Data Driven Leadership

Abundance Organizational culture Organizational leadership


Key Point: One of my proudest milestones as a Chief People Officer was to intentionally declare the following to all in our organization: “People have a right to great leaders and leaders have a responsibility to be great (not perfect).” We did a lot of research in developing a leadership framework that declared exactly what we meant by “great leadership.” We were very flattered when the giant of “leadership” John Maxwell stated very publicly, that our framework, was “one of the best he’d ever seen.” Therefore, I was gratified to read the following Stanford article, which also validates key elements of leadership we strongly endorse. The Stanford article states:

“Most leadership advice is based on anecdotal observation and basic common sense. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Kathryn Shaw tried a different tack: Data-driven analysis. Shaw, along with fellow Stanford GSB professor Edward Lazear and Harvard Business School’s Christopher Stanton, published a 2015 paper titled ‘The Value of Bosses,’ in which they gathered data from… in an attempt to see whether they could show that bosses matter and, if so, how much. As part of their research, the authors asked company employees and managers, ‘What are the traits of a good boss?’ They found that bosses matter substantially.

Three Things Good Bosses Do:

The first thing an effective manager does is to vividly describe the company’s vision and mission, and to explain in detail how each employee fits into that vision, Shaw says.

‘The next thing they do is drive results,’ she says. To ensure that individuals (and teams) are productive and have a sense that their contributions are valued, attentive bosses set-aside time to coach, guide, and motivate.

An often overlooked aspect of strong people leadership is to help employees achieve their personal career goals.

The third aspect of strong people leadership is to help employees achieve their personal career goals. Shaw says it’s ‘incredibly motivating’ when an employee’s long-term career vision and values are aligned with those of the organization. ‘A good boss will share that vision with them and give them guidance and feedback to help them along the path.’”

Our research adds one other key thing good bosses do. They are collaboration magnets. People want to work for and with them, and are lined up to do so.  

Character Moves: 

  1. Great leadership in our organization involves six practices and three key outcomes: Achieving sustainable results, continuously developing oneself and others, and becoming a magnet in attracting others to work with. Rate yourself on all three. What does the data (not opinion), tell you?

Note: If you or anyone you know wants a one-page copy of what I believe is the best leadership framework outline anywhere, email me at I will happily share it with you.

Magnetic leadership in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: At the end of the day, it seems that our departments and individual contributions, are only as successful as the mindset of the leader that manages them. Maybe we feel lucky and thankful just to have somewhere to show up and work, but “settling” can be a trap, and if we’re serious about wanting to improve, we should develop very high standards regarding who our leaders are. I’m not sure if we always remember, think about, or follow this.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Discretionary Time Off is Coming

Accountability Management Productivity


Key Point: We ALL need to recharge, refuel, attend to personal matters, care for others and sometimes heal ourselves. Of course, the way each of us really needs to manage these matters is very individual and unique. Yet most organizations approach this reality through standardized and homogeneous policies reflected in paid vacation days, leave and sick time. The essence of most current “time off” guidelines is that workers accumulate vacation days based on tenure and receive a set number of days to accommodate for sickness. Over the years, a myriad of “other leave” policies to manage the realities of life (like bereavement) have emerged as well.

Institutions employ people whose full time jobs include administering and accounting for the implementation of these systems. The question being asked more frequently today is whether the approach to current time off policy is antiquated. As an example, leading technology company LinkedIn is going to a 17 paid holidays PLUS a totally discretionary time off policy starting Nov. 1. Essentially, each employee is on an “honor” system to take as much time as they need. Netflix, Virgin and many other companies with progressive policies have done so already and/or are considering it. The company I’m the Chief People Officer of is actively reviewing our stance right now. Why?

When my father was a farmer, who set his personal time off? When I had my own business for 10 years, who set my personal time off policy? The fact is that when you are exclusively responsible for results, you and only you determine “time off.” There is no HR manual or boss to guide the decision. In most entrepreneurial scenarios, the consequences of time away from working are usually directly connected to “putting food on the table” and appropriately the decision is very personal. No results = no money to eat, let alone vacation. It is a very self-accountable environment. Of course, the above analogy doesn’t exactly translate to most organizations for the simple reason that the majority of us are employees and not owners. So the consequences of our time off decision-making are a little more complicated. Nevertheless, most would agree with the following:

  1. Each of our personal requirements for applying time away from work (how much, when, etc.) is unique and highly variable. Subsequently, many current time away from work policies are inadequate at best and can drive deceptive behavior at worst (for example, calling in “sick” for [insert fake reason]).
  1. The cost of administering the application of “traditional” systems involves a lot of waste/inefficiency and unnecessary adjudication (like buying vacations, paying vacations out, complicated absenteeism formula, accrued time off liabilities, and so on).
  1. Achieving results and making a contribution is much more important than counting time as a surrogate. And time away from work is not necessarily or should be a reward. (Why do I want to be away from what I like to do, am good at, and people I like to be with)? At the same time we know that refueling and energizing is necessary. Recognizing how to integrate work and things that happen in life is also reasonable. Segregating simply on time (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with four weeks vacation after 20 years seniority) is appropriately dissolving. Yay! Also, seniority as a means to earn four plus weeks off seems silly.
  1. Mobile technology allows many of us to complete work and achieve results in very different ways. A lot of information workers are not tied to a location or set time. Work and life is much more integrated than segregated. We need to manage ourselves rather than to be “supervised.” Most of us can appreciate the fact that no results will conclude with no job.

Character Moves:

  1. If you could organize personal time off in any way that worked for you while effectively contributing to your organization, what would the ideal arrangement look like? Ask yourself and your organization why it can’t be that way.
  1. Open yourself to constructively confront many policies and assumptions that we have historically accepted about work life. The way many of us apply personal time off is one of them. Let’s change it for the better where we work.

Accountable time off in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I’m a huge proponent of this and I’m thankful that work life is moving in this direction. In my industry, it couldn’t be more feasible. All I care about providing for my company is valuable results, and it’s true with today’s technology that I can do 90 percent of my work from anywhere at any time. The kicker is that there are team members who DO need to be on location, so how is it fair to them if I’m sitting in my gym shorts delivering my work via in between loads of laundry? I can feel the envy already. That’s the biggest concern for many. No one wants to let a team member down or seem expendable because they’re not in eyesight. But employees can’t be naïve for too much longer… It’s a big, accessible, connected world out there and often I bet you can get better work done with a scenic view and wifi instead of cubicle walls. I’d love to try it. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Are We Really That Necessary?

Accountability Purpose Well-being


Key Point: Peter Bregman, highly regarded psychologist, author, and consultant, recently wrote the following in Forbes: “Many of us are unhealthily—and ultimately unhappily—tied to mattering. It’s leaving us overwhelmed and over-busy, responding to every request, ring and ping with the urgency of a fireman responding to a six-alarm fire. Are we really that necessary? Relevancy, as long as we maintain it, is rewarding on almost every level. But when we lose it? Withdrawal can be painful. As we get older, we need to master the exact opposite of what we’ve spent a lifetime pursuing. We need to master irrelevancy.” 

I write a lot about the importance of bringing value to others every day. It’s vital. However, if we define who we are and feel happiness exclusively by whether we matter to others or not, we will likely be setting ourselves up for a fall. It does feel good to be wanted by others and to really matter at work (and life). However, one day, for whatever reason, that will change. We will matter less at work and elsewhere. Then what? For those that thrive allowing whether they “matter” to be defined by others will, as Bregman states, “experience a lot of pain… Self doubt… Disappointment… Fear, and even depression.” 

It’s a challenging paradox because we need to matter more by mattering less. First and foremost we need to matter to ourselves. We need to accept that we are all “good enough,” while continuously advancing emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. The purpose of self-advancement is about character development rather than being in perpetual self-judgment of being “good enough” to matter and be accepted. We need to accept being “good enough” and really matter to ourselves. In doing so, we can become better at mattering less to others. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Fully appreciate the value we bring to others, and be cautious about becoming addictive to “matter feedback” to confirm our necessity. One day we all become less relevant to someone. Like Bregman says, “How we adjust — both within our careers and after them — to not being that important may matter more than mattering.” Contentment may be most attainable when WE accept we really do matter, even when less relevant. 
  1. If you and I left work tomorrow because, let’s say, we won a big lottery, how long do you think it would take to replace us? I promise our former colleagues will say in a shockingly short time after our departure things like: “We miss ____, but (our replacement) brings a different approach that has its own unique value.” Let’s face it; we’re not as necessary as we like to think. It’s ok. Master irrelevancy. 

Not necessarily necessary in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Not to get into big hot topic issues, but sometimes I laugh when people I know say they are “worried” about the government “reading our texts,” or “listening to our calls.” Not because I necessarily agree the government should or not, but let’s just assume they are. In my mind, that means some poor NSA agent has to mull through your latest late night texts with so-and-so you met, or try to decipher your sports arguments from that group text with 100 inside jokes and funny throwback pictures from 2007. While that’s entertaining to you, you’re just not “that” important… No one is flagging it up. And if you ARE being closely monitored, well, you’re probably up to something extremely bad. In this case, guess what? You don’t WANT to be that important. Feeling valued and wanted is critical, but not EVERY part of everyone’s day is or needs to be Instagram worthy.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Nonsense of ‘Retirement’

Accountability Authenticity Happiness


Key Point: I think much of the current conversation about retirement needs to be refreshed. I’m not sure asking “when are you going to retire?” is very useful or meaningful. On the other hand, there is reasonable merit regarding questions related to planning for getting older and the changes that go along with it. One day all of us will be in a position where we will not be earning direct income because we are no longer able or want to. And ideally we will have reasonable flexibility as we are impacted by deteriorating health connected to living and dying longer. However, that is different than “retirement.”

Because I’m getting closer to the 65-year-milestone, people are constantly asking me if I’m going to “finally retire.” Or they ask me if “I need to be working to keep active,” (like I need to punch a time clock to ensure the vital organs do not atrophy… Geez). Sometimes the not so veiled suggestion is that I must want to keep working because I didn’t manage my money well. After all, who would want to keep “working” if they didn’t have to? Somehow retirement and choosing how to live gets wrapped up in the same sandwich. 

So what if we changed the focus about retirement, to living the life we want NOW? Whatever or whenever that is. The depth and breath of what we can really choose to do is certainly related to our bank account. But the idea of waiting for “retirement” to have better control of how you prefer to live is just giant dumbness. How would our life change for the better if we chose to live more how we want to on a daily basis? This includes meeting obligations in the various roles that define who we are AND making choices related to deferred gratification. In fact, people who can defer immediate gratification actually “accomplish” more. Yet, we need to choose more NOW. Drifting along waiting for something like retirement is the wrong mindset. It is likely to end badly. I recently heard an Olympic gold medal winner wisely note, that if you weren’t good enough for yourself before the gold medal, you wouldn’t be good enough for yourself after. If you can’t live the life you want now, it’s questionable that you will at some later date. 

Fortunately, I’m graced with the idea that all I need is the day in front of me. Give me the day and I will make it interesting and valuable. I do not understand the concepts of being bored, or waiting to be happy or fulfilled “one day.” That day is today. I’m looking forward to having another one tomorrow.

Character Moves:

  1. Absolutely plan for being unable or not wanting to earn direct income one day. It is going to happen. Remember to do so while living the life you want to live now. This includes deferring some gratification, but does not include waiting for so called “retirement” for fulfillment. It does require understanding that contentment and happiness comes from purpose, delivering value and contribution to others.
  2. Do not ask the question, “When are you going to retire?” Always ask what’s fulfilling for you now and what steps you’re taking to keep living life to the fullest.

No retirement in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: How many times a week do we hear “find out how to make an income doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Or banter about what we’d do with $500+ million when that office Power Ball collection comes wafting by? Funny enough, most people don’t dream of still “working” when imagining that bank account… But I too believe that unless you’re contributing, even if it’s through a passion of yours, then life would be boring and unsatisfactory. Despite how much we occasionally dread it, we’re not only showing up to the office for an income. We likely chose our professions because parts about them make us happy, and it feels good to be a relevant team player and help build something… No need to ever “retire” that feeling. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.

Get Ready to be Publicly Rated!

Collaboration Personal leadership Respect


Key Point: Thanks to the Internet’s relation to everything, there are a number of emerging realities. The following are two of these “truisms.” 1. If it can be publicly posted, it will be. 2. If it can be publicly rated, it will be. (You may remember these from a previous blog). 

As a leader, you are likely to experience public posting and rating of your leadership capability from both specifically known and anonymous sources.

One way or another, leadership performance is going to be much more transparent in the immediate future. Public websites like Glassdoor are just the beginning. So get yourself ready to have your performance level for all people to see. And if you’re not in a formal leadership role, expect your public employee rating to be out there for other people to see too. Yup…. Transparency is more than a buzzword or fad. It is likely to have good and not so good aspects, but overall, it’ll have a positive outcome for leadership and team member effectiveness. 

In a recent book, Leadership 2030, Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell examined the repercussions of the convergence of major forces like globalization, climate change, increased individualism, and accelerating digitization.

Among their findings is that leadership in the future will involve increased personal and business-level discomfort. Leaders will have to cope with the blurring of private and public life – and they will have to forge new relationships with competitors and employees. This requires new skills and mindsets. Ego is on its way out. The following excerpt is from their HBR blog on this topic:

“Leaders motivated by power over others will not thrive in this new world. We will see more “altrocentric” leaders, who understand that leadership is a relationship and will therefore primarily focus on others rather than themselves. Adept at engaging rather than commanding, they see themselves as just one integral part of the whole. Altrocentric leaders will be capable of long-term vision encompassing both global and local perspectives.

David McClelland points out that both emotionally intelligent leaders and their egocentric counterparts tend to be motivated by power; they enjoy having an impact on others. The difference is in the type of power driving them: Egocentric leaders tend to be concerned only with personalized power – power that gets them ahead. Altrocentric leaders, on the other hand, derive power from motivating, not controlling, others.

The altrocentric leader who is intrinsically motivated by socialized power, and who draws strength and satisfaction from teaching, teambuilding, and empowering others, will be able to handle the increased pressure of tomorrow’s business environment. They understand that they need not “have all the answers” themselves, and this mindset and willingness to turn to others for help better equips them to handle the stress of the uneasy chair.

All leaders will see life become more chaotic and overwhelming, and their struggles and management will be more visible than ever. Egocentric leaders will have a difficult time evolving, if they even can, and will be unable to thrive in such discomfort. Organizations need to develop leaders who are motivated by altrocentric leadership. They will be better prepared to succeed in 2030 and beyond.” 

Having industry, job or technical skills will be table stakes and expected. Our personal attributes and ability to connect expected technical skill through others for valued results will become the differentiator. And other people around us will very openly evaluate how we’re performing at this. 

Character Moves: 

  1. As a formal leader get ready to be publicly rated on at least four major areas: A) Ability to develop effective relationships. B) Ability to achieve great results. C) Ability to develop others. D) Ability to attract others who want to work for you.
  2. As an employee get ready to be publicly rated (at minimum) on the following key areas A) Ability to create and contribute lasting value/results B) Ability to build relationships. C) Hunger to continuously grow, improve and develop. D) Others’ willingness and fight to have you on their team.
  3. Be sure your emotional intelligence is high and as noted in the article above: Put your ego on the back burner where it belongs. Learn what altrocentric means for you. 

Rated in The Triangle,


Published and edited by Garrett Rubis