Bringing It!

Accountability Contribution Teamwork


Key People: Impact players BRING IT. All the time. They are full of “juice” and turned on. They are really good at executing AND do more than execute on what’s expected. They anticipate, create, innovate and are always searching for a way to create a “wow.” The “wow” is not about grandstanding. It is about creating and achieving breakthrough. 

 “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room,” Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer Corp. once said. Recently Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook noted.: “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person. It’s a pretty good test and I think this rule has served me well.” It’s that time of the year (our fiscal year ends March 31) when I start to think over what results my team has achieved, relationships developed and how much team members have progressed.

While Dell and Zuckerberg have great “tests” about teammates that I really do like, I also put a big check beside the quality of edgy ideas and additional unexpected value people bring. I’m really attracted to people who are always thinking BIG about what might be possible. They’re more than silent dreamers. These are people who meet me at the  “white board,” and are fearless about their views. This hopefully includes different perspectives than mine and I RELISH that, because they bring angles I’m likely missing. I don’t want people trying to navigate or manage me. I honor people who help me think better, stimulate a “one plus one equals seven” outcome . And it’s fun. Everyone one in the room fires up because the ideas and possibilities light us all up. And we leave mental trash behind to rapidly biodegrade, no longer belonging to anyone. And from US, a new picture, a new path, a new light… Sort of a ” farm to table ” freshness in the room. It’s a lot like being a little kid lost in free play with people you like. No one’s fighting over a toy. It becomes about creating more, better, brighter, and sharing in the beauty of design and outcome. 

Character Moves:                         

  1. Just “bring it.” Everyone has a boss and the best feeling is when you bring something, the boss smiles, fist pumps and gets excited too. And don’t worry if it doesn’t always click. People working for and around me are still chuckling about my crazy eyed “killer bees” idea this year. Our CEO was dry heaving; he thought the idea was so dumb. Guess what? 10 great ones… Two crumby ones… So what? I’m NEVER going to stop BRINGING IT. 
  2. If you’re THE boss, don’t try and be the smartest person with the best and only way all the time. Be there to inspire… Encourage… Maybe put a bumper guard here and there. Use your experience, shepherd and throw gasoline on the sparks when your team is bringing it. Embrace the joy that comes when ideas are tripping over each other like a run away Lego set! And that’s why in The Lego Movie… “Everything is awesome.”

Bringing it in The Triangle!

– Lorne

One Millennial View: This time, I can only agree. Just bring it! On all levels.

Use Recognition For Cultural Transformation

Gratitude Organizational culture


Key Point: Effective transformational leaders use recognition for positive cultural shift in addition to demonstrating care and appreciation. Many leaders think giving recognition is just an obligatory “atta boy,” which is certainly not a very sincere or gratifying premise for the giver or receiver. On the other hand, transformational leaders are wise enough to understand that authentic recognition creates a story, and stories are one of the most powerful elements in driving cultural shift.

Tony Schwartz, President and CEO of the Energy Project wrote this story in a recent blog:

“One morning many years ago, when I was a young reporter at The New York Times, Joseph Lelyveld, then the foreign editor, walked by my desk. I hardly knew him, and I was on the phone, but he pulled out a pen and a sheet of paper from a reporter’s pad in his jacket pocket and wrote me this note: “Yours is the best story in the paper today.” That was more than 30 years ago, but the memory of feeling appreciated and inspired still feels bracingly fresh. Still, it was only when I began writing notes of appreciation to others that I realized how rewarding it also is for the sender.”

Now Tony, some 30 years later, remembers FEELING “appreciated and inspired.” So let’s say that this editor took just a few more minutes to tell Tony why it was the best story and the impact it had. Tony and others would then have a very clear description of what made the story “great” and why. It is likely that all would have an even clearer outline as to what made a stand out story in the NYT and how it could be “the best in the paper.” I”ll bet that the reasoning would be repeated by others. In fact it may even become a legendary story of its own… A hypothetical: “The Day Tony ‘s Story Was the Best in the Paper.” (The blog did not indicate whether that actually happened or not).

I am always surprised how much some so-called leaders resist and/or are ambivalent in recognizing others. Some people actually believe giving recognition is a sign of weakness, and will go to people’s heads. They think too much acknowledgment is bad and makes “good” the “enemy of great.” I do believe that generalizations and vague platitudes are not helpful to either the giver or receiver. However, when a leader understands that specific, authentic recognition shows caring consideration along with specific description of desired behavior, it is gratifying. It can even be transformative for all involved.  As an example, if you like people “wowing” customers, openly and specifically recognize and describe the behavior that had such an impact on the customer. I guarantee you others will try and replicate the story. And that’s why recognition, when done well, can be a cultural transformation machine. It is also why generalities, platitudes, and vague applause are often received with the bland response they deserve. There is really nothing to specifically celebrate, repeat, or recognize… When there’s no cultural story, any resulting cultural shift will be unlikely.

Character Moves:

  1. Be specific, transparent and generous in recognizing the desired behavior/performance of others. As an example, if you value “self-accountability” as a trait, then look for many opportunities to recognize when you see the self-accountability you desire. Describe what actually happened and how the act of self-accountability made a positive difference to the customer, company, individual and you. This is telling a story. 
  1. Remember that in addition to reinforcing desired behavior, giving recognition shows you care for the individuals involved. As Schwartz states, “Care cures a host of ills. It’s no surprise that the most powerful influence on people’s engagement at work is the experience of feeling genuinely cared for by their direct supervisor. Feeling valued is critical to our well-being from infancy. What’s less obvious is how satisfying it can be to care for others — and how that can invest even routine jobs with meaning and nobility.” 
  1. Think of yourself as both a caring, appreciative leader AND a cultural transformational leader. Giving recognition allows one to be both sides of this leadership equation.

Cultural recognition in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: This is a tough one, isn’t it? I know for a fact that the proudest recognition I’ve received has often been the most difficult to earn… You know, when that tough-headed son of a bi*ch (teacher, coach, boss) finally acknowledges your efforts. Is that true? Yes. Is that ideal? Nah, but it’s ingrained already. If I may, here’s my recommendation for those tough headed leaders: Find a balance. Look, I’m not going to run home and stamp a gold star on my fridge for a little, everyday “hey, good job.” But that’s enough to keep me pushing. I recommend adding a hard earned phrase to your verbal ammo. Find a special something-something that you DO only say when it’s truly earned. Reserve it for that exceptional job well done. When you use it, explain why. Word will spread… That rare “atta boy” will be sought after, and as soon as anyone hears it, they’ll want to know the story. (Perhaps some of you have received a DWD before).

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Bully and Silent Bosses Aren’t Leaders

Accountability Communication Organizational leadership


Key Point: Hold yourself accountable first and help others improve. I believe the weakest and most ineffective “leaders,” more aptly described as “bosses,” spend their time chest pounding about “holding others accountable.” They are often “yellers” and recognize that their positions of authority provide a platform for subtle or even direct intimidation. I want these people out of organizations because they do little to improve performance, while adding lots of cultural waste, in the form of “ass protecting.”

In fairness, “bully bosses” may not think of themselves that way. They often have lower EQs and frame the world as “soft.” Hence, they believe the rest of the folks ought to be more like them. Now, I fully recognize that we are and should be disappointed by mistakes, poor performance and unmet expectations. We do need to set high bars of excellence and expect it within others and ourselves. However, what I have witnessed in my career is too much behavior at one extreme or another; bully at one end, mute at the other. As unfortunate as the bully boss is, the silent or mute boss might even be worse. This type of boss grumbles and seethes internally about poor performance and most often silently sneaks up on a “poor performer” after finally “having enough” and “gets rid of the problem.”

It is really hard to be a performance coach. It takes care and skill to engage performance issues effectively. It involves huge amounts of personal energy. And I believe that’s what leaders need to do: We need to hold ourselves accountable first AND help others improve. Yes, we’re human and have a right to feel frustrated, disappointed and angry with unmet expectations. However, look in the mirror first. Remember our best outcome is to coach others to higher performance. 

Peter Bregman is a coach, and a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. He’s also the best-selling author of 18 Minutes, and his forthcoming book is Four Seconds. I really respect his work. This is what Peter recommends when someone under-performs: 

Character Moves (via Bregman): 

 “1 .Take a breath (that’s the four seconds part). Slow yourself down for the briefest of pauses — just enough time to subvert your default reaction. In that moment, notice your gut reaction. How do you tend to handle poor performance? Do you get angry? Stressed? Needy? Distant? Your role is to give people what they need to perform, not what you need to release.

2. Decide on the outcome you want and be specific. What does this particular person need in order to turn around this particular poor performance or failure? Maybe it’s help defining a stronger strategy, or brainstorming different tactics, or identifying what went right. Maybe they need to know you trust them and you’re on their side. But here’s what people almost never need: to feel scared or punished. And more often than not, that’s how we make them feel when we ‘hold them accountable’ in anger.

3. Choose a response that will achieve the outcome you want, rather than simply making your already obvious displeasure more obvious.”

Performance coaching in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: We’re probably not all lucky enough to work for bosses that are also perfect leaders. But that doesn’t mean we should stop taking notes. Even poor bosses can teach us through bad example, so when we may reach leadership positions, we can model ourselves differently… Bully bosses and “mutes” can be discouraging, but I don’t think we should allow them to shut us down. Like any other relationship in life, it’s about learning and developing tastes and standards. Learn from the duds. What does your boss do that you like? What don’t they do? As our careers progress, we can take that model and keep puzzling together the most ideal fit in a leader, which in turn will hopefully form a successful team and working atmosphere.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis