As leaders we have a responsibility to ensure that our area is managed effectively and that we are driving the organization to achieve its stated objectives. We also have a responsibility to grow the next generation of leaders to ensure that the great work we've done continues on after we've moved on. Keep some of these nuggets in mind as you ponder making the next generation of leaders great:
In the movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey contemplates suicide after his uncle misplaces a deposit which threatens the closure of his bank. Just as George is about to jump off a bridge, his guardian angel Clarence jumps in the water prompting George to jump into the water to rescue him. After the rescue, Clarence takes George on a journey to show him what life would have been like had George never been born. George got to see first-hand how person after person was worse off because each of them didn't have the opportunity to be touched by George in some way. Even George's wife Mary met the politically incorrect fate of being an old maid working in the city library. After George's alternate reality journey, he emerged with a wonderful appreciation for all of the good he did in his life and how he impacted so many people with his kindness, generosity, and empathy.
I used this story to open up my sister Lori's eulogy.
One of my favorite magazines is Readers Digest. There are a wide variety of short stories and interesting snippets. Despite the huge number of ads in each issue, I look forward to getting my monthly issue and keeping it in the smallest room of the house.
In the latest issue I found some pretty profound nuggets on leadership as quoted by some of the greatest leaders in both the public and private sectors. A few of them were profound enough that I thought I would send them out to you (with proper attribution, of course) so you might be able to get just one nugget to help you be a better leader.
My wife, son and I went to New York City some time back to celebrate my son's graduation from high school. We stayed in a great hotel that my wife scored right in Times Square. While in NYC we took the opportunity to take in a couple of Broadway shows. One that we were all very excited about seeing was Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark. The music, acting, and effects were all terrific and were executed flawlessly....with one exception.
My church holds mens breakfasts every quarter where about 200 men get together early on a Saturday morning, enjoy some great comfort food, and listen to some really good speakers. After attending one of the breakfasts, I approached the Mens Pastor about the idea of my son Trevor and I doing a talk about ten ways to mess up as a Dad. He was intrigued with the idea so that night at dinner I asked Trevor if he'd be interested in doing this with me. His first comment was, "well, I can think of about a hundred ways!" Knowing that my son would have absolutely no difficulty in coming up with ten ways (and having 90 to spare), we embarked upon creating the presentation.
My wife Patty and I some time back completed a massive renovation on a townhome in the Seattle area. The townhome was built in the late 70's and was decorated using all of the finest materials that the Disco era had to offer. The original owners liked it so much that they changed precisely nothing for the 30 years they lived there right down to the 8-track player on the guest room night stand. We purchased the townhome in late 2009 with the intention of renovating the townhome and occupying it after our son graduated high school.
Some time back I was having breakfast with a couple of guys that I work with in one of the organizations which I volunteer. In this organization, I have been leading a group of about nine men for about four months to set a vision for the group, decide upon our key focus areas, and lay out activities which the group will undertake for the next year. I was very pleased with how the team "gelled" and the fact that we seemed to be moving the ball forward towards meeting our vision. During breakfast, one of the guys told me that, by and large, the team was happy with me but a couple felt that I came in too heavy-handed and authoritarian. Blech.
During winter my hands tend to dry out and get chapped. One night when my hands felt like sandpaper I asked my wife if she had any hand lotion. "Sure, what kind do you want?" she asked. "The hand lotion kind," I said like the knuckle-dragger I am. She then handed me an ice bucket which contained the following:
So maybe you think you're all that and a bag of chips and that you can get more things done than most people in your organization. As managers, though, it's not just about you getting things done on your own; it's about you getting your team to be as effective (or more) as you.
I deliberately use the term effective versus efficient. For me, there is a very clear distinction which I believe is crucial in driving results.
In an earlier leadership role I had been striving to create focus and accountability within each of our major work areas. The team responded beautifully with doing their best to adjust to roles, to stay focused on their areas, and to minimize confusion by stepping across boundaries. They did exactly as I asked.
We were in a team meeting and I could see that there was erupting confusion around contacting customers in an effort to close some sales. There was a lot of respect for my sales & marketing manager in not stepping in on her turf when it came to customers. Where the problem arose, though, was in the fact that the team was confused as to who was supposed to be following up on some key sales activity that had begun prior to our organizational re-alignment.