Now that I've had some time off, I've been thinking about the last re-org I went through at BSX, and the kind and qualities of the management du jour that my group reported up through. I've heard that a certain Director evidently thinks its okay to yell at his direct reports. As in literally angry shouting. Personally I'd never put up with that. I'd let the freak finish ranting, and then as cool and as calm as I possibly could muster, I'd say: "Are you finished?" And then I'd point a finger directly at their face and say slowly, using small words, "I'm not sure who you think you are, but let me be clear: Don't you EVER talk to me like that again." Nothing unhinges robot management like resetting the conversation on your terms.
"I always ask myself, would I want one of my sons to work under that person? If he is successful, then young people will imitate him. Would I want my son to look like this?"*
If the answer is "no", then why are you?
Being an authentic leader means "walking the walk" -- if you wouldn't want your son or daughter (or niece/nephew) reporting to your boss, what kind of signal does that send? What kind of new normative behaviors might you inadvertently be picking up? In other words, what kind of person (or robot) are you turning yourself into?
Today's Big Idea: If your boss isn't the kind of person you'd want your son or daughter working for, it's time you found a new boss.
And, if you're promotion minded, figure out if you would enjoy the work your boss does. If not, it might be time to switch careers. Companies are hiring again -- go be valued somewhere else!
* This story can be found for the "5 April, Picking a Leader" entry in The Daily Drucker
My friend Rob blogged about an observation he had in his MBA program, namely the propensity of his fellow students to act like Monday Morning Quarterbacks when it came to issues of ethics. Rob's case was the fraud that went on at WorldCom during the '90s.
Robs keen analogy to the monday morning quarterback is spot on. The element that's missing for the casual outside observer is situated context. The best example I can think of is sitting in the pilot seat of a Cessna, actually feeling the plane pivot and tip when practicing a cross-wind landing. Simulator alone won't prepare you for it. It's why I used to joke that after my morning lessons that my clothes would have the smell of avgas and fear! Situated context means "being there".
What happened at WorldCom, and Enron and what happens at thousands of other companies around you everyday is that the organizations do not have, nor value, empowerment. People have to feel empowered -- not enabled -- to stand up and "pull-the-chain" on the factory floor when they see a defect.
Social psychologists have studied this bystander effect, where shockingly the more people in a crowd or group, the LOWER the level of collective responsibility drops; in otherwords diffused responsibility. The "Genovese syndrome" so named after Kitty Genovese, a 1964 case of where her stabbing death was witnessed by 38 of her neighbors and not a single one called the police. By all accounts, we haven't progressed much given the disgusting gang rape incident that happened last year.
Essentially the same thing happens in businesses. An ethically impaired executive, in a position of authority, exercises bad judgment, putting the company, its employees and shareholders at risk. It usually starts with something small, an inappropriate charge to the company credit card here, a swank junket to play golf in the desert there, and eventually escalates into full fledged influence peddling. All the while their direct reports, those not in for the fun of the ride, are quietly whispering among themselves about how wrong it all seems. And yet no one is willing to stand up and pull-the-chain.
There's a line from a movie, and for the life of me I can't remember which one it was, had something to do with the idea that "most bad things people do in the world are because of a mortgage." (I thought it was "Thank you for Smoking"??)
When people have mortgages and families and "good jobs" -- they tend to let their high-minded ethics take a back-seat. Let's be perfectly honest for a moment:
There is no such thing as permanent employment.
If you let the fear of losing your job guide your ethics, you have no place in management.
Today's Big Idea: If you feel like your ethics or sense of right-and-wrong are being compromised by the company you keep, it's time to find a new company.
You might need a job, but you probably don't need this one. You should have faith in your own abilities and the courage to lead by example. Don't be a bystander.
But its easy to be a nay-sayer, drag your feet and to prevent change.
The Republican party, top to bottom is opposed to health care reform. We get that. The Democratic plan is imperfect and expensive. Very expensive. We get that. But -- it is a plan. Its something. Obama is pushing for support. Pushing hard. (Wonder if he'll go so far as to book a guest spot on Oprah?)
Block, block, block. No, no, no. We get that.
But what is the Republican alternative? To get coverage for the poor and the 'already have health issues' block of people. Anything?
This blog is about ideas -- Creating them, championing them, and sometimes -- change the world ideas. Where are the ideas in the GOP?
"Not that" is not a solution. (Palin opposed single payer health care, but used single payer health care. Natch) In every group, there are those who have ideas, and energy to move things forward. And those who while not offering ideas or energy of their own, oppose new ideas, movement and any change. The world changes. Your business is changing. Technology advances -- You can fight this, or you can think ahead. Plan. Come up with creative solutions. suggest. Support. Or fight every change.
Today's big idea: You can be part of the solution. Or you can fight it. But the world will change without you...
A reader responds with this link to the rep health care plan . Telling quote from that story "The analysis shows the Republican plan would do little to expand coverage, which Democrats were quick to point out in a late night missive to reporters." So their response is, mostly, things are fine, don't change it. Block, resist, interfere, fight.
The CBO chimes in today --- and the democratic health care plan reduces the deficit. "The Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation would reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over its first 10 years, and continue to drive down the red ink thereafter"
And the republican response? ROADBLOCK
Discussion point -- What are the tea party members in favor of? Or are they just simply opposed to everything?
Bogworld - In which joe reviews both healthcare and 'How to train your dragon."
When you introduce yourself to someone new, does the conversation almost immediately center on what you do for a living? Who you work for?
Do you think of yourself in terms of your current job title? Do you think that title accurately describes what you do? And more importantly, who you are?
Today's blog title comes from a Lao Tzu quote I really like:
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be
There is usually a pretty huge disconnect between what your job title is, what you actually do for your company, and how you get compensated for it. It's one of the reasons why in the early years at BackPack Software we didn't have official job titles and everyone in the company was paid the same salary. In fact when asked I would often joke and say that my title was "Chief Bottle Washer!"
"When the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail."
By thinking of yourself in terms of what you currently do for a living as embodied in your job title, you are creating an artificial lens by which you view the world -- and worse, you're creating a lens for other people to view you. And viewing you in any particular (anchored) way is just another form of bracketing. We might be handing people hammers...
Are we only defined by the job titles we've held? Absolutely not! And yet, that is how we may end up viewing ourselves and actually encouraging other people to see us in the same way. It's really no surprise that this very condition has been studied. It's called The Looking Glass Self -- in a nutshell our identity, or self, is the result of the concept in which we learn to see ourselves as others do. And where do these others get most of the information upon which to see us? Why from us of course!
A friend of mine was complaining about the level of gossip in her company and was getting concerned that her manager at that time was starting to get the wrong impression of her. She was seriously starting to think about leaving the company and opined that she wished she could just go someplace where no one knew her. I went online and found a sign for her to print out that she could hang in her office to remind her:
Don't Feed the Bears
As innocent as her interactions had seemed, someone always found a way to make it out to be more than it was. It was an "a-ha" moment for her and from that day forward she stopped giving people information to use against her. Even though she's since been promoted and changed locations within her company the sign still hangs in her office to this day, and she's relayed that she passes copies of it on to her "inner-circle".
So today's Big Idea is this: "Let go of who you think you are and become what you might be"