50 Years New!

Be Respectful

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Story: She started with our company in 1968 when she was 17-years-old, and will soon be celebrating a 50 year anniversary, our longest tenured employee. Her parents literally wanted her to stay on the family farm. Instead, she applied one of the most important principles that thriving people do; she respectfully chose to live the life she desired rather than what others wanted for her.

Key Point: Out of consideration for her privacy, I will not share personal details. However, I would like to outline some of her (let’s call her Gloria) lessons from a journey of 50 years:  

  1. Be totally positive, and honestly realistic. Most situations, and almost every day has a bright side if you learn to frame it that way. Who wants to work with negative, cynical people?
  2. Embrace change and learn to love it. Actively seek it out. When you reflect on what change most often involves, it is much better than the status quo. Individuals and organizations have a responsibility to continuously move forward.
  3. Be an intentional, constant learner, continuously adding to your expertise, social/emotional skills, and be fearless in trying new things. This is tied to No. 2 above. Do NOT be complacent and think you’ve “gone as far” as you need to. If you stop, you will be left behind.
  4. Have fun every day. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living. Live the life you want in the present, rather than just hoping for a better state in the future.
  5. Whatever you do, when you put others first, things usually turn out for the best. Learn to keep your ego in check.
  6. If you’re a leader, commit to developing others first and do not make it all about yourself. Gloria’s best leaders have behaved this way.
  7. Have enough room in your life for that “convertible hot car” or something that makes life more fun.
  8. Be humble enough to do what needs to be done to move the organization, or the team forward. During her career Gloria has done everything from janitorial work to sophisticated financial advising. Roll up one’s sleeves and make things happen by taking on tough problems, and keeping the customer first .
  9. Failing at something does not mean one is a failure. Moving forward includes having the courage to get things done, with the understanding that one is going to goof up along the way. Get up, jump in the convertible, and accelerate to the next destination.
  10. When you do the above, 50 years zip by… Like 1968 was just yesterday. And more importantly, you will be driving down a highway that is always going forward. More often than not, the road is one worth taking.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. It is unlikely any of our readers will spend 50 years at one company. Nevertheless, Gloria’s lessons apply to us all. They are retro and modern at the same time. You have likely heard all of Gloria’s advice before. The question to ask yourself is, do you really live/work this way?

Riding with Gloria in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s a reason Millennials seek guidance and advice from people like Gloria. It’s true wisdom that can’t really be achieved from a newage textbook, podcast, or YouTube video. Thanks to her great service and willingness to share valuable insight, we’re lucky enough to get a true education 50 years in the making.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Pick Up the Trash!

Be Respectful Respect

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Story: John Wooden, UCLA’s former men’s basketball coach, is arguably the most legendary hall of famer in the NCAA. One amazing thing about Wooden was his reputation for humility. He was already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player, and had an amazing run as a coach (10 National Championships, seven in a row). And what did he do daily? Picked up the trash in the locker room. Why? It was the right thing to do, and modeled the behavior he expected from his players.

Key Point: “Muscle humility”, a term coined by Daniel Coyle, author of the recently released The Culture Code, tells story after story outlining how service driven leaders literally and figuratively pick up the trash as a way of setting the tone for all. A few examples:

  1. There are stories of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who would literally pick up discarded fast food trash every night from the street gutters near a McDonald’s franchise. 
  2. The famous rugby team, The New Zealand All Blacks, have a team value called ”sweeping the Sheds.” The leaders do the menial work, cleaning the locker room and modeling the ethic of togetherness and oneness. (Btw the All Blacks simple but straightforward hiring policy: “NO Dickheads”).  
  3. At the company I work for, we expect each other to clean up after ourselves when we have meetings. Why would we want to have someone else do that for us? 
  4. As part of the interview process for new recruits, some organizations provide an opportunity for prospects to demonstrate how thoughtful and mindful they are about others, by observing how they dispose of what they used post coffee/lunch.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Great and imperfect leaders serve others and recognize it is a privilege to do so. The idea that “Leaders Eat Last” is not an empty metaphor. Rather, as underscored in Simon Sinek’s book of the same title, it is a core value. Be one of those leaders! Be one of those team members!
  2. Picking up the trash frames up the idea that no job is too menial or dirty for any position or title. If you were the CEO of a bank, walked into an area where the ATM machines were housed, and saw the place was a mess, what would you do? I know and have seen what a great CEO does. He cleans up the area. People tell stories of ATB Financial’s CEO Dave Mowat doing just that.

Muscle humility in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I was thinking the other day, one of my least favorite things I’ll hear a co-worker say is, “well, that’s not my job.” 1. Duh. Everyone knows what your job responsibilities usually entail. 2. I’m not suggesting a marketing intern should step in for the legal or accounting team, but that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s usually a small favor to just make things run smoother. Like shutting down a teammate’s computer at the end of the day for them because they forgot. Sometimes “trash” is also just loose ends here and there… One day, you’ll leave a loose end too, and it’s cool if your fellow trash-picker-uppers have your back. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis 

Respectfully and Safely Yours

Respect

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Key Point: Personal safety and the feeling that accompanies it is a freedom that we need to fiercely protect whether at work or anywhere.

I remember the first time I was in Tokyo in 1989. I was returning to the hotel after being out for the evening and it was well past midnight. What struck me (there were a string of news stories of women being assaulted in large North American cities at the time) was seeing Japanese women walking home alone, very late at night, and obviously feeling very comfortable. My understanding is that it’s still that way in Japan.

In 2001, I had an opportunity to travel to Israel and it surprised me how much Israelis had become accustomed to massive increased security; no bulky outerwear allowed in the nightclubs, razor wire around the beaches of the resort we stayed at, bomb checking under every car with long mirrors, etc.

The other day I was at a downtown theater in Seattle seeing a family movie. The pre-movie announcement encouraged attendees to: (I’m paraphrasing) silence your phones, refrain from texting, do not disrupt other movie goers with loud talking, and look for the emergency exit to escape… Hmm. And of course, there is the horrendous airport security we have unfortunately come to accept.

I went to a conference last year with about 1,000 people in attendance, and one keynote speaker used the F-word 27 times in his speech (my seatmate counted). Interestingly, he was from the media firm, VICE (now being criticized for its alleged toxic, harassment oriented culture). When I go to my fitness club, the locker room is filled with men mostly in their 30s/40s, using the F-word as a hyphen. It sounds ridiculous. Why talk like that? Hey, I may sound prudish, and people who know me know I use the F-word from time to time. That doesn’t mean it’s right.

I don’t want to come across as self-righteous or preachy. However, I wonder how might we live in a society where:

  1. Anyone can walk anywhere alone and feel totally safe.
  2. We can attend any event and enjoy the experience without looking over our shoulders.
  3. We think before we say and do, first about the well-being of others we impact instead of it being about “me first.”
  4. We invest in treating mental illness with the same vigor as we do physical ailments.

By now you may be scoffing at my naivety. Ok, I accept that, but I still ask “why not?” Why not make this way of thinking and living as something we aspire to, versus the self defeating acceptance that we need to invest in more personal security?  Buy more cameras, more guns, more physical and psychological armor? Why not start a personal safety movement? One of us at a time.

Personal Character Moves:

  1. For those of us fortunate enough to be in formal leadership positions, we can create totally safe and very results-oriented environments. Let’s commit to this.
  2. For all of us, how about being more respectfully present to those around us and take care of the little things? Hold the doors open for those behind us, choose our words wisely, see and really notice others, and listen with inclusive care.
  3. Attack problems, issues, process and behaviours; never each other.
  4. Apologize when we hurt others, which we know in our imperfect way, that we will surely do.

Respectfully committed to a safer New Year,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Couth and courtesy should absolutely be on the forefront of our minds in professional and personal life, and I imagine for our readers, it mostly is. Otherwise you probably wouldn’t care about the values of the “Character Triangle.” I don’t think this is preaching to you. But as Millennials, we can only control our own behavior, and we cannot expect a “perfect” world where locker rooms don’t have F-bombs, and airports don’t sometimes have real bombs. That ain’t gonna happen. As a staunch supporter of the first amendment, I don’t want a world where loudmouths can’t say whatever they please (of course, there could be social consequences). Still, we can do our personal best to practice better values, and hopefully the freedom to do so will be more influential and attractive to others than the equal freedom to act like a jerk.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The ‘Other’ Angle in Our Daily Life?

Respect

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Key Point: The other day, a thought leader I respect suggested that the first order of enlightened leaders is to continuously help others progress/succeed. It got me thinking about how much organizations and the work lives of people would change for the better if we ALL came to work focused on how we might help “others” succeed everyday. This does not mean that we would avoid our own objectives, accountability or obligations. However, what if the lens we looked through was primarily aimed at helping others succeed while we advanced our own causes?

Let’s walk through the mundaneness of a “normal” day to consider how many of us might work through the premise of doing everything we could to achieve this.

  1. Inbound emails/texts: With every email/text we received, what if we asked ourselves what we thought the other person really was asking for and did everything we could to advance their cause by our response? Even if the email was the dreaded sales “spam,” we would understand that there was a real live salesperson with targets at the other end and would respond with the thought process of “how might I help this person,” including perhaps directly saying “no” so they might not waste their time with you in the future. A delete or non-response would be unacceptable.
  2. Outbound emails/texts: What if when crafting an email we questioned “how might this advance and help the receiver to be more successful?” Even if we had to say “no” or disagree with someone, we asked how might we help them find a way towards future success.
  3. Meetings: What if at every meeting our ambition was to help make sure every person in the meeting was listened to and understood. And we did everything we could to make others feel that they successfully contributed to the meeting.
  4. Interactions: On every personal interaction through the day we sincerely challenged ourselves to help the other person succeed in some way or another. (This doesn’t mean we have to pander, be a pushover, or be naive).

I am a deep believer in the following formula to move relationships forward: Personally Connect, Really Understand what the other wants, THEN determine the Right Action to Take. The “AND” to this equation is to ALWAYS find a way to help the person succeed and move forward. Of course, this does not apply when the other person’s intent is harmful. Thank goodness that perspective is rare.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Challenge yourself to help every OTHER person be successful or move forward through every action, every day. Even if we do not feel like donating to the homeless person with the cardboard sign on the corner, we can smile and “see them.”
  2. If you think this is mush headed goofiness, challenge yourself between now and the end of December to better work and live this way. Will you notice any difference in others? In yourself?

Applying the “other” angle in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s no denying the month of December has many people inherently thinking in more of a “giving” way. Whether it’s due to the holiday season,  colder climates, or food-oriented occasions, everyone’s just tuned into the idea of helping others “succeed.” Of course, this fades out as quickly as most New Year’s resolutions, but considering our co-workers are a constant that don’t fade away after Jan. 1, this is an attainable goal with reminders at every cubicle.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Wake Up: Inclusiveness is a MUST

Respect

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Key Point: We still have plenty of leaders that think of “inclusiveness” as “politically correct,” and mushy headed, phoney bologna. I recently participated in a panel discussion involving top execs and executive MBAs. The execs were primary C suite folks and (not surprisingly), mostly older white males.

On the panel, I firmly stated my belief that leaders could not afford to brush off the importance of intentional inclusiveness. In order to have adaptive cultures, we need massive cognitive diversity and psychologically safe, inclusive environments. At the dinner table after the panel discussion, a senior exec who listened to our panel discussion suggested that I was “patronizing” and that he “was very inclusive.” He emphasized though, competence trumped all other considerations and some pools (like engineering/technology) limited inclusive possibilities… Hmm… So, I checked out some research to help us explore the question of how objective and self-aware leaders stand on the matter of inclusivity.  

The consulting firm Zenger/Folkman (as published in the Harvard Business Review), analyzed one large organization with an excellent track record of hiring and promoting diverse candidates, with a reputation for inclusion. Zenger administered 360-degree feedback assessments for roughly 4,000 leaders, and the company agreed to let them use that data for this analysis. A summary of the findings as noted in the HBR article:

“1. Leaders are not good judges of their own effectiveness on valuing diversity; and those leaders who are poorest fail to see the problem, while those who are the best don’t realize their skill and effectiveness…

2. Leaders who were rated very poorly on valuing diversity and inclusion were rated in only the 15th percentile for their overall leadership effectiveness, while those who were rated in the top 10 percent of those two items were rated in the 79th percentile…

Valuing diversity is an attitude and mindset. Practicing inclusion involves a set of behaviors that can be developed in leaders. Our research has shown that self-perceptions in this arena are not highly accurate. While it could be argued that individual leaders may best know what’s in their hearts, others are in a far better position to objectively evaluate whether and how they practice inclusion in their day-to-day work.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Put the tired, old-school arguments about diversity and inclusion negatively competing with competence to rest for good. Value identity and cognitive diversity as a necessary investment in cultural adaptability and innovation.
  2. Do not accept the B.S. that leaders can accurately self-assess how much they really value diversity/inclusion. Others need to help us see our blind spots on this topic.
  3. Intentionally work on understanding what it means to be inclusive. Invest in very credible assessment tools to really find out where you stand on the diversity/inclusion continuum.

Inclusively Competent in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: As a Millennial, there has always been a huge amount of inclusiveness and diversity in the places I’ve worked. I’m thrilled to say that from my experience, our main concern and priority was getting the job done, and all anyone cared about was performance quality. So, perhaps that’s a good indication we’re already moving forward.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis