Shaking and Rumbling Before the Breakthrough

Abundance Be Abundant

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

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

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

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

Ban All “Just A” Jobs!

Abundance Be Abundant Contribution Management

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Key Point: Every role and job in every organization is vital. There is no room for what I call “just a” type jobs. Of course, some jobs pay better than others for a variety of reasons. However, from a company’s “brand” perspective, every job counts big time.

Many of my readers know I work in the financial services sector. In our retail business, we have a frontline customer-facing position called a CSR (Customer Service Rep). When we first held Culture Days (our on-boarding event for new hires), as people introduced themselves, some might say, “I’m JUST a CSR.” As the exec sponsor and facilitator, I would politely intervene; asking the CSR to take out “just a.” Why? This position creates the brand impression for our company due to the number of customers they touch each day and every minute. It is an essential and vital role! You and I see this at other workplaces daily. For example: The coffee barista, bus driver, receptionist, call center person, flight attendant, waiter, etc. Regardless of what companies advertise as their brand, the real brand “smell test” starts when we interact with the frontline customer-facing folks. How could we afford to have anyone of these people see himself or herself in “just a” job?

I remember when I first became the Chief People Officer of the company in 2012, and attended one our prescheduled on-boarding sessions. I sat down at a random table for lunch, and asked people why they joined the company. The very first response came from a CSR and it was, “my mom wanted me out of the house.” “Holy cow” is the politest response that immediately came to mind. I had to squeeze hard to keep my inner voice under control. If this is how we recruit for our customer facing positions, we had huge work to do. And we did. As a result, we are at a much better and different spot today. Every role is vital, and direct customer-facing ones, even more so.

Character Moves:

  1. As a leader, it is your job to make sure every role is a vital one based on the impact to customers and other teammates. Ban “just a” jobs. Help every person in every role connect to the organization’s purpose.
  2. As a team member, you also have a responsibility to connect to your company’s purpose and to act as if you matter… Because you do. Think big. Be big. Do not “mail it in,” as the saying goes. 
  3. Have the highest standards of recruiting for every position including “dishwasher.” Do not let anyone in just to fill for “just a” job. Unless, of course, you do not care about your brand.

No “just a’s” in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: I’m sure some Millennials might be told by peers or even society that their position is “just a” job. You can see how that’d be an easy mindset to trap yourself in, especially if you’re still searching for a position that fully utilizes your earned skillsets, or find yourself between jobs and needing to pay bills with work you’re overqualified for. But, I suppose that’s when you have to lend a nice middle-finger to anyone who tries to knock you down a peg, and believe that anything you do that (legally) keeps the lights on is something to find pride in.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Evangelist Phenomena

Abundance Be Abundant Change Organizational leadership

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Key Point: We may need to reinvent the way we engage teams to create “movements” within organizations. The company I work for made a commitment to move our productivity and communication application platform to Google’s G Suite. In order to transform the institution, we knew we had to reimagine and work in profoundly better ways, with much better, more modern tools. This included applying a software tool set that facilitated the full democratization of networked ideas, imagination and contribution. While we already had a culture that honored collaboration, connectivity and engagement, we knew that we needed a platform to accelerate innovation and exponential results. This called for a “movement” to cause a work renaissance that we branded as “Work Reimagined!”

A dedicated team of leaders assigned to this movement created a mini transformative purpose (mTP) that included: “Freeing and unleashing the ideas and contribution of 5,000 plus people, with the outcome of creating a work revolution to drive an exponential transformation of the company in making our Story (purpose) true.” We then created three major phases to fully engage all 5,000 team members: “Ignite and Listen,” “Excite and Discover,” and “Adopt and Master.” Each phase was populated with numerous tactics that will be further elaborated on in another blog. Additionally, we knew we needed a network of team members that would evangelize and propel the movement. Hence the birth and rise of our now famous “G Evangelists.”

Over a five-day period, we invited all 5,000 team members to “audition” for the G Evangelist role, which essentially asked for their commitment to become a spark for the Work Reimagined movement. While we outlined a role description, it essentially asked potential candidates to be willing to participate in a 30 day boot camp (starting two weeks after selection), commit to fully learn G Suite, help the company journey through the three stages noted above, and then be open to support assignments after. We told them NOT to seek approval from their next up manager, and promised, with the CEOs support, that we would clear the forward passage for any successful candidates. The response from the team community was incredible, and the sub-team leading this recruitment and selection process was remarkable. My following description will underwhelm the profoundly powerful outcome of this initiative. However, these are the highlights:

  1. Thousands of team members expressed interest.
  2. Over 300 people auditioned with the most creative applications imaginable. 
  3. Over 200 interviewed, and a final 50 were selected (we could have hired 300 exceptional team members).
  4. The 50 represented the most inclusive slice of the company possible; what proved to be a perfect blend 
  5. They came together as an inseparable cohort through the boot camp, and created a fiercely connected community to lead our movement: True G Evangelists.
  6. They have become teachers, coaches, experts, and facilitators (both individually and collectively), filled with deep knowledge and empathy.
  7. We have just entered the “Adopt and Master” phase, and to some extent their work is just beginning. 

While the jury regarding the long term effectiveness of the G Evangelist cohort is still out, so far the learning involves the extraordinary superhero powers of a self-nominated/carefully selected group of inclusive team members from all levels, positions, geography, generation, background, tenure, etc. to fully connect, collaborate and contribute. The learning content and boot camp facilitation was genius, even magical. And the groups’ road trip to Google HQ and Singularity was highly impactful. Further study and research on the effectiveness of these troops will likely reveal other insights. In the meantime, it is absolutely clear the G Evangelist 50 are leading the Work Reimagined movement with almost super human energy. Their momentum has created peer-to-peer flow, and the conditions for the work renaissance we are “star shooting” for. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you’re a leader, experiment with the idea of selecting a cohort of self-nominated, passionately committed people to sprint (outside of their day-to-day job) for a short period of time on a focused challenge. They will likely amaze you with their ability to get results; probably in highly inventive, even 10x ways. Give them the support and air cover to fully connect, collaborate and contribute without interference from upper management or other distractions. Expect greatness not sameness from participants, and they will deliver.
  2. As a team member, look to raise your hand and get involved in addressing gnarly problems and/or initiatives you have deep passion for. If your leadership is timid, find like-minded “Evangelists” and get s#!* done anyways! What are you waiting for? What have you really got to lose?  

Evangelists in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Wow, what an impressive project! My favorite part is the “if your leadership is timid, find like-minded ‘Evangelists,’ and get s#!* done anyways.” That is just plain always an option, no matter what you’re doing, and it’s applicable to more things in life than just work. An extra “to-do?” You bet. But, c’mon, if you’re a regular reader of this blog then you know what you should/can do. Let’s make it happen.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Just Friggin’ Dance

Abundance Be Abundant Culture Team

FlipboardTwitterLinkedInFacebook

Key Point: I think one of the benchmarks of great company culture is when an entire group of people regardless of connection, age, tenure, gender, affiliation, etc. has the ability to literally dance with each other. I have been part of at least five great cultures in my career, and that has been one key common component – We have loved to dance in each other’s company. I’m actually talking about flat out arms flailing, spinning, twirling, unabashed dancing. Often, singing at the top of our lungs too.

I’m hardly a great dancer. However, there is something magical, even surreal, when a team puts on the tunes (perhaps too loudly) and just lets loose on the dance floor. I think I like it so much because we have to be vulnerable. We get to unravel a little, and that puts us on a level playing field. How glorious it is. 

I don’t sponsor any event that doesn’t involve music. It moves us, and because we are verbs, I think it feeds us like oxygen. All of us have something inside us that makes us want to move and music/dancing sets us free. I put no judgment on the folks sitting on the sidelines. Sometimes part of enjoying the dance is in the people watching. That is adding to the experience too. We all embrace dance in different ways. 

My last team was notoriously badass for dancing. Our annual conference post-dinner dance is legendary. I loved heading to my hotel room, mopping the sweat off my head after a couple of hours of just flat out grooving. There is something cathartic about the freedom, autonomy, trust, and self-confidence that is unleashed through dance. 

I’m writing about this because corporate life must involve huge amounts of fun. And when leaders let go and show their true, goofy, authentic self, then good things happen. Freeing ourselves sets others in the culture free. I know sometimes when I’m lost in my total “dance,” the music pulsating through me, I look like a “fool.” Maybe people are laughing at me? I do NOT care! The freedom… The authenticity… The movement… My letting go in pure, sweet joy, is most important!

Character Moves:

  1. Just close your eyes and dance… Play loud music every chance you get. Let go and have fun. Be real. 
  2. Consciously make music part of everything. It makes a difference. More importantly, have the courage to get up and dance your ass off. Like I always say, you’re worth it! 

Dancing in the Triangle,

Lorne

P.S. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask my last team. I’m betting testimonials appear. They make me happy!!

One Millennial View: For my money, there’s one true inspiration for the perfect way to get after a dance floor… (Other than Dad, of course…) Here it is:

If anyone finds a “Dan Aykroyd School of Dance,” let me know.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis