The Pain and Promise of Goodbye

Gratitude Respect

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Story: I have been at hundreds of airports around the world, experiencing more than 10,000 or so trips in my life. That’s an opportunity to observe a lot of “hi’s” and “goodbyes.” And like most business travelers, I’m head down, focused on getting to and from my next obligation. Yet, one cannot help but notice and be touched by the tears of departure and arrival that make up every airport scene. Perhaps it’s an excited child running to mom who’s been on that road trip, or a long hug from that aging parent, barely letting go of a grown child living too far away. If a person is present enough to really notice, it is one poignant scene after another, each meant to be felt and watched.

Today I’m saying goodbye to my children and grandchildren after a wonderful family celebration. The pain of that soft kiss and extra long hand-hold is so bittersweet. Knowing that adventure is in front of all, yet not wanting to let go for even a second. If only that embrace could be eternal. Each goodbye is a process of grieving.

It is also a season of goodbye’s at work. Our exceptional CEO, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with the last six years, and a number of other colleagues whom I’ve come to appreciate so much, are all leaving. And I will be retiring from the company before too long as well. It is such an emotional roller coaster to deeply commit, and then one day, literally close the door for the last time. Organizations, as they should and must, swiftly fill the void. Someone steps in and carries on in their own unique way. We are all irreplaceable and replaceable at the same time.

Key Point: Something very important happens at the moment of greeting and leaving in both our personal and professional lives. We have to be exceptionally present and self-aware to fully ingest the experience. What am I feeling? Why? What about the other or others? What am I bringing of myself and leaving behind? What am I receiving from the other(s), or having to give up? Why does it matter? While our work is so important to us, I remind us all of a searing message from a former colleague, living his last hours in palliative care. He notes that in lying and waiting to die, he hardly thinks about work and people he toiled with at all. It’s family and friends that appropriately take up the dwindling space that matters most.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Relish the genuine beauty in each greeting and exit. The experience associated with both emphasizes and confirms that we are truly alive.
  2. Remind yourself that work and those associated, while important and deserving of our genuine care, will more rapidly come and go from both our experience and memory.
  3. The best long-term investment for our total wellbeing is in family and friends. That means making the most of what happens between each greeting and goodbye. To be fully loved, we have to love FIRST. Do so generously, and without expecting anything in return. Perhaps, that is a perspective we need reminding of, and that’s what the pain and promise of “hi” and “goodbye” presents. 

Loving abundantly in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s too true. I can confirm that saying goodbye to a large number of loved ones can certainly leave its mark, especially after a great celebration. However, thank goodness for the capability to use FaceTime, and a variety of other forms of communication to see and speak to those far away and in different time zones. Thankfully, a “goodbye” is far from a disconnection in 2018.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

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

 

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 

Culture Cast: Analyzing the Current State of Recognition, Acknowledgment and the Reward System

Personal leadership Podcast

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Hey Culture Cast fans! On Season 2, Episode 6, Lorne and Lynette discuss and analyze recognition, acknowledgment and the reward system. It’s not just about “what you did,” it’s about “how you did it.” Join the discussion about the value of giving and receiving genuine recognition from you, your peers and employees.

Please listen on Soundcloud and iTunes, and don’t forget to rate and review.

If listeners have any questions or thoughts, feel free to email the podcast at CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com. As you can see, we’ve started a Q/A series that will be posted every other Wednesday, and will likely be addressed in future podcasts as well. Please feel free to contribute. 

Also, please follow the podcast @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter, and advance the conversation.

A Series: Learning From My Epic Failures (Part 1)

Growth mindset Resilience Respect

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Key Point: Why would I waste my many failures by keeping them to myself? Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my work and many accomplishments over the span of a 40+ year career. I will leave the evaluation of my success to the judgment of others, and the archives of history, if anyone is really interested. My failures, however, are mostly mine to share and expose. I wish my working career was a big “Facebook fairy tale” filled with one perfect picture after another, but you and I know that would be an incomplete description. I won’t bore you with my mundane failures. Instead, I will stick to several of my “epic” goof-ups, what I’ve learned from them, and what I might encourage you to do to avoid repeating. I must note that I hope you get the chance to create your own big screw ups. Like the phrase goes, “you only trip when you’re moving.”

Frankly, I may have been one of the fastest rising executives in a Fortune 50 company, ever. I started as a 38-year-old director in a division, and less than three years later, I was one of seven execs reporting directly to the CEO and Chairman. During my first career planning session with the CEO, he said to me, “it may be a little early to talk about you rising to my job, but we want to make sure you have all the right steps to get there.” I was head of World Wide Quality, lead facilitator of the global strategy, and coordinated all of my bosses meetings. I was “golden.”  Four years later, I left the company, burnt out and confused as to what the hell happened.

Of course, my view and assessment is only one perspective, and I’m sure other characters in this “play” might see otherwise. The punchline is that I believe I lost my way on the personal value I was providing my boss, and political naivety put me at odds with leaders who were much more powerful and skilled than I was. Because I had risen so quickly, I hadn’t established a loyal tribe and ended up being too dependent on my own insights to navigate. As the corporate leader of quality in the company, our biggest domestic division suffered material deterioration to customer service. While I wasn’t responsible for the action that caused it, I lacked the political strength and/or skills to countermeasure it. And my boss, the CEO, became disenchanted that people weren’t listening to my advice. The problem became bigger than me. The Japanese have a wonderful saying that in loose translation states, “better to button the shirt from the bottom up. If you start too close to the top, you might miss a button hole and have to start over again.” Hmm.

Personal Leadership Moves:

1. Remember that potential and past work means very little going forward. You have to constantly be reassessing the value you bring. Your boss has one vote and usually gets input from others. However, that’s a giant vote and if you aren’t helping your boss big time, loyalty will diminish. It can happen over night. Don’t be paranoid, and don’t be naive.

2. When you find yourself faced with one tough, big ass problem, don’t go at it alone. Do not act helpless either, and never point your finger elsewhere. Bring the stakeholders together as effectively and quickly as you can to move things forward. Don’t wait!

3. Remember that your career will have ups and downs. Very few of us get a free ride or catch the perfect wave time after time. Accepting this precept means that when things change, we put ourselves in a position to say: “Thank you… I can hardly wait to see what fate has in store for me next.”

Failing up in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is a great idea for a series. This reminds me of the Jocko Willink clip, “Good.” I’m not sure if I’ve shared this on the blog before, but, it’s always “good” for a refresher. This is a very eye-opening look at failure, and quite a kick-in-the-pants if you haven’t seen it yet: 

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis