A Soulful and Sweet Goodbye

Accountability

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Story: Yesterday an announcement went out to all of ATB Financial, the company I love so much, that I’m retiring effective Aug. 1. Fittingly for me, it is one of the final company-wide announcements from our retiring and beloved CEO, Dave Mowat. And the person who crafted the document was my hugely admired colleague, Peggy Garritty, Chief of Reputation and Brand, who is also retiring. With the support of 5,000 plus teammates, and a superb leadership cohort, we three were given the privilege of helping to create one of the finest work cultures anywhere. It’s been a wonderful ride. And in the best way, the company has been my laboratory. The experiments and learnings have been widely shared through this blog. I have extraordinary respect for the company, and thank ATB for allowing me to write and share freely with readers across the globe. Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey. The accomplishments and extraordinary results over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Key Point: At my first meeting with the human resource committee of the Board, I shared a fictitious story of what team members would be saying, doing, and feeling about the company some five years in the future. (On Aug. 1, I will have been at ATB for six years and five months). One Board committee member did not realize that the story was aspirational; essentially my vision for the state of work and culture ahead. At that time in 2012, we had just come off of a gut wrenching enterprise software implementation, suffered a 10 point drop in our employee engagement score, had demoralized leaders, disappointing financials, poor customer scores, and higher than expected team turnover. I was also given the mandate to reduce our service units’ headcount by more than 200 people without a reputation hit. So, it is understandable why the Board member looked at me, the newbie Chief People Officer, and blurted out: “What the hell is this? I don’t know what you’re describing here, but it sure isn’t us.” Thank goodness other committee members came to my defense, explaining that while perhaps incredulous, it was intended to outline a desired future state. And for the many who have read this story over the years, it is remarkable how much our team members have made this dream very much a reality. Thousands came together to create one heck of a culture; perhaps even a legendary one.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Always write out a narrative of what you hope to achieve. Do not write it out simply as a set of objectives. Tell a story. Ideally, it is a few hundred words filled with aspirational description. You can feel, hear, see, and almost taste the future. People who read it should emotionally connect with it. They may be somewhat doubtful. Yet, they dig the idea and the possibility of it becoming true. This is part of thinking BIG, as I’ve touched on this site many times.
  2. Write and describe your last day on your first day. I shared an email with our CEO, outlining what I hoped people would feel about me on my last day, BEFORE I showed up for work my first day. I have been imperfect, and made mistakes along the way. The ultimate judge of my contribution will be the people of ATB. However, one outcome that is totally my own: My personal lessons learned.

Personal learning from leaving,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I have certainly never heard of a Millennial even dreaming of writing out their last day before starting their first. This is a wise move, and a lesson we’re lucky to be inspired by. I can’t wait to see what else we’ll learn throughout the reflective month of July. I have a feeling none of us are going to retire our blog subscriptions before (or after) Aug. 1.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

And Then There Were 11!

Accountability

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Over the last few weeks, Garrett and I have published a series on values in modern companies, using ATB Financial’s 10 (now 11) ATBs as examples. This is the LAST blog in that series.

Story: I’ve publicly stated with affection, that if you did an autopsy on Dave Mowat, ATBs soon-to-retired CEO, all the ATBs would tumble out. That’s how much he obsessively lives them on a daily basis. With impeccable timing, and as a tribute to his incredible legacy, we have just introduced our 11th ATB. In our organization, this is like adding an 11th commandment; a decision taken very seriously. Here’s an excerpt from his announcement to our company:

“Tomorrow we’ll make an important commitment to ourselves and to each other.

During Live with Rubis, Curtis and I will officially announce the 11th ATB: Courageously be yourself and a true ally for each other.

ATB No. 11 will be an essential part of who we are at ATB, and an essential part of diversity, inclusion, and belonging throughout our organization. It will ensure that each and every team member can bring their authentic selves to work each day.”

Key Point: Companies that thrive and continuously adapt forward are psychologically safe communities. People can show up and bring their full, authentic selves to do work that feels almost like play. They can genuinely be all-in, because the organization, while being imperfect, has the intention to accept and create a sense of true belonging for ALL. It is committed to genuine inclusion. Team members show up to embrace people and their ideas. The subtext of this 11th ATB states:

“Here, success means never having to sacrifice any part of who you are to ‘fit in.’
We stand up to be our most authentic selves, without fear.
We also stand up for others.
Allies find ways to raise people up by having the respect and humility to lean in, listen and learn from one another. Even if it sometimes makes us uncomfortable.
Because through understanding, we create a place where we all belong.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Watch the few very short trailers on ATB’s YouTube Page.
  2. And watch the full video below.
  3.  

Courage in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’ve been fortunate never to be in a work environment where any individuals should feel like they need courage just to present themselves and do their job. And I’ve worked with an extremely eclectic group of people. I hope most have felt inclusion, but for those who may not, strong places like ATB reinforce and reassure with clear culture commandments.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

The Daily Fight Between Abundance and Scarcity

Abundance

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Story: When I published The Character Triangle, some seven years ago, abundance was a relatively new topic. It has been gratifying to see it recently become more mainstream. An abundance mindset flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth, self-compassion and security. It is a framework based on the belief that there is more than enough for everyone. Alternatively, a scarcity mindset is the feeling that there will never be enough, resulting in fear, stress, and anxiety. In my life, while far from perfect at this, I always try to generously give to others based on this very freeing and gratifying way of thinking and acting. It is a privilege to act with abundance on a daily basis.

Key Point: Abundance, as with most values and behaviors, can be learned and practiced. Angelina Zimmerman, in an Inc. article, explains this more thoroughly by outlining the seven main differences between those with a scarcity mindset versus an abundance mindset:

“1. Thinking Big versus Thinking Small.
Those with an abundant mindset are renowned for thinking big, it is part of their DNA. Scarcity mindset creates limitations in the mind which prevents the creation of audacious goals.

2. Plenty versus Lack
Those with an abundant mentality believe there is plenty of everything in the world from resources, love, relationships, wealth and opportunities. They believe they can afford what they want in life and say exactly that: ‘I can afford that…’
Those with a lack mentality prefer to believe that there is limited opportunities, resources, relationships, love and wealth. They consistently say: ‘I cannot afford that…’. Saying that statement every day reinforces the belief and forms that exact pattern in the life as reality.

3. Happiness versus Resentment
Someone with an abundant mentality is an optimist and is genuinely happy for others when they achieve success. Conversely, those with a scarcity mindset are competitive and resent others’ success.

4. Embracing Change versus Fear Of Change
A person with an abundant mindset understands that change is an integral part of life. They embrace and accept change. Appreciating the fact that change often leads to more positive outcomes, even if change is somewhat challenging or difficult to navigate. Fear plagues those with a scarcity mindset. They will spend time constantly complaining along about change and take a longer period of time to accept change.

5. Proactive versus Reactive
Due to the positive attitude of those with an abundant mindset, they take a proactive approach to life. Rather than waiting for things to happen and then reacting like those with a scarcity mindset do, they strategically plan for the future and create strategies for the long-term.

6. Learning versus Knowing It All
An abundance mentality craves learning and growth. They have a never ending thirst for knowledge and developing new skills, whereas scarcity mindset believe they know everything thereby severely limiting their learning and growth.

7. What Is Working versus What Is Not Working
A person with a scarcity mindset selects negative thoughts and adopts a victim mentality.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Just give of yourself without expecting reciprocity. The more you give with generosity of spirit, the more comes back to you in some way, some time. This is even more important when you are feeling like you’re getting the short end of things in life
  2. Forgive those who live in lack and fear. They are plagued with insecurity. Compassionately wish them the best. 
  3. Think big and be big… Always look to expand the pie and share.
  4. Always celebrate others’ successes. Their victories take nothing away from you, even in direct competition. There is always more to gain and learn.

Abundant forever in personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Funny enough, this blog is a little bit of an abundance versus scarcity test within itself. If I noticed that the Inc. article was published in 2016 (more than half a decade after The Character Triangle‘s very similar points), is that scarcity? Instead, I’d like to agree that after years of abundance editing, I too am happy the mindset is becoming more well-known, sought after, and less difficult to define for the mainstream. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Add in More Self-Compassion

Abundance

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Story: This past week, I attended a conference in San Francisco regarding culture in organizations. Great speakers like Adam Grant (Give and Take, Originals, Option B), Susan Cain (Quiet Revolution) and Lindsay McGregor (Primed to Perform) provided much insight around building more advanced cultures. Still, as I listened to many of the conversations around me, perhaps the most important ingredient in making cultures phenomenal was a subplot that has yet to find the “main stage.”

Key Point: In my view, the urgent agenda topic for real cultural breakthrough in organizations is self-compassion. Actually, it may feel counterintuitive or even paradoxical, that in searching for organization “silver bullets,” exponential progress in developing, high performing cultures, accelerates most rapidly from the prerequisite of having a majority of employees with a healthy mindset of deeply caring for oneself first. This provides a solid platform to fully translate this way of thinking to others, and ultimately the organization at large. In support of this, I want to introduce you to Dr. Kristin Neff, in case you haven’t met. The following is her brief explanation:

“Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to ‘suffer with’). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. ‘There but for fortune go I.’

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, you stop to tell yourself ‘this is really difficult right now,’ how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?

Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?

You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.”

I also want to emphasize that self-compassion is NOT self-pity, self-indulgence, self-esteem or misguided self-accountability.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. To assess how much you understand and live with self-compassion, I encourage you take this survey.
  2. Consider investing more in the development of becoming more self-compassionate.
  3. I believe it is very difficult to be truly abundant as a leader without a very well-developed practice of self-compassion. Advancing others starts with evolving oneself first. The genuine capability of inspiring true and sustainable greatness in others depends upon it.

Self-compassion in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Taking the test above was a little eye opening. For me, it’ll take some new learning to help me classify self-compassion differently from self-pity, but the teachings are there. I’m fairly conditioned to be the “stiff upper lip” type, and achieving some sort of self-compassion award won’t happen overnight. But thanks to folks like Dr. Neff, it’s at least a concept I can start thinking about.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Trustless in Seattle and Elsewhere!

Abundance

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This is another blog on our company values (from our 10 ATBs), a series underscoring a more modern look at value driven organizations.

Story: I used to be able to walk on an airplane at the Edmonton Industrial Airport, five minutes before take off. In fact, I wouldn’t even have to buy a ticket because I used pre-purchased flight coupons. Imagine… No security line-ups when flying. Just walk on the plane and go. Then of course, 9/11 changed everything. We could no longer trust the intentions of others when boarding planes, and subsequently built the massive, worldwide security systems we have today. Inspection is always non-value added, yet unfortunately, too often a necessary activity. The risk of complete trust can sometimes be just too high. This situation has cost airlines/passengers trillions of dollars.

Key Point: For more than 40 years, I have been part of many cost-cutting activities. CFOs and/or CEOs, often lead these initiatives and typically end up cutting people. Unfortunately, it’s the easiest line item to attack. Yet rarely can I recall these same execs tackling their biggest cost: Mistrust. But when one thinks about it, the largest waste in almost all companies is based on this value missing in action. Any type of inspection, redundancy, and reporting there of, is costly inefficiency related to mistrust. Just think about how big the opportunity is.

One of our 10 ATBs is to “Trust and expect the same from others.” We know that if each of us works from the premise of trust, we will do our part and minimize non-value added work. Imagine if we could lend money out, and trust that customers would always pay us back? Imagine how different it would be if we didn’t have to physically and metaphorically “lock things up?” How great would it be if the commitments from other teams or departments were always met? Think of what it would be like if we could always be our true, authentic selves, and not hide things from each other because we could trust what others would do with that insight? What if we could say what we truly felt in meetings, not having to worry about how it might be interpreted? On the other hand, trust, as noted in the best selling book, The SPEED of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey, increases speed enormously because non-value added friction/duplication is removed. How great is that? How amazing would it be to work with others where you could genuinely trust first? Why not?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Think about processes, systems, tools, and policies that are based on mistrust. Ask which ones you might eliminate or change? (Base it on data).
  2. Think about where you have added rules for customers or team members because of mistrust. Often, the cost of maintaining these policies is much more than the occasional violation. Challenge the assumptions underlying these rules. 
  3. Make and meet your commitments, and expect the same from others. Trust first, rather than having others preliminarily earn it. Yes, you might occasionally get burned. And perhaps once in a while, you might have to verify. So what? Living without the friction is a much more gratifying path. 

Speed of Trust in Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Unfortunately, I think we can all trust that the utopia of a “trust first” environment is very challenging. I sure know that I don’t want to get “burned,” (literally or figuratively). That said, we have things like TSA Pre, Nexus passes, and tough screening/hiring processes at many companies that give us the ability to prioritize trust over skepticism. Especially for we Millennials, it probably behooves us to lend some speedy trust to our teammates. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

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