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

 

Don’t Forget About the Don’ts!

Accountability Be Accountable

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Story: I was listening to a relatively inexperienced leader explaining why he was having a hard time getting stuff done on major projects. As he outlined the obstacles, it was always somebody else’s fault. After the meeting, I respectfully took him aside and told him NOT to do that. Yes, I also positively suggested what he might say and do instead. However, I explicitly and unapologetically told him what NOT to do and explained the consequences. I believe he appreciated the specific examples and frankness of me saying flat out, “don’t do that and here’s why. And here is a way you might approach the matter to demonstrate you are personally self accountable instead of laying off blame on others.”

Key Point: I wonder if we have become so concerned about being so positive and nice that we have gone soft on the “don’ts.” Yes, I know we want to catch people doing things right instead of wrong, and all that well-intended encouragement. Yet the positive “do’s” often become clearer when accompanied by the additional insight supplied by a “don’t.” As a trivial example, “clean up and buss your dishes” might also need an explicit “don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; rinse and put them in the dishwasher.” It’s obvious, you say? I don’t think so. For some, people cleaning up dishes and putting them in the sink, more than meets the “do.” Yet additional clarity sometimes comes with the “don’t.” “Be more specific on the ‘do’,” you say. Perhaps… Yet, the most efficient and impactful communication might come from the “don’t”. Outlining don’ts doesn’t necessarily mean one is negative, unless that is the only mantra. Lonesome “don’ts” can rapidly drain our energy.

We have 10 explicitly stated values outlined, and we call them our 10 ATBs. They are stated in positive terms like ATB No. 3, which is “Think Yes First.” To have people understand this completely, we tell stories that illustrate what behavior demonstrates this action. We also find stories that demonstrate thinking “no” first, and this better frames up the full value statement. It’s old fashioned “do’s and don’ts” that bookend a more complete understanding. When I watch great sports or music coaches, they balance both. When we engage people respectfully and they understand that our intentions are being fueled by helping them advance, they normally relish a healthy balance of “do’s” and “don’ts.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be more positive than negative. However, recognize that calling out a “don’t” is legitimate, and may be the best way to achieve a more clear understanding.
  2. If you are on the receiving end of a “don’t,” say a genuine “thank you” for the feedback and then look at it more objectively. Don’t be so thin skinned that when you hear a”don’t,” it bothers you. You don’t have to score an “A” in everything. This is easier said than done.

Accepting the value of “don’t” in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is specifically helpful for my perma-positive generation who just plain LOVES being triggered by everything, and likes to believe they can do no wrong. In reality, there are plenty of rights and wrongs, and do’s and don’ts. It’s our duty to learn these things. If we don’t recognize this, we’re simply lying to ourselves. Sometimes a little gut-check and a “don’t” is exactly what we need to improve.

– 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 

Shaking and Rumbling Before the Breakthrough

Abundance Be Abundant

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Story: Chuck Yeager, the famous US pilot credited as the first to soar through the sound barrier, describes the unbelievable ruckus before the actual breakthrough. Accounts by Yeager and numerous others describe the incredible shaking, rocking, noise and general turbulence at 700 mph before cracking through. Then, there’s the wondrous beauty, relative silence and smooth sailing in the aftermath.

Key Point: Everyone of us will have numerous barrier breaking experiences in our lives (if we’re fortunate). And right now, many people I know and love, seem to be feeling Chuck Yeager’s turbulent moments. When you’re in it, whatever the circumstances, and however long, it will feel like eternity. It will feel like everything will bust apart and you will literally, in some form, crash and burn. The fact is, unless you choose that outcome, it rarely happens. At the moment, never ending crap and bad luck actually feels relentlessly real. Yet, when one is given the perspective from the future, which we unfortunately don’t have, it will viewed as a blip in our lifetime journey.

Some studies suggest that if you’re under 50 years of age, unless unlucky, you will likely live to be more than 125 years old. Those of us over 50 all have a good shot to beat 100. The few years of shakiness one may be going through momentarily will feel like an anthill in the rear view mirror.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Ok… I get that there are obligations and bills to pay. That is just one problem in a lousy situation, and it often involves taking a huge gulp of humility. Someone I love dearly has a graduate degree and more initials at the end of his name than anyone I know. After his job situation blew up, he spent almost three years as a greenskeeper on a local golf course, humbly waving at executives he knew from his prior role playing 18-holes and drinking beer. I admire him. Five hard years later (after getting laid off again in the oil recession), he’s back at full-swing doing what he’s great at. He’s a better human/leader for it. Allow for carving out the obligation strategy from the overall personal reinvention strategy. 
  2. This personal “shaking” time has to be your sweet opportunity to self-learn AND add to your adaptive resilience. What new content/skills will you acquire? Why? What personal values will you extend, adjust and embrace? What stories will you be able to tell? As you attend to number one above, you need a parallel plan for YOU! DO NOT waste the time just frantically throwing out resumes and network. Of course, you have to do that. But if that’s ALL you do, you’ll just get another job. If helps number one above for a while but…
  3. If you have a friend going through this, for heaven’s sake reach out and be a true friend. Your ignorant silence speaks all the judgment you may be trying to avoid. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious. However, I promise you one thing, even if you confidently deny it at the moment, your Chuck Yeager time will come. I hope your friend that you ignored in his/her time, will be there just to care and listen to you.

Breaking the sound barrier in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Yeah, it’s crazy to understand or grasp the full amount of time we have to be personally and professionally malleable. We Millennials likely still remember school (where everything was given a letter grade and improvements could be managed and calculated accordingly). Now, it’s a little more complicated. But, hopefully our values, positive attitude, work ethic, and goals can help get us through turbulence… Even if it’s shaking for an uncomfortable amount of time.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Getting Flatter Than Ever

Abundance Be Abundant

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Key Point: Familiar vertical leadership models are rapidly disappearing. As business models are being disrupted, so are the organizational structures many of us have grown up with. Modern companies are recognizing that new, collaborative communications and productivity tools along with the serious need for more adaptive, agile, and innovative cultures are quickly turning org charts inside out. The idea that people progress from worker to supervisor to manager to director to exec director to maybe VP is going bye-bye. Why? Connecting problems to solutions and necessary information flow is way too slow if it has to move up, down and across functions. If formal leadership is essentially command and control, is it really adding value? I don’t think so.

New leadership models like Holacracy and Agile are getting traction. These emerging leadership and governance principles involve much broader spans of control, more team/individual autonomy, accelerated peer-to-peer initiatives/coaching, teaming versus teamwork, and more. The thought that formal leaders have a few direct reports who they provide day-to-day direction is both inefficient and not adding value. It may make sense that formal leaders have at least 25 or more direct reports. These leaders would then have to focus on value added strategic support instead of daily direction. Who reports to whom becomes much less important than who is best equipped to get things done.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Ask yourself the hard questions as what value formal leaders in your organization really add. What’s the evidence? Is your leadership structure most efficient?
  2. What do you really need from a leader? Are you getting that? If not, what better contribution might you receive? From who? How often?
  3. Consider whether technology/skills/attributes are coming together for more autonomous, and greater contributions for all. How might we unleash that?

Unleashing all in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is interesting. It seems to me that most Millennials can get on board with more autonomy, and it’s fine if the typical progression or “ladder climbing” is done differently. But most importantly, there are still ladders that we want to ascend, so it would be great if whatever new leadership platforms take over still have an avenue to promote, compete, grow and succeed.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis