The Gift of Failure!

Accountability Authenticity Resilience

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Key Point: Set yourself free by accepting your imperfection. At our company we have an important precept: “People have a right to great leadership. Leaders have a responsibility to be great (not perfect). ” One leader recently noted to me that by publicly stating that we as leaders do not expect “perfection,” it gave her permission to “make mistakes and continuously learn.” Why would we rob ourselves of the beautiful gift of failure? 

In the first pages of Being Wrong, author Kathryn Schulz writes, “In our collective imagination, error is associated not just with shame and stupidity but also with ignorance, indolence, psychopathology, and moral degeneracy.”

Somehow parents, educators and employers have created this cultural fear of messing up. Let’s stop it!

Ron Carucci is the best-selling author of eight books, including the recent Amazon No. 1 Rising to Power. In a recent HBR article, Carucci noted: 

“Many driven executives struggle to accept that flaws and mistakes are part of being human. And when you act is if you are, or should be, perfect, you eventually expect it of others as well. The followers on whom those unfair standards are imposed typically revolt and withdraw their support. Starved for acknowledgement, such followers wait to pounce on any hint of (hypocritical) deficiency, leaving no room for executive missteps. Executives, fearing criticism and exposure, work to perpetuate the illusion of infallibility — and perfectionism becomes a self-perpetuating prison. Sixty-seven percent of our respondents also struggled with micromanagement, a common symptom of managerial perfectionism. 

Followers need assurance that leaders know they themselves are flawed, and will in turn be understanding of other people’s slip-ups… A leader’s greatest source of credibility is, ironically, their vulnerability. Owning imperfections wins trust; hiding them doesn’t.” 

Character Moves: 

  1. Recognize that teammates want most of all to know that we authentically and genuinely care. I have a hard time remembering someone being fired for making a mistake when others believed that the right intent and care underscored the miss. Celebrate mistakes. Acknowledge, learn, and move on. 
  2. Failure is a gift! Give yourself the gift of imperfection and failure this holiday season! Make it a New Year’s resolution. 
  3. Do not micro manage!!!! It’s a symptom of perfectionism. 

Gift of imperfection in the Triangle, 

Lorne  

One Millennial View: I think we’re our own biggest critics in a lot of ways, and however nice it is to always just “nail” the tasks we perform, we’re going to have our screw ups. Just last week I published a piece with the typo “Green Back Packers” in the TITLE… It was fixable, but a pain in the butt to remedy, and embarrassing. Having your boss yell, “Who are the Green Back Packers?” is a “fun” gut check (not really). But, a lot of everyday things in life are like a baseball game. If you’re consistently making positive contact, you’re doing great. Sometimes you’ll hit a home run, but now and again, you’re going to swing, miss, and strike out.  

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Leaders as People Believers… Or Not

Management Organizational culture Respect

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Key Point: As a leader, I think what you believe about people is what you get. I was recently at a meeting that included a gaggle of so called Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) from a variety of industries. One CHRO representing a leading company (100 plus year old institution with about 15,000 employees) stated the following: “Right now, someone in your company is stealing from you, today a bunch of your people cheated you by leaving early, people won’t give you a decent amount of production unless you threaten them with fear of job loss,” and even more drivel. Wow. If this is what leaders who are responsible for the experience of people in organizations believe, no wonder employee engagement is at an all time low.

This same CHRO chuckled as he told the following story: His CEO put huge pressure on cost management. Subsequently, the procurement people negotiated a list of “acceptable” low cost hotels for employees to stay at during travel. The CHRO was subject to the same policy, and stayed at one of the three star hotels available to all. When the CEO found out his direct report executive was subject to the same policy, he berated the procurement manager and sent him to stay at the hotel “inflicted” on the executive. Several days later, the banished procurement manager called and sheepishly asked if it was ok to come home. He had been staying at the lowbrow hotel as instructed. The CEO chuckled and noted he forgot he “even sent him there.” Can you believe that leaders subject people to this humiliation? Can you believe people allow themselves to be treated this way?

Character Moves:

  1. Believe that people are great, and trust them to be great. If you expect mistrust, that’s what you will get. Believe in people, and they will rise to the occasion. Yes, you will find a few exceptions. Fire them! Trust all others.
  1. You deserve to be treated with respect. You have an obligation to treat everyone else with respect. Be tough minded regarding your expectations that people in your organization will get results. However, no one has the right to humiliate anyone to make a point. If you have the power to do that and act on it, you’re an ego driven ____ (you fill in the blanks). If you allow yourself to be victimized, get supportive help. You’ve lost your dignity and courage to do the right thing.
  1. It is possible to create great, people driven cultures that achieve superb customer experience, outstanding financial outcomes and enviable shareholder return. Don’t give in to the cynics. 

Believing in people in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I work in media, I know grisly stories sell best, but real life isn’t a dark news agenda. Despite all the statistics, heck yes people are trustworthy/ultimately good-natured, and if you really dwell on the conviction that they’re not, I don’t envy the side of the bed you wake up on every morning. Some cynics might call that “ignorance,” but if positivity was an Instagram filter, it would result in a much better picture that everyone should try more often. Us Millennials prefer a message that has our heads looking up and forward. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Purpose Driven Storytelling

Books Purpose Respect

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Key Point: Purpose and value driven storytelling are becoming central themes for leading organizations and a necessary practice for all leaders. Why? Storytelling is a prime vehicle for creating a cultural platform that inspires and guides individual and team behavior. Clear, meaningful and compelling purpose in partnership with stated values, fuels performance. 

John Coleman is a coauthor of the book, Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders. In a recent article, he describes inspirational purpose as an urgent call to action. As an example, he refers to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The organization’s purpose is “Finding Cures. Saving Children,” and notes that their website is filled with the stories of the kids they serve

Coleman also notes, “as part of completing purpose, organizations need to declare and live well defined and understood values… So you create a common narrative for the group or organization.” 

A well-advanced organization has all stakeholders telling stories that complete the desired narrative. For commercial institutions like ours, it is most rewarding when customers are fully engaged storytellers… And our website, along with social media become filled with stories that demonstrate how we’ve really made banking work for them! This makes our purpose and values true.

Character Moves: 

  1. What are the purpose and values of your group? How do they personally connect with you, your team, your customers, and other stakeholders? Properly answering these questions takes relentless, thoughtful work that translates into desired action over time. You can start a conversation, but do not think you can complete this at a four-hour team building session.
  1. How do you use stories to inspire, inform, celebrate and improve? This requires an intentional system before it happens unconsciously throughout the company. 
  1. Remember that giving specific, behavioral based recognition is a form of storytelling and perhaps the most effective.

Purpose driven story telling in the Triangle,

Lorne  

One Millennial View: Hearing stories from an experienced, “been there before” individual is one of the most valuable things a younger employee searches for. A great story stamps itself in the mind of an aspiring learner far better than some PowerPoint. For those of us looking for mentors, we’d gladly climb through thick and thin to earn this information. But, in our ADD-prone world, we just simply don’t have the patience or desire to hear anything that is a jumbled waste of time-consuming dialogue. A great story is priceless. However, a bad story disconnects us and makes us wish everyone shuts up and limits themselves to 140 character Tweets. It’s a blessing when we are privileged to learn from people who know the difference.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis