Wednesday Q/A on Personal Leadership

Management Organizational culture Personal leadership


To our readers, 

Welcome to our latest installment of a Lorne Rubis Q/A series. We’ve accumulated some popular leadership questions, and below are Lorne’s answers to them. We plan to release these every-other Wednesday. We’d like to encourage you to participate, see below on how to contribute! 

  1. “Hey Lorne, I’ve just been promoted to a sales manager position and will be responsible for a team for the first time. Do you have any advice for someone stepping into a leadership position for the first time?” 

Yes… Regardless of what leadership level, people around you want to know who you are and what you stand for (your values / personal purpose) and where you’re going (so they can decide if they want to be part of it). The more you can be clear and authentic about the above, the more trust you will develop. And be real. You will be transparently obvious. No one likes a phony. And finally, people will give you lots of room to lead if they believe you deeply care about them first.

– Lorne 

  1. “When attempting to build and advance culture in your organization, is timing important?”

Building and advancing your culture is a never ending intentional focus. It does not have an end. However, there are times (like CEO transitions) or major market shifts when renewed energy or concentration ought to be applied! Key: Be intentional… Be relentless… Think and be humbly BIG!

– Lorne

We hope you enjoyed this Q/A session. We’d like to keep these coming, so if you have any questions, please submit them to, or DM us @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter. We look forward to many more, every other Wednesday.

Offer a Continuous Buyout?

Accountability Management


Key Point: People should want to work for a company, and not feel obligated to stay (and vice versa). As reported by the Financial Post, “Shaw Communications Inc. will eliminate 25 percent of its workforce after about 3,300 employees accepted buyouts, five times more departures than originally anticipated as the company charts its path into a digital future. The Calgary-based communications giant announced… the results of its voluntary buyout program, stating it expects to take a $450 million charge in the second quarter of fiscal 2018 in relation to the massive restructuring. That includes severance and other employee costs, as well as expenses for the initiative it’s calling a ‘total business transformation.’ Shaw offered packages to 6,500 employees in late January. At the time, it said it expected only 650 employees to accept the offer.”

Wow! What does it say about an organization when you give them an incentive to leave and 25 percent want out? Perhaps an even more important question is; how can you miss estimating how many people actually want to leave by 5x? In fact, 25 percent moving on might be a great number if you hope to reinvent your company, and need a major injection of new talent. If I was on that board, I’d be asking some very tough questions. I’d be most concerned with leadership not being more in touch, than the fact that 1/4 of the entire workforce chose the long term uncertainty of unemployment rather than to stay with the company. And saying the offer was too rich is an oversimplification. No one is getting rich on this, or most other corporate buyouts.

It’s easy to take pot shots at Shaw from a distance, and I certainly don’t have the entire picture. Running a cable/communications company in this disruptive environment has to be very challenging. However, I think there is lots to learn from this for all companies. I believe every company should have a standing buyout offer similar to Shaw’s. If people would rather leave – please go. Quitting ON the job, or having the wrong skill/attitude combination, has to be the biggest cost for any company. Surely, having a defined self-selected path out would make it easier for all. The flipside is that companies should also be able to ask a person to involuntarily take a buyout if, for whatever reason, they don’t see that individual as part of the future. In this case, it would be clear that EVERYONE was all-in. At the same time, leadership would be more committed to having a very attractive purpose/vision, great culture and team members would be more self-accountable for bringing their very best every day.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you were presented with the Shaw offer (reported to be six months of pay plus one month for every year spent at the company), would you take it? What does your answer tell you? How many of your colleagues would take it? How confident are you with the estimate?
  2. Let’s all work at changing the stupidity of “golden handcuffs,” and the phony time wasted with outdated, Dilbert inspired performance management. You and I are both giving and receiving value, or we’re out. Contrary to many of my recommendations, it actually is that simple and not that hard. And it’s likely over a long career you and I will experience both options. Yay!

Loving buyouts in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I don’t think many people wish to be in the shoes of a leader at a cable company in this Netflix, YouTubeTV, and HBONow era. It must be tough. And, I think us Millennials understand the temptation of ditching a gig for a buyout. Instant gratification? For better or worse, that’s kind of our language. That said, most of us would rather swipe right on a company and not completely want to bail after one date. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Upside Down Leadership

Accountability Organizational culture Organizational leadership


Key Point: Overall, leadership isn’t getting much better. Even though organizations are spending tons of money on leadership development, statistically we aren’t seeing much leadership improvement. According to a recent HBR article: “70 percent of leaders rate themselves as inspiring and motivating – much in the same way as we all rate ourselves as great drivers. But this stands in stark contrast to how employees perceive their leaders. A survey published by Forbes found that 65 percent of employees would forego a pay raise if it meant seeing their leader fired, and a 2016 Gallup engagement survey found that 82 percent of employees see their leaders as fundamentally uninspiring. In our opinion, these two things are directly related. There is a vast upside to human leadership. As data from McKinsey & Company shows, when employees are intrinsically motivated, they are 32 percent more committed and 46 percent more satisfied with their job and perform 16 percent better.”

The idea that there is a vast upside to human leadership is a head scratcher. I guess somewhere along the road we signed up for inhuman leadership? And 65 percent would forego a raise to see their boss fired? Holy cow! So, how might we rapidly change this so-called inhuman leadership?

Based on 40 plus years of real world experience and leading research, I suggest the following:

  1. Allow employees to transparently rate leaders in confidential ways. The data trend would be your friend, or not. If we used a minimum number of input (10 people?) to openly rate leaders, we would see leadership improve dramatically. The audience is usually right. People have a right to great leaders. Continued poor ratings would require leaders to improve or be replaced.
  2. Expect that every leader should ask for feedback FIRST. Leaders like the ability and even expect to give feedback to direct reports. However, modern research reinforces the value of leaders creating psychologically safer environments, by setting the foundation for meaningful conversations and asking how they might improve first!
  3. Change one-on-one meetings to have leaders ask only two questions: How might I help you? What might I do better to advance our purpose?
  4. Adjust the span of leadership control to a minimum of 20 to 1. Leaders spend too much time “checking up” rather than adding value. Most of the time meetings are for leaders’ need to know and command/control. In more modern systems, leaders are more like gardeners than commanders.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. How are you rated as a leader by your direct reports? Would you be recommended to a friend? Family member? If Uber drivers are rated, shouldn’t you, me and all leaders be too?
  2. Get out in front and ask for feedback first. Say “thank you,” and go forward.

Turning things right side up in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: For Millennials, it seems that the most attractive organizations to work for offer as much autonomy as possible. If a leader doesn’t trust that their employees know how to do their job, then why the heck did they hire them? That said, leaders should also be revered. It’s FUN to have a great leader: A mentor you look up to, a person you want to perform well for, and someone with the ability to give you occasional positive acknowledgment or a kick-in-the-pants if need be. Leaders should strive to be bragged about by their employees at happy hour, not the subject of a “screw them” toast.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Culture Cast: Discussing ‘the Learning System’ in Organizations

Personal leadership Podcast


Hey Culture Cast fans! In Season 2, episode 7, Lorne and Lynette discuss (and constructively debate) The Learning System that teaches people how to observe, apply and self-absorb the values of an organization. They go back and forth about certain learning phrases, and plans of action to help improve, reflect and advance an organization’s culture going forward.

Please listen on Soundcloud and iTunes, and don’t forget to rate and review.

If listeners have any questions or thoughts, feel free to email the podcast at As you can see, we’ve started a Q/A series that will be posted every other Wednesday, and will likely be addressed in future podcasts as well. Please feel free to contribute. 

Also, please follow the podcast @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter, and advance the conversation.

Leaders: Connect the Friggin’ Dots

Accountability Purpose Transformation


Key Point: Leaders, stop whining there is too much to do, and start translating and connecting the dots. Most often, it’s NOT that organizations are asking too much. The challenge is that leaders can be better at explaining and linking the initiatives so that they are accessible to all. And team members, get over yourselves and learn this stuff.

Organizations are like layered cakes, and activities flow at every level. Is it possible to have the people in an organization focus on the following elements at the same time?

  • Purpose.
  • Values.
  • Exponential.
  • 10x.
  • Customer obsessed.
  • Growth mindset.
  • Digital competence.
  • Agile.
  • Lean.
  • Engagement.
  • Collaboration.
  • Flow.
  • Transformation.
  • System thinking.
  • Minimal viable products.
  • 85/10/5 consumption.
  • Big data/data science.
  • Silo busting.
  • Cult brands.
  • AI/Machine learning.
  • Cloud.
  • Massive Transformative Purpose.
  • Etc.

The answer is YES, and effective leadership has to TRANSLATE and CONNECT so people at all levels understand the relationships, along with helping people make personal, emotional connections to each concept or initiative, while they do their jobs. It is much more of an inclusive than additive exercise.

The above is hardly an exhaustive list, and my explanation in the appendix below (if you care to read it), is cursory at best. However, understanding and decisively applying each element is VITAL to people in organizations, regardless of industry, location or size.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Leaders: Stop being big babies and complaining about capacity and the challenge of translating/connecting. If it’s too much, go somewhere off the grid and grow cabbage.
  2. Team members: Stop whining about consumption. Be self-accountable enough to absorb and relish ALL (and more). If not, join your pal above in the cabbage patch

Connecting the dots in Personal Leadership,


Appendix – Lorne Rubis brief translation/connection to the list:

In ATB Financial’s case, our purpose is labelled as our Story. Its 94 words outline every single person’s WHY. Our values are described in 10 ATBs. These guide our behaviors and commitment to each other. Everything else translates into and connects to the Story and ATBs. Having a growth mindset, exponentiality and 10x, is a way of thinking and working that addresses personal and organizational behavior as it applies to both innovation and transformation. Exponentiality is defined mathematically, while an MTP outlines a very big idea often tied to exponential technology. Agile and Lean involve both prescriptive methodologies and philosophical mindsets. One needs to be clear whether applying an approach and/or the literal tools (where agile words like sprint/scrums, etc. take on literal meaning). MVP is a very fast product or service that can be rapidly customer tested prior to full production. Being customer obsessed is a strategic intention and can also involve very distinct actions based on customer experience science (like customer journey mapping). Big data and data science involves the application of algorithms and predictive data search. Collaboration includes teaming in advanced ways using visual and connective tools residing in modern productivity/communication platforms like Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s 365. Digital competence includes a digital technology understanding that enables leveraging of advanced digital technology. Flow, systems thinking and silo busting is a way of looking at how an organization works as a connected system rather than disconnected functions (silos). Engagement can be a way of describing how much people feel they can trust and contribute. It can also have a literal meaning like in ATB where it specifically refers to 5,000 people responding to six consistent survey questions. Cloud computing, of course, refers to all data being stored in multiple locations and servers somewhere outside the organization firewall. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are related but different applications of bot technology. 85/10/5 refers to our ability to do daily work and consume new learning expressed in percentage terms. A company becomes a cult brand when its customers feel indispensable loyalty. 

Please add this to the above list to make it more complete and/or accurate.

One Millennial View: No new player has ever been drafted to a sports team and then refused to learn the playbook. This has to be a similar mindset. First of all, you should be going into an interview for the position with an understanding and appreciation for an organization’s mission statement. Incase you squeak through the hiring process without this step, then connecting the dots for yourself is day one stuff. Yeah, it would be helpful if leaders assist with this process, but make a point of doing it yourself. You shouldn’t just do it, you should like it. Or else, I guess people still buy cabbage.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis