The Wake We Leaders Leave Behind

Kindness Organizational leadership Respect Teamwork

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True Story: (NOT from my current organization). An executive runs into her direct report on the elevator and it’s only the two of them going up 10 floors. The team member says a cheerful “good morning,” to her boss. The response from the so called leader… Nothing. She “ghosts” her employee by totally ignoring her. Why? Because she wants the employee to transfer or quit, and doesn’t want to pay severance. This executive somewhere learned that this disrespectful process is somehow a viable technique to restructure a team, or eliminate an employee. One thing this “big” boss did say to this same employee – “well if you lost a few pounds, you might have more energy.” Wow. Even though the details have been altered, I know the essence of the story is true, and a facsimile of this happens in many organizations TODAY.

Key Point: Leaders leave a wake behind them that people remember forever. And as acclaimed poet Maya Angelou famously noted: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. How will people remember you as a leader? How will you make them feel? 

I co-facilitate a leadership session about once a month in our organization. During the workshop, we ask people to talk about leaders that have had a positive or negative impact on them. The conversation immediately ignites and many stories are shared. The stories of leaders are about one positive to five negative. You can feel the heat of the negative stories by observing tears, flushed cheeks, head shaking, shrinking back in chairs, and much more. Often these recounted negative leadership stories are decades old, yet in an instant, the storyteller rapidly descends into the painful emotions of that experience. While the details of the memory may have diminished, the impact never goes away.

Leaders may benefit from being reminded about how much of an impact we have on how people feel. Sometimes we forget and think “it’s just business.” Yet, as we practically know, it’s never just business and ALWAYS personal.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Remind yourself what a privilege it is to lead, and that we have a lasting effect on how people feel (good and bad) under our leadership.
  2. Be intentional in defining your leadership brand. What will your leadership legacy be? One way or another, you will leave a wake behind you.

How you feel in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I appreciate this and hope that leaders do realize they will leave a wake. However, to us Millennials, we should prepare and know that not all of our leaders will be aware or care about this. Bad leaders are going to happen. They just will. The cool part, is you can learn a whole lot about how NOT to lead from a superior doing a terrible job. It’s our job to keep learning no matter what the circumstance.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Wednesday Q/A on Personal Leadership

Growth mindset Organizational leadership

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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. “Lorne, I love the insight and candor you offer in your blog. Do you have any public speaking engagements, or offer any leadership workshops outside of ATB, that people can attend and hear your messages in person?” 

“Thank you. I often speak at outside engagements although most are by invitation and not open to the general public. I hope to do more public speaking in the future. The events are usually listed on my website. Our podcast is also a way to participate with us.  Thanks for your interest.”

2. “Regarding the recent Getting Flatter Than Ever blog, is there a type of new leadership model that you personally prefer more than others? What if the bosses in my organization still practice vertical leadership, and are just fine with that?”

“Your bosses will eventually change because they likely will have little choice. Adaptability and speed to new technology absorption will compel them to flatten. The new, more modern leadership model expects people to be futurists, innovators, technologists and humanists while being strategic and tactical at the same time. Bottom line: Profit only thinking leaders are rapidly going the way of the Dodo bird.”

 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 CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com, or DM us @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter. We look forward to many more, every other Wednesday.

Why Do Organizations Fib?

Accountability Communication Organizational leadership

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Key Point: Why do organizations consistently choose to replace versus helping people adapt and improve? Most companies convince themselves that they want to coach and develop folks based on timely, direct, caring feedback. While well intended, this statement is actually… Ok, I’ll call it as a I see it – an organization fib. I’ve watched this dishonesty thrive over the last 40 years. Why do we too often prefer to fire and hire someone new, rather than have the tough conversations involved in real development coaching?

Maybe you know this person? At some time he/she is designated a “keeper” in the organization, and perhaps even placed on the high potential list (that most companies claim do not exist). They likely even received some company award or recognition along with a number of promotions. Then, somewhere or time, they become very replaceable and are eventually asked to leave the company. Frankly, some of these folks do fail to personally grow, and become complacent, or even entitled. And they probably do need to exit. However, I wonder if leaders become “psychologically lazy” when it comes to really helping people reinvent themselves. The hard truth is that giving meaningful, caring, tough minded feedback is very challenging. Tasha Eurich in her great book, INSIGHT, describes how most people would rather tell a white lie than the painful truth. Hence, too many people think they are doing just fine in a job, even great, and then they get called into that meeting room, where the boss and HR person are sitting with a glum look and a closed folder on the table in front of them. The formerly excellent employee suddenly realizes they’re going to get fired.

I talked to one of these fired people this past week. A month before being dismissed, a review from his/her leader stated that although results were not perfect, things were going in the right direction. The employee’s impression leaving the review, was that overall they were doing ok. My belief: His/her leader was not directly and explicitly frank, and the team member was not very astute reading between the lines. Result: Fired one month later. Could this have been avoided? I think so.  The sad truth is that this person’s replacement will likely be a “star” for a while, and eventually experience the same outcome. Organizations repeat this nonsense too often, and somehow talk themselves into a belief that they are “upgrading the company.” I have my doubts. (We need some more research to test this premise).

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Please, if you’re a leader, be explicit and direct with people reporting to you. Point out where they are doing well with specificity. Where they are not, tell them exactly the behavior that’s out of step. And when they are at risk of losing their jobs, DO NOT SUGAR COAT IT. Tell them that exactly. And then ask them if they understand the situation. No improvement equals no job.
  2. Never assume that what you’ve done in the past is a gateway to future employment. Constantly reinvent, develop yourself and confirm you are meeting or exceeding your leader’s expectations. Ask them directly for that confirmation. Be constructively paranoid (not fearful).

Less fibs in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: The problem with riding on the “no news is good news” philosophy that I believe many Millennials would prefer, is that we are likely not going to be told any bad news before it’s too late. I think there’s a lot of ego and pride with not expecting or asking for any feedback at work. After all, we’re simply just doing our jobs. But when it comes down to your professional livelihood, it might be best to just check and see once in a while how your boss feels about your recent performance. Maybe at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Getting Flatter Than Ever

Abundance Organizational culture Transformation

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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

New Culture Cast Podcasts Coming in April!

Podcast

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Hey Culture Cast fans! 

We’re happy to announce that new Culture Cast podcasts will be coming your way in April! Stay tuned for Season 3! 

In the meantime, if listeners have any questions or thoughts, feel free to email the podcast at CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com. Also, 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.

We’ll be back soon!