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Thursday, February 17, 2011

leading from a place of us, not me.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”-John Quincy Adams

I was born and bred to lead.
No seriously.
Google my mom.
Born and bred.

Then I went to school for it.
Degree in Organizational Psychology.
How to lead people, create successful teams.

But life happened, and jobs come and go.
Bought a business, built a business, lost a business.
Changed careers, found new paths.

I’ve witnessed brilliant leadership.
I’ve endured misguided leadership.
The difference?
Coming from the place of US or ME.

I worked for a company that shall not be named-no need, really. This publicly traded company made the announcement that they were being sold and reentering the private sector but they announced to their employees with little fanfare and less explanation. The overall result was a lackluster work place where people were scared and scrambling to hold onto their jobs, uncertain about what it all meant. The quieter the leaders, the more chaotic were the employees. Morale was shot.

Christmas time came, deal closed, Christmas bonuses were more of a lottery where we all picked envelopes-some had $1 and a few had $20 or $100 bills. Wasn’t that fun? Time for a champagne toast for the employees and leaders to celebrate the coming changes and the official sale of the company.

CEO starts off with a toast.
They typical ‘Isn’t it exciting? Great things to come!’
Then the epic fail.

To his workforce, afraid for their jobs, inadequately prepared for the changes ahead and largely without a Christmas bonus, he toasts the following…

“Driving to work today, I was so excited and filled with hope. Then it hit me. I realized I woke up with extra zeros in my bank account today!”

No joke.
Leading from a place of me.
Inspiring no one.
Except, perhaps, his accountant.

Jump forward to my new position at an up and coming start-up company in the health sector with an inspiring team of investors, the likes of whom have invested in Facebook and started Amazon.com. And then we have our fearless leaders who work side by side with us to make what’s great, even more amazing. Literally. Work side by side us. Totally approachable and involved.

I found myself sitting in a small room with my new CEO and three other trainees. One of the trainees asked something along the lines of “What do you guys do with this aspect of this business?”

CEO’s response?

“You’re at the end of your first week grace period. It is no longer ‘what do YOU do,’ it’s ‘what do WE do.’ From here on out you owe me a dollar every time you forget that YOU are a part of US.”

And then he answered the question.
About OUR company.

The difference is night and day. When you lead from a place only of what can you do for me, you lose people, lose their faith, there is no buy in, they lose their hope and their meaningfulness in the work.

When you lead from a place of US, you inspire, you include, you challenge, you demand excellence and you get it. And we all win. We may not all have extra zeros in our bank accounts but we feel rewarded, validated and appreciated. And then WE all work harder. Because WE want to be a part of the greatness.


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”-John Quincy Adams

It’s all about US.



MicheLe said...

LOVE this. Thanks for the inspiration today. You're on fire!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is GREAT. How exciting to work for a place that, from the sound of it, doesn't suffer the corporate cancer known as "middle management".

Keep up the good work! This is what every good blog should be -- concise, economical, clean, and inspiring.

Makes you wonder why so many waste blogging space with snark and bile.

Love it.

McGee said...

Thanks buddha...there are a lot of blogs out there with fluff and snark...fun to have fans of the good stuff!

Urb said...

Great stuff. Thanks to Tara for sharing with me. Cheers. Tony

McGee said...

Tony-thanks for reading-glad you enjoyed it!