberta’s bank for nearly 80 years. Over 5,000 team members put on their ATB name badge everyday, and fully embrace the privilege of serving Albertans in everything they do that involves finance. 

However, the sobering fact is that people need banking, but they do not necessarily need banks (including ATB Financial). But, if we think BIG and “YES” first, we genuinely believe we can reimagine banking so that it becomes an indispensable and integrated part of each of our customers’ lives. We are right in the middle, sandwiched between Canada’s world-class charter banks and a swarm of financial technology startups nibbling at our margins. And we like it. The big guys challenge us by heft, scale and scope, while the upstarts buzz over us with their ingenuity. This provides huge energy and the motivation to be more agile, inventive and resilient. We have so many strengths to build on. We have a highly engaged culture, recognized by outside experts as one the top 10 places to work in Canada. We’re a deeply experienced, fired-up, leadership team playing to win. We’ve employed a world class banking system that gives us one version of the truth, and have the highest customer advocacy scores in the industry. ATB is a crown corporation and our AA+ bond rated single shareholder has a long term view. ATB has demonstrated sustained profitability, embraces an Albertan entrepreneurial spirit, has market share leads in both retail and commercial markets, a growth and disruptive mindset and much, much more. 

At the same time, we need to add some key ingredients into our mix. That may include you or someone you know. The spice we want to add into our transformation recipe is a person who lives fully immersed in the digital world, may be a data science thought leader and/or a genius purveyor of innovation. This includes someone who wants to make a legendary contribution to ATB’s Story and already lives what we call our 10 ATBs. When you read the descriptions of both declarations, you know that’s a mirror of who you are. And you are ready to bring it and to seek heat, and to become part of our very personal moonshot here at ‪ATB. Additionally, joining the team and journey includes the courage think BIG… Be BIG… With sleeves rolled up, a renowned ability to get S#!* done, while still having a lot of fun. One more thing: You are a collaboration magnet! People just love working with you.  

If you want to kick around the possibility of becoming part of our promise to reimagine banking and execute on making a memorable, positive difference in millions of people lives, click on this link and see where it takes you… Maybe to the “moon.”

Character Moves:

  1. Please help us find these people. Connect on LinkedIn with me and/or send me something at lrubis@atb.com. Many of our readers are outside North America. We want people focused on Albertans, yet we recognize they may come from elsewhere… After all, almost everyone in this province once did too. Thank you.

Lorne Rubis 

Conjunction Leadership

Key Point: Dave Mowat, the CEO of ATB Financial, has a 99 percent approval rating on Glassdoor. This is the No.1 Glassdoor rating of any CEO amongst large companies. Apple’s Tim Cook is sixth on the same rating list, just to give you a sense for how great Dave is. I’ve learned a lot working for him. However, the most unique thing I’ve gleaned from Dave is his commitment to what he calls “conjunction leadership.” This is not any old conjunction. It’s Dave’s belief in the power of “AND,” that’s made me pause and think “Wow.” Why? Because he believes that “AND” does a number of things:

  1. It adds balance by giving two sides of a coin towards achieving progress.
  1. It opens up possibilities (As opposed to the conjunction “BUT”).
  1. It supports the principle of paradox, which Dave believes is vital for keeping organizations and people authentic.

Let me give you a few examples. We have 10 values we call our “ATBs.” They include the following two that embrace conjunction leadership. Notice the “AND” in each tenet: 

CH

“Recognize that we are good at what we do but we are fortunate to be in the position we are – fortunate to have customers who trust us with their money and their futures. We are not better or smarter than them. We’re simply here because we believe banking can change people’s lives for the better. That’s our job.”

TR

“Banking is about trust. Listen to customers, know what makes them happy, understand we live in a diverse province with lots of different views, and find every opportunity to show customers you trust them. Same with team members. Show team members you respect and trust them and be worthy of their trust in you. You’ll be amazed at how simple things can become. Connect with team members across the organization and find people you care about. When you make a commitment, meet or exceed it.”

When Dave talks about the power of paradox, he fosters the teeter-totter ability of being both complex AND simple, sophisticated AND basic, global AND local, just to name a few. He expects his leaders to be as comfortable in cowboy boots as they are in designer shoes. He wants us to be able to embrace tech or finance speak with the best minds in the world, while being able to translate this “foreign language” into accessible concepts without talking down to anybody. He wants us to be global thought leaders and yet to always honor our local roots. 

Character Moves:

  1. Learn from the best by embracing the power of AND. It is mostly about balance rather than addition. This conjunction can feel tiresome when it always piles on. However, it frees us up when it informs us about what to do and how to think. 
  1. You now have been introduced to two basic principles about “conjunction leadership,” if you’re a long time blog reader. The first is to STAY LEFT of YOUR “BUT” (introduced in a previous blog), AND now the second is to EMBRACE the POWER of AND. Do both. 

AND in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Somehow by living in Los Angeles I’ve learned a few improv skills through association. Everybody knows the first rule of improv is always responding to a proposed situation with, “yes, AND.” That’s how to keep a performance on stage flowing properly. Without it, the premise can’t smoothly evolve, and rhythm stops. When you think about it, improv and leadership may not be too different.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Are You a Top Chef?

Key Point: Do you think you can drive your organization (or more modestly, your team) to be a top place to work at? The results to determine greatness are: Measurably high engagement scores, leading productivity numbers, benchmark setting people attraction/retention, market leading customer attraction/retention and above average financial results. Ok Top Chef, here are the ingredients that, when baked together, drive that desired outcome. Can you follow this recipe? If not, I believe you will be disappointed what comes out of the oven. That’s why so many organizations aspire to be great, but get burned. How about you and your company?  

1. People FIRST!

You have to have the courage to put people first. If you think customers or shareholders are the priority, you will never get there. The evidence is clear, but for a variety of stupid reasons, business leaders can’t get there. Shareholders will get the best return and customers will be happy to spend their money with companies whose employees are fired up and turned on. 

2. Inspiring Purpose and Story.

No organization can be great without a purpose that gets people excited to contribute. Sorry to burst your bubble if you think net income results and market share will do it. People are typically not driven to do great things or give their hearts, body and minds to organizations that set big audacious goals around money and/or other numbers. To become inspired, employees need a personal connection to a mission that makes a positive difference to other human beings. Of course EBITDA, market share, etc. helps with compensation and employment security. But you’ll never be a great place to work at without a purpose and story people genuinely and deeply care about. What gets you excited to come to the office?

3. Intentional Applied Values.

What defines the organization’s culture? A clear, inspiring purpose AND intentional values are mandatory. People need clarity and specificity about what drives the culture. This is NOT a marketing or human resource initiative! This is what people get hired, promoted and fired over. It is specific, intentional and very obvious to all. There are clear moments of truth and signatures that define and reinforce the values. If these elements are relegated to posters and fridge magnets, you’ve lost your way. If they are lead by a person, rather than the entire leadership system, you will be disappointed.

4. Results Driven Leadership System.

People have a right to great leaders, and leaders have a responsibility to become great (not perfect). If your leadership system can’t drive sustainable results, you’ve got work to do. Your system is responsible for achieving ongoing results. It should develop a collaborative working system that creates exceptional value and ensures people at all levels are personally growing.

5. Personal Equity Promise.

No organization can promise jobs or permanent employment. However great organizations can commit to YOU as an employee being richer based on your involvement with the company. In our Institution, we promise that people will be richer the day they leave: Financially, experientially, emotionally, and even spiritually. Yes, you have to be self-accountable for having a growth mindset. Do that, and you will depart (and we all have a last day) much richer. 

6. Acute Listening.

Great organizations have powerful listening mechanisms, for team members and with customers. This includes comprehensive data collection and acting upon insights gathered. Over time, teammates and customers trust the organization to become acutely aware of what needs to be done to advance the organization. Anticipation leads reaction. 

7. Growth and Disruptive Mindset.

If you’re going to be part of THE place to work, EVERYONE must be into personally improving both themselves and the processes they contribute to. Those involved have to know the difference, and how to choose between improving and disrupting. No one can be complacent. The idea that some people can just be maintainers and not innovative is bogus. Everyone must be inventive and able to reimagine. If not… No job. 

8. Peer-to-Peer Leadership.

In great organizations, the leadership comes as much from co-workers as it does from vertical leaders. You learn about what’s important from your teammates, as much as bosses. Psychological safety is very high and this includes receiving frank and helpful feedback from the people around you. The integrity of the organization’s mission and values comes from teammates first. They take responsibility for your success, and will help usher you out if you don’t fit. When it’s working right, you literally LOVE your “brothers and sisters,” and never let them down. Yup… There’s the LOVE word, and great organizations recognize that’s exactly what’s needed.

Character Moves:

  1. Be courageous and be a Top Chef. Put these ingredients together in your own unique way and I promise you will become one of The Places to Work. My frank bet, is that you will chicken out and/or blame someone or something for stumbling. And that’s why ATB Financial will be measurably one of the best companies in the world, because we won’t.

P.S. Let me know if we can help you. Connect with me, or any of my colleagues and we will give you our entire playbook at no cost. Why? We want every organization to be GREAT! 

The best place to work, living the Character Triangle,

Lorne  

One Millennial View: Wow, these points remind me of hearing a great speech from an inspirational coach, and wanting to run through a wall right after hearing them! That “frank bet” in Character Move No. 1 might be all too familiar for many of us, and unfortunately most of us may be too cautious to share this list with superiors because too many aspects are clearly missing in our places of work. So, let’s all create new, anonymous Gmail accounts and forward this to our exec teams. Maybe every organization will become greater.

– SchmerrettHubis@gmail.com 

P.S. Congratulations to ATB Financial! At a gala awards event in Toronto, involving 900 boisterous dinner guests, ATB was awarded the No. 4 Best Place to Work in Canada by The Great Place to Work/Globe and Mail partnership. Google was No.1. Hats off to Google, but look out! Congrats to 5,300 amazing ATB people! 

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

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