Tagged: leadership

Leading Before You Are Ready.

It felt like spring. One of those first days I noticed the sounds of birds, and the sun had already lit up the sky by 7 am. Instead of driving the boys to the bus stop like I had done all winter, I decided based on the warm air to little boy energy ratio, it was best to walk to the bus stop — our first walk down of the year.

We seem to get to the bus stop early which usually give us time to watch youtube videos, rock out to Jordan Feliz’s, Down to The River,or when parking lots are covered in ice — do donuts in the van.

Simon Says
But today we are standing on the sidewalk when Clark, my 6 year old, mentions we should play Simon Says. Clark’s personality naturally leads to offer suggestions and then take charge, so he jumps in front of Charlie, who is 4 and I stand back to play the game.

Clark can play at a pretty high level. He’s a bit older than Charlie, but he also carries a particularity about rules and games. Charlie is not as serious of a person and a little goofy. He doesn’t care so much about doing it right. Fun and goofy are his number 1. So as Clark goes through each command, I follow through on each one, only doing ‘what Simon says.’ Charlie doesn’t seem to get the concept of only doing what Simon Says, he just does whatever he feels like doing, and it drives Clark crazy. Clark tries to correct Charlie; Charlie just smiles and continues to have his fun. As we continue with this, Charlie says he wants to be Simon for a little bit. He wants to the leader.

Clark is not down with this, and his thoughts flow right through his mouth and become words. “Charlie can’t be the leader; he doesn’t even know how to play!” I reckon with Clark to go along, and we will let Charlie lead, if not only just to process through to entertain him and give him a chance.

Charlie’s Turn
As we progress through Charlie being the leader, a more directed, attuned and conscious version of him comes out. It seems he does know a bit more about Simon Says than he led on. When he is Simon, he has to be more attentive; he brings his mind to the role. I help him, and in a few rounds, he has a better picture of the game by being the leader. As a player, his actions only really affected himself, but now he’s responsible for the whole game.

The same is true in working and leading. Sometimes someone might not seem ready to lead. They don’t seem to fully understand the game and seem unfit for the role. But what’s wrong with trying; With giving someone more responsibilities to see how it plays out?

(I’m not talking about blatant lack, I’m talking about where someone shows potential, but they don’t seem ‘fully’ ready.)

Let’s say Charlie just bombed being the leader. Who cares? We let him run his course, and then put Clark back in the role. If nothing else, it’s clear, that now might not be the time.

If I’m not willing to give Charlie the opportunity; when should I wait for Charlie to lead, until he’s 100% there, then give him a chance? By that time he will be so bored without having a turn, the game might not even seem fun.

I’m more for putting out opportunities and then letting people grow into them, rather than making sure everything is ‘just ever so right,’ and all the boxes are checked before moving forward.

I’m Going to Screw Up.
Sometime’s I move to fast, and people will say “I told you so,” they will say I’m too impulsive, too trusting. But to the ones I let blossom and grow into a role, I have a feeling those people; those underdogs, who were not 100% ready are grateful for the opportunity.

Our business will continue to be a place where you don’t have to wait for seniority to lead. You don’t have to be a certain age or have some sort degree. It will be a place of action. A place where people get chances, and we watch them step into new roles and more responsibilities, and if they’re not ready, we continue to nurture, and we try again.

This is part of how we try to ‘Make everything we touch, better.’


People Are Unique and Different

Building an Amazing Company 
People make great organizations.
Try to imagine Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb. Hundreds, maybe thousands of failed attempts, to get the filament just right. Do you imagine a man with crazy hair, working by candlelight in a small shop, secluded, drawings, scribbles, and the previous failed attempts strewed across a messy shop? The genius in his studio. The mastermind in his own place. Secluded, locked away to hone in on his most intimate knowledge.
Well, that’s not true at all. Instead, imagine 100’s of people in a government funded-state of the art facility each contributing a piece to this electrical puzzle piece to come to a solution that then bore Edison’s name. Yes, Edison was a man of many talents, but it was in the power of a team, the power of an organization that brought to life the many inventions. No matter, how smart, competent, a person is – they are limited in their abilities without others.
We have about 16 people who are putting in the work to make our organization tick along. And guess what; we are all unique, different, and contribute in different ways, and are here for various reasons. We see things differently, we work differently, we are entirely different and unique. If you are on our team, I picked you because of this. I want us to share similar values and work towards a mission together, but I fully expect your unique perspective and difference. One of the primary roles of my responsibility is to take this talent, this ability and meld it together in a way that we play your strengths and we are a better whole than just the sum of its parts. I believe in a synergy where 1+1 does not equal two but can equal three, four or five.
“Each human being is born as something new, something that never existed before….Each person has a unique way of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and thinking. Each has his or her own unique potential – capabilities and limitations Each can be significant, thinking, aware, and creative being – a productive person, a winner.” – Muriel James and Dorthy Jongeward in Born To Win.

We are not moving towards touchy feely – kumbayah. I show up to work, to do work. I save my cuddles and kisses for my wife and children (see above). Work is to achieve a goal and work towards a mission. I expect the same from my team. I want to care about one another and extend grace and empathy to one another,  a spirit of caring is mandatory, but that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree or have some conflict. I expect in any worthy pursuit we should stand up for what’s best and we may disagree on that. But remember, it should be about a disagreement for what’s best for the organization, not a personal preference.

By the end of 2020, I envision we have a 38 person organization who are growing as a result of working with our company. We have a culture of accountability, caring, and results. The people on our team like the responsibilities and freedoms that come with our culture. As a team, we are born to thrive. Each person takes ownership of their accountabilities and knows how it serves the whole and drives us towards our mission and purpose.

I believe in the power of a team. I believe in the power of our organization and the goals we can accomplish together. I think we have people playing strengths that are abundantly more positioned to thrive than I could in that same role.  A team of people with all of our uniqueness, weirdness, and differences is what make great organizations thrive. Same values, different perspectives, on a journey together. Th