The Batsh*t Chapter

Respect

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Story: “I’ve never met the CEO of the company I worked at before, let alone taken a selfie with him or her.” “That’s the first time I’ve ever had a conversation with someone at the VP level.” “I can’t believe the CEO actually responded to my suggestion when I emailed.” Those are the comments I hear when the CEO of our company and VPs spend a day with our new hires. We are only 5,000 plus people, so it’s easier in comparison with very large companies. Still, it’s amazing how aloof execs are with the core of the institutions they lead.

Key Point: When you put away the fancy spreadsheets, and big price tag consulting fees from smart “kids” with Ivy MBAs (who usually have never run or built anything), it always comes down to people first. Tom Peters, with his colleague Bob Waterman, wrote the iconic “In Search of Excellence,” in 1982. After 50 years studying organizations, he has published a definitive book called the “The Excellence Dividend.” It has a chapter on people that he privately calls his “batsh*t chapter.”  Why? Because it drives him batsh*t crazy that leaders just don’t get that people must come first. Here are some of his key points:

  1. “It’s people who do the work.
  2. It’s people who make the customer connection scintillating or sour.
  3. It’s people that matter— as individuals as much or more than service providers.
  4. So your brand is your talent!
  5. People before strategy.
  6. Treat your employees like customers.
  7. If you want your staff to give great service, give great service to your staff.
  8. Your customers will never be happier than your employees.
  9. Business has to give people enriching rewarding lives or it’s simply not worth doing.
  10. Leadership function is to produce more leaders not more followers.
  11. Employees are the first customers and most influential.
  12. If you want to wow your customers, first you must wow those that wow the customers.
  13. Don’t hire jerks, or shitheads.
  14. Treat hiring and promotions as life and death decisions.
  15. Develop and train the heck out of people constantly and expect them to develop and  train themselves accordingly.”

Ok, these are just a few of Tom’s passionate perspectives on people, and I mostly support every one of his views.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Stop the merry-go-round regarding who is really first. Double down on People First. If the soul of the organization does not commit and believe in people first, customers and the shareholders ultimately will languish.
  2. Honestly ask why your or any organization may not put people first. What observations do you make? Then, determine what you will do to address the issues raised. Start where you have control.

No Batsh*t in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Think about that show “Undercover Boss.” The whole premise is that CEOs, while disguised, infiltrate their own companies to essentially check off Peters’ 15 points listed above. The disconnect is entertaining enough for a reality show, but flourishing organizations with strong connections between exec teams and the core workers aren’t negatively interesting enough to be featured. If you’re never approached to be on Undercover Boss, that’s likely a compliment. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Creating Magical Moments

Empathy Productivity Respect

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Story: I spend a lot of time talking to execs across a wide variety of industries. Frankly, most of my conversations involve well-intended ideas from leaders who genuinely care, yet are afflicted with exceptionally lousy execution regarding what really matters to employees and customers. We have become so good at wanting to do everything, that we often end up not doing much of anything that really matters. It’s kind of like “participation awards” gone wild. Still, people feel like they are working harder than ever with capacity stretched to the limit. Why are things so goofed up?

Key Point: Be aware when activity and effort become the key measures, versus meaningful results for customers and employees. This often means that “trying” and “working hard” become the default outcomes. Another signal that effort and outcome might be out of sync, is when the same customer and/or employee complaints continue year after year. Or, when there is little growth in revenue from existing customers, while there is an imbalanced effort in finding new ones. High customer and employee turnover is also a big red flag. That’s where making meaningful choices so the team/company can get big results on what I call “magical moments that really matter,” comes into this blog.

Every employee and customer (stakeholder) is on an evolving journey with an organization. Today, with the benefit of big data, we have the ability to dissect and fully understand that continuous journey right down to a customer/team member of ONE. The sustainable, highly adaptive and leading organizations will constantly focus almost all of the resources on the “magical moments that really matter.” It’s that easy and that hard.

As an example, every person has a first day/week at work. There is an opportunity to make that very moment “magical” for every new employee. Research has shown that the entry success into a company can have a huge impact on speed to positive contribution and employment longevity. How well does your organization manage that key moment?

Another example, is what happens with customer greetings (“I know you and see you”) every time they connect with the company. What powerful way does your organization impact the way customers connect EVERY time? Focus on these and other differentiating moments, and the magic does happen. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Courageously confront your daily activity. Without being defensive, examine who really cares, and what difference to end user customers or people does your work make?
  2. Do not rest on the idea that you get a lot of recognition for your effort or hard work. That actually may get you out of a job faster if you’re not making a difference to the moments that matter.
  3. Challenge yourself and the organization to prioritize the moments that magically matter, and use data rather than opinion. And not every moment is equal. Spend your time on the ones that really, really, really matter. I know you can.

Magical moments in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’d be willing to bet that most Millennials have experienced little to no Magical moments. We know not to “expect” too much, because we don’t want to be perceived as over entitled. That also means our standards are incredibly low. When your friend’s company’s “Taco Friday” sounds way too good to be true, then the magic in your place of work is Hocus Bogus.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

50 Years New!

Growth mindset Purpose Respect

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Story: She started with our company in 1968 when she was 17-years-old, and will soon be celebrating a 50 year anniversary, our longest tenured employee. Her parents literally wanted her to stay on the family farm. Instead, she applied one of the most important principles that thriving people do; she respectfully chose to live the life she desired rather than what others wanted for her.

Key Point: Out of consideration for her privacy, I will not share personal details. However, I would like to outline some of her (let’s call her Gloria) lessons from a journey of 50 years:  

  1. Be totally positive, and honestly realistic. Most situations, and almost every day has a bright side if you learn to frame it that way. Who wants to work with negative, cynical people?
  2. Embrace change and learn to love it. Actively seek it out. When you reflect on what change most often involves, it is much better than the status quo. Individuals and organizations have a responsibility to continuously move forward.
  3. Be an intentional, constant learner, continuously adding to your expertise, social/emotional skills, and be fearless in trying new things. This is tied to No. 2 above. Do NOT be complacent and think you’ve “gone as far” as you need to. If you stop, you will be left behind.
  4. Have fun every day. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living. Live the life you want in the present, rather than just hoping for a better state in the future.
  5. Whatever you do, when you put others first, things usually turn out for the best. Learn to keep your ego in check.
  6. If you’re a leader, commit to developing others first and do not make it all about yourself. Gloria’s best leaders have behaved this way.
  7. Have enough room in your life for that “convertible hot car” or something that makes life more fun.
  8. Be humble enough to do what needs to be done to move the organization, or the team forward. During her career Gloria has done everything from janitorial work to sophisticated financial advising. Roll up one’s sleeves and make things happen by taking on tough problems, and keeping the customer first .
  9. Failing at something does not mean one is a failure. Moving forward includes having the courage to get things done, with the understanding that one is going to goof up along the way. Get up, jump in the convertible, and accelerate to the next destination.
  10. When you do the above, 50 years zip by… Like 1968 was just yesterday. And more importantly, you will be driving down a highway that is always going forward. More often than not, the road is one worth taking.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. It is unlikely any of our readers will spend 50 years at one company. Nevertheless, Gloria’s lessons apply to us all. They are retro and modern at the same time. You have likely heard all of Gloria’s advice before. The question to ask yourself is, do you really live/work this way?

Riding with Gloria in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s a reason Millennials seek guidance and advice from people like Gloria. It’s true wisdom that can’t really be achieved from a newage textbook, podcast, or YouTube video. Thanks to her great service and willingness to share valuable insight, we’re lucky enough to get a true education 50 years in the making.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Pick Up the Trash!

Contribution Personal leadership Respect

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Story: John Wooden, UCLA’s former men’s basketball coach, is arguably the most legendary hall of famer in the NCAA. One amazing thing about Wooden was his reputation for humility. He was already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player, and had an amazing run as a coach (10 National Championships, seven in a row). And what did he do daily? Picked up the trash in the locker room. Why? It was the right thing to do, and modeled the behavior he expected from his players.

Key Point: “Muscle humility”, a term coined by Daniel Coyle, author of the recently released The Culture Code, tells story after story outlining how service driven leaders literally and figuratively pick up the trash as a way of setting the tone for all. A few examples:

  1. There are stories of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who would literally pick up discarded fast food trash every night from the street gutters near a McDonald’s franchise. 
  2. The famous rugby team, The New Zealand All Blacks, have a team value called ”sweeping the Sheds.” The leaders do the menial work, cleaning the locker room and modeling the ethic of togetherness and oneness. (Btw the All Blacks simple but straightforward hiring policy: “NO Dickheads”).  
  3. At the company I work for, we expect each other to clean up after ourselves when we have meetings. Why would we want to have someone else do that for us? 
  4. As part of the interview process for new recruits, some organizations provide an opportunity for prospects to demonstrate how thoughtful and mindful they are about others, by observing how they dispose of what they used post coffee/lunch.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Great and imperfect leaders serve others and recognize it is a privilege to do so. The idea that “Leaders Eat Last” is not an empty metaphor. Rather, as underscored in Simon Sinek’s book of the same title, it is a core value. Be one of those leaders! Be one of those team members!
  2. Picking up the trash frames up the idea that no job is too menial or dirty for any position or title. If you were the CEO of a bank, walked into an area where the ATM machines were housed, and saw the place was a mess, what would you do? I know and have seen what a great CEO does. He cleans up the area. People tell stories of ATB Financial’s CEO Dave Mowat doing just that.

Muscle humility in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I was thinking the other day, one of my least favorite things I’ll hear a co-worker say is, “well, that’s not my job.” 1. Duh. Everyone knows what your job responsibilities usually entail. 2. I’m not suggesting a marketing intern should step in for the legal or accounting team, but that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s usually a small favor to just make things run smoother. Like shutting down a teammate’s computer at the end of the day for them because they forgot. Sometimes “trash” is also just loose ends here and there… One day, you’ll leave a loose end too, and it’s cool if your fellow trash-picker-uppers have your back. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis 

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