July Lessons 4: Find and Free the Unfound

Abundance Accountability Respect


Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: On July 10, our company celebrated the one year anniversary of switching over to G Suite. It was massive, and by all accounts, a highly successful enterprise undertaking involving 5,000 plus dedicated and growth-minded team members. The entire initiative was one of the most rewarding experiences in my 40 plus year career. One very important part of the entire project involved recruiting and selecting more than 50 “transformers” we called G Evangelists. They had to audition, and came to represent every possible identity and cognitive diverse aspect of our company. The one rule was, if they were selected, their leaders could only say “yes.” And they were assured of a walk back to their roles at the conclusion of their secondment. A few of the people chosen to be G Evangelists were well-known, and high fliers. However, most were buried in the organization, and some were even on the bubble. Others were unsure and even ambivalent about their careers. One year later, almost to a person, they have been promoted and are doing amazing things in the company. Their bond as a cohort is unshakeable, and they still get together once a month on Google Meet, even though the official project has been operationalized since March.

Key Point: Organizations have to get better at finding, freeing, and engaging the unfound. They are everywhere in the company. They often don’t fully understand how talented they are. Even worse, top management is often incapable of reaching deep and taking the smothering blanket of outdated vertical structures out of the way. We need leaders that open opportunities to people who want to raise their hands from any place, any time, any level. There is so much unrealized talent just needing a nudge and leaders who say, “I know you can do it,” “I’m here to support you,” “I’ve got your back.” These men and women are everywhere, and it’s about time we develop new systems and processes to find them, free them and watch them flourish. Imagine if we could do that with more than 5,000 people. It’s a matter of asking “how might we?”

One more thing. I’ve almost never had a lousy performer. People have told me things like, “fire ___, they’re not a leader.” “Working closely, I find ___ to be indispensable when optimizing their strengths. Or, “___ can’t execute.” Yet, somehow working with me, I challenge ___ and, “nothing but net.” I’m no special leader. However, I believe given the right situation, ALL can be great contributors. That’s my job as a leader. Frankly, I’ve found leaders who talk tough about how the company needs way better people are usually the lousiest managers. No one raises their hands to work for them. They mask it well, but prefer fear over development. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Find the unfound. Please know someone is out there needing an opportunity just like you. Free them up to contribute in ways they might not imagine they could. They will surprise themselves, and you.
  2. Your job includes offering opportunity to others in order to advance them. Abundantly give daily.

Found in Personal Leadership,

One Millennial View: It’s too true. In my experience, we all want a chance to be thrown in the water to see if we’ll swim. With the right coach, most of us will. Nevertheless, we’d rather drown trying than be stuck on a safe, dry dock.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis