Bad Blood at the Top

Resources

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Story: I’m just completing the Institute of Corporate Directors education program and certification, in the spirit of becoming a more effective Board member. It is a very important initiative, and the content vital for any aspiring or current Board participant. And now, more than ever, Directors need to be actively involved regarding setting the right tone at the very top of the company. In parallel, while convalescing from knee replacement surgery, I’ve been doing a lot of watching and reading of material that underlines the importance of active board members promoting total organization integrity. It is startling to be reminded how corrosive and dangerous it is when ethical standards dissolve.

On the Netflix side, I’ve been watching Dirty Money, with the first episode detailing Volkswagen’s corporate deceit. It profiles the alliance between governments and automakers that allowed the company to risk tens of thousands of lives – for the sake of a $500 dollar part. Watching it and understanding how unethical, corrupt and totally misguided corporate executives in collusion with “blind eye” government officials, willingly putting peoples’ well-being and the environment at risk for greed and profit, made me mad. The phrase “defeat device” is now cynically built into our vocabulary. Shame on Volkswagen and others.

From a reading perspective, I’ve been soaking in John Carreyrou’s “Bad Blood, Secret and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.” It’s about the blowout of one of the valley’s hottest startups, Theranos, and their Steve Jobs CEO wannabe, Elizabeth Holmes. Per the New York Times, “Carreyrou tells… A chilling, third-person narrative of how Holmes came up with a fantastic idea that made her, for a while, the most successful woman entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. She cast a hypnotic spell on even seasoned investors, honing an irresistible pitch about a little girl who was afraid of needles and who now wanted to improve the world by providing faster, better blood tests.” The company was a fraud and the products just did not work, risking the lives of thousands of patients and screwing hundreds of investors. It is almost unimaginable that the company, based on essentially old fashioned bait and switch, ascended to 800 employees with a paper valuation over $9 Billion at their peak.

Key Point: In both cases, the Boards and top management were fully responsible for serious harm to people, and massive loss of shareholder value. Great companies genuinely look to advance humankind. Companies, at their very worst, get lost in avarice and greed, while consciously or unconsciously putting humankind at risk for profit and growth. In hindsight, the signals are always there, and shocking to see how the the tone at the top becomes a matter of deteriorating continuous delusion, lying, deceit, and worse. It is a slippery slope when ethical standards become eroded.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Doing the right thing and knowing exactly what behavior that implies, is a vital value set for ALL people in the company. The top of the house needs to model and teach this. Regardless of what level or position, it is critical to continuously discuss and clarify what this value means. There can only be one standard for doing the right thing.
  2. I continuously endorse a psychologically safe environment, where people can “talk back.” (Read Bad Blood to get a picture of the opposite).
  3. Make sure there is a robust, working “whistle blowing” system, just in case. The reputation of the brand and well-being of people involved with the organization must come first. The tone is always set at the top.
  4. Watch for a breakdown in small matters of integrity. This is often a precursor to much worse.

No Bad Blood in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Sometimes I roll my eyes at the basic and buzz-word splattered mission statements/values of some organizations. They can look like someone just Googled “What Makes Good Company Sound Gooder,” copied and pasted it. While that bland effort can lack flavor, creativity, and a uniquely inspiring, attractive perspective for a workplace… Heck! It’s a whole lot better than anywhere that has misplaced or lost core values and integrity. Knowing right versus wrong is most important. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Fight For Each Other and Against Indifference!

Books Resilience Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Update: Please check out our new Rubis And Friends podcast, and subscribe to the YouTube channel. Future podcasts will be broadcast live, every Sunday at 4 p.m. Mountain Time! (With the recorded episode uploaded the following day). 

Story:The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.” That is a famous quote by the late Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, a Romanian-born, American-Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including “Night,” a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, where he lost his parents and younger sister. Sadly, his charitable foundation and personal estate were also victimized financially by the scandalous Bernie Madoff. However, as with every other incredible life challenge experienced, the venerable Wiesel shrugged it off and took us all to a higher plain of understanding regarding the human condition. If you want a greater insight into Wiesel the humanist, listen to this podcast with Oprah.

Key Point: The reason I connect Wiesel to the world of organization culture and leadership is a tribute to his prime message, which goes far beyond the eternal horror of the holocaust. Wiesel’s most urgent plea was to guard us against INDIFFERENCE. And there are many emerging forces that can feel beyond our reach and make indifference more seductive.

Based on the premise above, I strongly urge you to read Yuval Noah Harari’s powerful new book, 21 Questions for the 21st Century. The author notes: “My new book will aim to answer the overarching question: what is happening in the world today, what is the deeper meaning of these events and how can we individually steer our way through them? The questions I aim to explore will include what the rise of Trump signifies, whether or not God is back, and whether nationalism can help solve problems like global warming.”

Bill Gates reviews Harari’s book in this past Sunday’s New York Times, offering this assessment: “What does Harari think we should do about all this? Sprinkled throughout is some practical advice… Life in the 21st century demands mindfulness – getting to know ourselves better and seeing how we contribute to suffering in our own lives. This is easy to mock, but as someone who’s taking a course on mindfulness and meditation, I found it compelling.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. More than ever, as we see this disruptive convergence between Artificial Intelligence and Bio Science turn every assumption about work and living upside down, each of us must actively engage in the process of creating cultures and workplaces we desire! (And when you read “21 Questions,” it will make you shake your head a little).
  2. We cannot allow avoidance and indifference to become our default position in a world where the rich technological “haves” overwhelm the rest of us as the “have nots.” We all have a voice, and deeply caring about each other as people first will help us find the best paths forward!

No Indifference in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Interesting. I think we’d be lying if we were to say it wasn’t easy to be indifferent about many things. That said, I think it plays to the respect aspect of this blog to give due attention what we are indifferent about, ask ourselves why, and revisit the question. 

– Garrett

 

Introducing the ‘Rubis And Friends’ Podcast

Abundance Accountability Podcast Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

 

Lorne Rubis’ life purpose is advancing people and the workplace through leadership and culture. He has spent his career making this happen and was recently awarded the Ivey Academy, Ivey School of Business Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to these topics in Canada and beyond. Join him and friends as they take an unvarnished look at what’s going on in the workplace today. Become a better leader and contributor by listening to the podcast and even joining us live when you can. And have a few laughs too.

In this episode, Lorne Rubis and friends discuss keeping our original parts, and explore the idea of microdosing. Please stay tuned for future weekly episodes, and subscribe to the Rubis And Friends YouTube channel for more! 

Thank you! 

 

Fake 5 Star Customer Commitment?

Abundance Accountability Respect

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Story: Whataburger (primarily located throughout the state of Texas) is not really different from hundreds of fast food burger places. It is arguably a wee bit unique in a few small ways (e.g. sauce selection), but if you lined up Whataburger’s food and facilities by any number of comparisons, it would be nothing unusual or remarkable. What I’ve experienced to be very different though, is the people and service side. I have received more attention at a Whataburger than many five star restaurants. From the greeting, to the table delivery, to the goodbye, there is intentional personal connection between Whataburger staff and the customer.

According to Carmine Gallo’s great book, Five Stars, there are only 150 or so Forbes’ 5 star rated hotels world wide. One of them is the Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Every single employee is taught to make personal, emotional connections with customers through the following non-negotiable basics:

  1. Get the customer’s name right! The customer is not a room number.
  2. Beat the great! The employee ALWAYS initiates the conversation with the customer.
  3. Anticipate customer needs. Put yourself directly in the customer’s shoes and anticipate what they might need or want.
  4. Daily storytelling! Share stories openly, and DAILY with ALL employees regarding how executing on one to three above makes an incredible difference.

When customers rave about The Sanctuary Hotel, they rarely comment about the thread count of the sheets, menus, and other so-called differentiators. Rather, they talk about way people treated them primarily by flawlessly executing on 1-3 above. Getting ALL people behaving this way is basic, but not easy. It takes relentless, focused leadership.

Key Point: How the heck can it be so hard to execute on the above described by Sanctuary? My experience is that it’s not that difficult, but most leaders don’t have the focus and/or conviction to make it so. They have x strategic initiatives, x sales objectives, x new technology and processes to introduce, x shiny new programs to chase. And rather than being 100 percent consistent and laser-focused on customer tuned basics, they are scooting around after so many things. They inadvertently have their employees jumping from one activity to another. Hence, there is little or no consistent and/or differentiating customer experience that truly feels top rate. My conclusion is that this is actually a conscious choice. Most service companies talk a good deal, but have no intention of fully committing to building in that WOW experience. All hat and no cattle, as the saying goes, is a lot less self-accountable.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be honest. Really decide from the top if you want to declare focused, non-negotiable, differentiating behavior that can make you five star with customers.
  2. If you really want to, declare the specific expectations like The Sanctuary, and then be explicit at every level of customer intersection. No distractions. These basics must always be first!
  3. Just don’t aspire to be five Star with a three Star effort. It’s fake customer service.

Five Stars in Personal Leadership  

Lorne

One Millennial View: First of all, those are fightin’ words regarding Whataburger being just like “hundreds” of other burger joints. But, you’re right regarding the importance of the customer experience. It seems to me that sometimes when something is so simple, it can get overlooked. Just like how some people can overlook Whataburger started as a burger stand in 1950 Corpus Christi, and now remains family owned with 800 restaurants spanning from Arizona to Florida. Whataburger wouldn’t treat anyone differently for not knowing that. They’d probably just say “bless your heart.”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Oxy Dreams While Convalescing

Resources

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Story: I’m a week into my knee replacement and on “Oxycodone,” the notorious pain reliever probably found in far too many medicine cabinets worldwide (but that’s another blog topic). Frankly, I’m recovering better because of its benefits AND I’m looking forward to getting completely off the drug this coming week. Besides helping me with pain though, it’s been giving me some entertaining if not bizarro dreams. The following is the essence of one my “trips” during a goofy afternoon snooze.

Leaders from around the world, and all types of organizations are “kidnapped” by my gang. The only way the captives can be released is when each of them answers the following questions correctly. The passing grade is 100 percent. Close doesn’t count. (In my dream, my persona is James Bond like, haha).  I throw the prisoners in their cells and shove a questionnaire in front of them (Geez… Old school). I announce myself as their captor and insist they get the following right:

  1. Write out out the names of the partners of each of your direct reports. Note if they do not have partners, moms and dads.
  2. If your direct reports have kids, identify how many and what ages.
  3. Pets? What kind?
  4. In the last 12 months, name at least three people working for you that you have helped get promotions or take on bigger assignments.
  5. Name the last three people you gave some form of recognition to in the last week, and why.
  6. For each of your direct reports, what is some favorite non-work hobby or activity they do for fun?
  7. Outline the one thing you are working on to be a better leader, based on the feedback of your direct reports.
  8. Get a 100 percent match between you and direct reports on the top objective of the team over the next 12 months.
  9. Describe one of the happiest or saddest moments in the life of each of your direct reports.

In my “Oxy Dream,” most  leaders struggle to get the answers and begin to panic . They get only one phone call every day to get the answers completed, and are confined until they achieve a perfect score.  A few leaders are sprung immediately. They really know their teams and have made personal emotional connections with each member .

Key Point: Leif Babin, former Navy Seal instructor and co-author of Extreme Ownership, points out, based on tons on Navy research, that there are no bad teams, just bad leaders. Leadership is the distinguishing difference to team performance. Great leaders with intention, personally know and connect with their direct reports. Yet, I doubt the expectation or need for superb leaders to be able to answer the above nine questions are in many leadership books, or in the MBA curriculum of post secondary institutions. I think they should be!

I kind of chuckled after waking up and thinking about the dream. It was quite colorful in retrospect. The kidnapped leaders were in a third world jail cell, and were of course wearing black and white prison suits. I guess in my drug induced mind, leaders who do not really know and personally connect with their direct reports are metaphorical criminals.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Pick one leader in your organization to put in metaphorical jail. How long before they get out?
  2. Put yourself in that jail. How do you do? Better get those answers ASAP.
  3. Stay off Oxy unless you really need it.

Staying out of Leadership jail in Personal Leadership,

Lorne Rubis

One Millennial View: Wow, I have to admit I didn’t think I’d be responding on this blog about a dream induced by “hillbilly heroin,” (actually, that’s OxyContin I think. Similar but different)… Still, that’s pretty fascinating. Truthfully, those nine questions would be simple to be able to answer with a little casual conversation over time, but of course that’s too big of a pill to swallow for some leaders. A lot bigger than Oxycodone, at least.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis