Great Leaders Are Great Storytellers

Key Point: If you want to inspire team members, you have to make a personal, emotional connection. One of the key competencies of great leaders is the ability to have team members emotionally relate to a desired future state; ideally a massive transformative purpose (MTP). People literally have to feel, see, and use other senses to “picture” milestones along the way. Data or other so-called points of factual evidence are not sufficient. Emotion needs to be involved. Hence, great leaders are great storytellers. 

Christine Comaford, of the SmartTribes Institute, recently posted an exceptional infographic outlining why leaders need to be great storytellers. Please invest in carefully reviewing and learning from it. See below:

Character Moves:

  1. Every day you have a storytelling opportunity to advance yourself, team, and/or organization. How do you rate on the CURVE model? (Thank you SmartTribes Institute).
  2. Become an intentional storyteller by practicing the CURVE story model. It takes practice, practice, practice. And the end result is: Did you move others to take positive forward action? If not, you’re an entertainer at best and vanilla pudding at worst. Be a more impactful leader by becoming a practiced storyteller. 

Great CURVE in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: This CURVE model is fantastic, especially when it comes to the effects on brain activity, specifically neural coupling and dopamine. A Millennial’s biggest concern at work may just be losing that “thrill,” and slipping into a state of mindlessness that takes away any emotional desire to compete… Oops, we woke up 20 years later and still haven’t progressed. That’s terrifying. That’s surely not the story I want to tell, and it would be beneficial to learn from great leaders who need us to contribute in developing invigorating chapters as soon as possible.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Become a Connection Master

Key Point: How many connection points do you have with people you want to advance a relationship with? How do you begin your communication with anyone? Do you start at a connection point and go from there? 

The first time I went to Seoul, South Korea, I was there to work on a consortium between three U.S. companies and a local Korean partner. Shortly after our plane touched down, we gathered with our teams in a hotel meeting room. Our Korean hosts were gracious and well organized. A team of four to five subject matter experts accompanied each CEO. The president of the Korean company then announced without any advanced notice, that the working teams were going to immediately work on our proposal (due at the end of the week), but the plans were different for the four CEOs. Hmm… Ok. So the four of us were shuffled off to an awaiting car, which to our surprise took us to one of Seoul’s most famous spas. No swimming trunks required. Oh, geez. 

Within an hour, we were stripping down to our birthday suits, led from one spa pool to another (some with unusual color… like green tea). This included different types of spa stations (hot rocks, etc.). The four of us knew each other to various degrees from previous meetings and phone calls, however, our Korean hosts made sure we now knew exactly what we looked like without our CEO “uniforms;” just four dumpy, wrinkled, old guys sitting naked in a pool… The last one with water temp at 59 degrees F; our final indignity. (I apologize if this image is causing readers nausea, lol). In retrospect, the strategy of our Korean hosts, while very uncomfortable at first, was quite clever. We needed to be transparent, open, and didn’t have much time to get to a trusting relationship. Getting naked together, while highly unusual for us westerners, helped us get there in a hurry. I wish I could tell you we won the bid. Unfortunately, the RFP (request for proposal) was withdrawn before we could fully compete. However, the four companies had become a team of one very quickly, and I liked our chances if we could have presented our bid. 

Having an emotional connection point is something we teach and encourage as a gateway process in all team and individual learning/development in our company. With anyone we want to advance our relationship (customer, teammate, outside stakeholder), we encourage finding a connection point BEFORE getting into content. It might be as simple as exchanging a smile, remembering names, common circumstances, etc. This applies whether face-to-face, video, voice or text. We want people to connect FIRST. The message is, “I see you,” and “I want you to see me.” After establishing genuine contact, we can really begin to listen to each other. 

Character Moves:

  1. Establish an intentional connection strategy with everyone you want to advance a relationship with. As a real life metaphor, try applying this with strangers that you share the road with. When you see the other car trying to switch lanes, why not graciously let them in front of you? Your action says, “I see you.” How does it work for you when you ignore them, or worse? Present them with your middle finger?
  2. Watch the very best connectors; They have a smile, eye contact, a way of finding a common ground, even when it’s something benign as the weather. The very best are masters regardless of the medium. They remember details, and invest in the bridges between you and them. And we need those bridges to “walk back and forth” on. How else do we begin to really listen and empathize with each other if we do not have a connection point and some emotional place to start from?
  3. The very best communicators are humble and confident enough to recognize the need to advance all relationships, including with those in less advantageous situations and even so called “enemies.” A connection point, however small, begins a bridge and where there is a bridge, however fragile, there is the hope of getting to a better place. 

Master connector in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: When I recently heard that temperatures in Arizona would reach around the 120 degree F mark, a part of me got a little jealous. That type of heat, however miserable, brings a connection between you and everyone else experiencing it. When you burn your hand on a steering wheel, and when your ChapStick liquefies, you can silently pass anyone else in a parking lot and you each give each other the “holy $#!*, is it hot” look. It’s a cool experience, and then whatever meeting you may have with the sweet, sweet relief of air conditioning will automatically be so much better.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Evangelist Phenomena

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

Hiking Through the Happiness Fog

Key Point: “Mood drives performance.” That’s the deep belief of Jim Moss, a Hall of Fame, gold medal-winning, pro athlete who in 2009 was suddenly rendered acutely paralyzed from a rare autoimmune disease. It is a well-documented story, recounted in numerous publications. With the possibility of living the rest of life in a vegetative state, Jim hacked his own healing, focused on being grateful and learning the science of mood and performance (neuroplasticity). He walked out of the hospital six weeks later. Inspired and profoundly motivated by this experience, Moss went on with his partner Jennifer to co-found Plasticity Labs. Their Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) is to give one billion people the tools to live a happier, healthier and high-performing life; to scale happiness globally, by building the first ever, mental health and happiness platform

So what is happiness? As Jennifer Moss, co-founder of Plasticity notes in a recent blog: “I still don’t know. But I believe it can be experienced. Like fog, it’s around us. We can see it. But, when we try to hold on to it – it slips through our fingers. Happiness is about a continued investment in building hope, efficacy, resilience, optimism (HERO), along with gratitude, mindfulness, and empathy. As we dig deeper into the ways we can build up more psychological fitness, we’ll analyze how to build up these traits in ourselves and inspire them in others. For many, happiness means the absence of negative emotions, but in the article, I wrote for Harvard Business Review, ‘Happiness Isn’t the Absence of Negative Emotions;’ I vehemently counteract the belief that being happy is only to feel joy, every minute, every day, all the time. I wrote the article to share my frustrations with the backlash on the Positive Psychology movement. After reading one too many articles about why happiness is harmful, I decided it was time to confront the naysayers. But what I believe about this brief history of happiness, is that it’s not about chasing pleasure, but rather, actively engaging in long-term, sustainable life goals that include daily investments in positive work, activities and relationships. However, I liken models to recipes – it’s subjective and rife with human variables built on strongly held biases, genetics and personal experience. Just like a recipe can’t guarantee your bread will rise, a happiness theory can’t guarantee you will be happy.”

So what? I work for a company that believes “good things happen when you pursue happiness.” It is an essential part of our purpose: To create happiness. So, I’m deeply interested in how the happiness science and research is evolving. I do like the way Jennifer Moss and Plasticity Labs are focusing on the HERO model; Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism; connected to gratitude, mindfulness, and empathy. Their view is that by concentrating on the traits of the model versus happiness itself, it results in the state of happiness being more present and accessible in our lives.

Character Moves:

1. Check out Plasticity Labs (note: I currently have no personal contacts or financial involvement with Plasticity Labs). I’m just very curious and supportive of their MTP; and perhaps you are too? They have great resources and research literature on happiness. And their research reinforces that measurably happy, high-performing workplace cultures earn up to 50 percent more revenue, and have the uppermost levels of both employee and customer satisfaction.

2. Happiness is elusive. We are very early days in the science, although in 425 B.C., the Greek philosopher, Socrates, famously made a statement about happiness: “Strive for honesty, be your best self and have emotional control.” Socrates was one of the first to openly debate that happiness is in our control. Of course, he was also sentenced to death for corrupting the youth with this belief. So the pursuit of happiness has its detractors. How genuinely happy are you? I’m honestly not sure how happy I truly am, and am working to better understand the meaning both as a noun and verb.

Happy Fog in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I wasn’t positive about this, but yup, one little Google search reveals that us Millennials know a whole lot about antidepressants. This Fortune article suggests we may be the “least stable generation on record.” Great! But it’s not hard to check Facebook and realize it’s a world where micro aggressions cause daily outrage, and some of our highest satisfaction comes from a “like” button after sharing topics that get us up in arms. Uh oh. (Meanwhile, it’s the safest, most free and best time to be alive in history) and we have things like Plasticity Labs to assist our happiness. It might be complicated, but in 2017 I think happiness has never been more achievable with the right mindset. As Jocko Willink would say, “get it.”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

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The Character Triangle Companion

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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

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