A Series On Our 10 ATBs

Abundance

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Story: We had a serious debate in our company regarding the importance of having clearly articulated values. Some folks had the view that hiring people with the right DNA (basic attributes) was sufficient. Others like myself, felt that we need to be more explicit in declaring what to expect from each other. While we wanted a wide variety of viewpoints, and a workforce that reflected the diverse community we live in, we also determined that we could foster greater inclusion through shared values. Having explicitly published values in organizations is hardly a new idea. However, we felt that being obsessive about them daily, with regular storytelling to showcase and reinforce, was something many institutions did not do well. So we launched what we call our 10 ATBs in 2015, based largely on an initiative led by our CEO. Many outside ATB ask me about them, and even people in ATB appreciate a refresher. So this is for all of you. I will write a blog about each one of them, and even though we number them sequentially, I will pick a random one each time. The important thing to remember is how the 10 work together as a system. I’m a fervent disciple of the notion that a clear, compelling PURPOSE deeply matters, so does obsessive, practiced, and fierce execution of values that both advance the company and employees as “better humans.” Let’s start with:

A: Think Yes First.

Key Point: In banking, it is easy to say NO. As one might imagine in the business of taking in and lending out money, risk management is essential. Subsequently, a bank can become so rule-bound and narrow that a propensity to think NO first can become a default position. This can permeate the entire business. Have you ever worked with people who think NO first? Occasionally, even departments like credit, IT, and HR in some companies get labeled as the NO or CAN’T folks. In today’s disruptive world, organizations need to be THINKING YES first (not necessarily always saying yes). It’s fundamental to achieving minimum innovation and transformation for survival, let alone the ability to flourish.

Key Actions to further establish THINKING YES first as a value in yourself and organization:

  1. Listen, listen, listen by connecting, understanding and THEN acting. (See previous blog on this).
  2. Use the phrase “how might we?” or similar phrases to continuously explore opportunities to get to the possibilities underlying “YES.”
  3. Use the conjunction AND instead of BUT. This technique is practiced by improv comedians, because it keeps the possibilities open.
  4. Ask “why?” all the time, and challenge the current value of all rules, processes, etc. Often, people do things just because. It’s surprising how many things are just activities without any real current value.
  5. Always acknowledge and express appreciation when the person you’re working with is someone who thinks YES first, and finds a way to move forward with you.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Are you a think yes first person? Is that how people think of you?
  2. How well do you apply the five techniques above? That will give you an indication.
  3. Don’t be a putz, and use your authority to think NO first. People will find a way to work around you. If that happens too much, you know how that likely ends .

Thinking YES FIRST in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s little that is more frustrating than when upper management immediately shuts down an idea by saying “no,” or claiming they “can’t” without exploring the proper avenues to “yes.” If we’re working with leaders who “think yes” first, it seems there’s a lot better chance we’ll achieve accomplishments that will have the entire company saying “yes!”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Getting Flatter Than Ever

Abundance Organizational culture Transformation

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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

Garbage Men Dave and Rudy Teach Us WOW

Abundance Community Kindness

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Key Point: Our company has a value based on WOWing each other on a daily basis. I often have people look at me in bewilderment when we discuss this, like “how could I possibly do that in my role?” Well, look for guidance from Nova Scotia garbage men Dave and Rudy. You may want to watch the video in this CTV News article:

Every Wednesday, three-year-old Hiro Getson walks to the end of his driveway, sits down and waits for the garbage truck. Like many kids his age, the toddler from Eastern Passage, N.S. has developed a love of big trucks. But even stronger than that early fascination is his unlikely friendship with two garbage men he greets each week.

Dave Nickerson said he and his colleague, Rudy, have developed a weekly ritual.

Hiro Getson, 3, and his mom check out a garbage truck at the end of their driveway.

‘Rain or shine, he’s at the end of the driveway. So we started watching for him, honking the horn for him, getting out and letting him play with the handles,’ Nickerson told CTV Atlantic.

Since Hiro took an interest in the garbage truck and its drivers last year, he’s baked them cookies and, most recently, gave them cards on Valentine’s Day. To repay the little boy’s kindness, the garbage men brought Hiro a special gift this week for his birthday: a toy garbage truck that resembles his favourite ride. They painted the truck the same shade of green and included small, personal details.”

So now, Hiro has a cool garbage truck with Dave and Rudy decals on the toy doors. And, Dave and Rudy make this child happy every Wednesday while getting his affection, occasionally expressed in cookies. If you Google this trend, there are actually quite a few stories where garbage men see themselves as more than people who take away our refuse. They bring cleanliness and friendliness to the community. They could just be cantankerous workers, feeling victimized by their role and frustrated by the underlying aspect of garbage. It’s even likely some days are that way for Dave and Rudy. However, what a difference when we have the ability to reframe what’s in front of us. Let’s face it, everyone of us picks up garbage in our work. What if we challenged ourselves to reframe our jobs with a little bit of WOW?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Pause to think how we might WOW someone we interact with regularly. It doesn’t have to expensive or big. It is often just the statement that: “I see you, and appreciate that you’re there for me.”
  2. Be like Dave and Rudy this week. Wow someone who faithfully comes out to see you “every Wednesday.” Buy ’em a toy truck. Yay for Dave and Rudy’s inspirational act.

More than garbage in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I remember when one of my co-workers (who I didn’t really interact with much at the time) attended The Masters golf tournament with her husband. I was the only worker on my team interested in the event, and most other employees didn’t understand the appeal. Well, when I returned to my desk the week after, the co-worker who attended The Masters left me a small, green, plastic cup she acquired while there. It was likely free, but it was the idea that she hauled it back from Augusta, Georgia that meant so much. I still use it as a water cup on a regular basis. Definitely a WOW move.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Other Side of Epic Failures  

Abundance Courage Resilience

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Key Point: Risk and reward go together like two sides of a coin. If you want to experience great rewards, you need to take calculated risks. The last few blogs have been examples of some personal, epic failures. I want to balance that perspective with some of the rewards associated with taking those risks. Please allow me to share a few of them:

Epic Failure 1: Fortune 50 Company

  • Worked directly for the Chair/CEO and facilitated strategic discussions like determining whether to purchase 25 percent of Time Warner; Facilitated the potential outcome of splitting the company into two distinct entities (growth and value). Both resulted in tremendous value increase for shareholders.
  • Participated in the growth of the wireless/cable telephony business in eastern europe and observed entire countries dramatically change commerce and personal communications.
  • Experienced and observed the board of directors meetings/private dinners of this company and connected with iconic board members like Mary Gates (Bill’s mom), the chair/CEO of Dow, 3M, vice chair of Ford etc .
  • Worked daily with incredibly talented office mates like Tom Bouchard ( became world wide HR of IBM) , John O’Farrell (Now partner in big time Silicon Valley VC, Andreesen Horowitz).

Epic Failure 2: Catalogue IT Company

  • Learned how to sell low margin IT infrastructure to both consumers and business.
  • Established a reference and framework for transforming a mid-size company in mid flight.
  • Led a team of believers to win the contract to procure IT for all of MICROSOFT ($100 million plus/annum), and helped the company crossover to a true IT Business reseller.
  • Experienced the nuances and operating responsibility of running a publicly traded company end to end.

Epic Failure 3: Voice over IP startup:

  • Learned what running a hungry tech startup meant/felt like.
  • Experienced the challenge of selling emerging technology into a legacy market.
  • Appreciated never to take anything for granted and to be grateful for all.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Remember that risk and reward go together and the key determiner of success is YOU. Others may have a view and even data as evidence one way or another. However, the criteria of success that is most important is your own .
  2. The biggest regret expressed by the dying, based on research by palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware, was the wish to have the courage to NOT live the lives others expected. Be intentional about what YOU want to do; not what you think others want you to do.
  3. Consider the following quote by Meg Cabot; ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, BUT THE CAUTIOUS DO NOT LIVE at ALL!”

Have the courage to live in Personal Leadership

Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s amazing to realize how many of the courageous people died in WWI and WWII. Think about it. Now, we’re the generation that lives way after, but hopefully not without remembering those who truly were not cautious and saved the world for us.

–  Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

I Want to ‘DWD’ You!

Abundance Gratitude Kindness

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Key Point: Being abundant through appreciating and recognizing other people is so gratifying. We are all rich and our “giving checking account” is flush, when it comes to acknowledging others. The beauty is that this personal bank account for giving and sharing our caring observations is infinite. We are all recognition “billionaires.” Even better, giving recognition is scalable and we never have to worry about getting “appreciation fatigue.” Genuinely recognizing others is an energy booster.

I’m not sharing anything new with this blog. You already know this. I’ve written about it many times. My sole purpose with this post is to encourage each of us to examine how we’re currently doing in this regard, and to take some action today. However, no guilt trip is intended, just a nudge. (I need a self prompt too).

When we think about it, there are so many people that we can acknowledge. This has nothing to do with whether people deserve it, have earned it, receive too much or too little. This is much less a statement about the people we are recognizing than the self-awareness to observe that people do something every day to make our lives better. And we owe it to ourselves and others to SEE these people. One way to confirm our sight is to sincerely let others know. Acknowledging others in a fully abundant way does NOT include “matching,” expected reciprocation, or anything else. A true gift of appreciation comes with NO strings attached. None. Zippo. It is not dependent on anything other than the idea that you and I simply and purely want to acknowledge. It is all about taking action on something we see as the right thing to do. We are the sole determiner of who, what and how. We are simply the givers.

For more than 40 years, I’ve been sending out DWD’s (Darn Well Dones). It’s not my idea. I heard about someone doing this and shamelessly applied the practice. I used to even have a “DWD” stamp that I put on hand written cards. For the last few years it’s been mostly digital. People have come up to me years later with a crumpled DWD card in their wallet or purse. We ALL want to be seen and appreciated for our contributions. It’s not that we need it in an unhealthy way, but we do in our simple human desire to be loved.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Before the day is out, find some way to recognize, appreciate, and acknowledge someone. Sincerely tell them what they do to make your life better. It may be the everyday smile they give you in the morning, and/or something with more heft.
  2. And DWD to all of you for reading this blog, encouraging Garrett and me to keep writing, and telling us we have somehow connected with you, often just when you need a little extra juice for your day.

DWD in Personal Leadership,

P.S. if everyone reading acknowledges someone today, we will have embraced more than 5,000 people. Imagine if we could keep the chain going. We could literally change the world.

– Lorne

One Millennial View: For better or worse, there’s reportedly a biological and scientific reason a “like” on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is desired by us humans. Apparently, it delivers dopamine to our brains. It doesn’t take much to click a “like” button, but a DWD… That kicks it up a notch. So, it’s no surprise people keep DWD’s crumpled into their wallets as keepsakes. They are a harder earned “like.” 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis