How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed In the Back, My Fingerprints Are on the Knife, by Jerry Harvey, is without doubt, my favorite book title of all time. The book is a series of Harvey’s essays on how we collude in the outcomes in our personal and professional lives through the choices we make. At the core, his message is all about taking responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
After his passing, I wrote a eulogy about Professor Harvey. He is best known for his book and a concept detailed within the book; Abilene Paradox. However, my favorite of Harvey’s essays, is where he describes his concept of “non-teaching.”
While discussing the link between initiative and leadership, a female executive (MJ) in her early thirties and new to her managerial position asked (challenged rather),
“What would you do if you had this really great idea to improve our team efficiency, and your boss rejected your idea?”
Finding the Answer
Think of a class you’ve wanted to take. Tuition is paid, supplies purchased. You enter the room on the first day. The professor hands out a syllabus listing everything you need to do to earn an "A" in the class. The measurements of success are defined for you.
In our Facilitative Leadership Program (FLP), we spend a great deal of time discussing roles and role descriptions. We believe that the purpose of Role Description is to learn how to perform the role better today than yesterday, on your way to the goal of becoming not only competent, but a virtuoso, in the role you play.
There are many facets to becoming a virtuoso in your role. Arguably, the most important is passion and purpose for your role, team, and company. Passion and purpose, or lack thereof, manifests itself in how engaged a person is in their job.
This quote, in particular, resonated with CEOs and executives alike,in our community. No matter what level in a company the person holds, everyone has their version of dealing with this issue.
We all have jobs, families, commitments, and typically don't want to let any one of our commitments go, and in doing so, we create the "What Matters?" dilemma.
This parallels some of the work we do In our Facilitative Leadership Program. Part of our study is the work of Peter Blocks, The Answer to How is Yes-Acting On What Matters.
The moral bucket list requires an on-going process, to become the kind of virtuoso Brooks describes. This list parallels what it takes to be a facilitative leader as well as a good human. Becoming a great leader has all the elements of becoming a great person. It too is an ongoing process to become a virtuoso.
"It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?" David Brooks
In our last blog post, we asked the question, what would happen to you, to your family, team or organization, if you kept score of "promises made and promises kept"? Our CEO and Key Executive groups, have been doing this for awhile now and have come up with some unique ways of scoring - almost as unique as each of them. How pretty it is, doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is your commitment to it.
Now that we are in the third week of January, it's fitting to revisit Promises Made, Promises Kept. I did this 12 minute TEDx presentation on the topic, and wanted to share it with you now.
Three weeks into the new year, are you living up to your commitments? Are you keeping score?
How often have you heard someone say, or even a business, promise that we "do what we say we will do." Nary once have I ever heard say, "we don't keep our commitments." Working with business leaders lead me to the observation that far fewer promises were being kept than made. Indeed there may even be a bit of a charade going on that the promisor and promisee (sorry terminology left over from my lawyer days creeps in periodically) never had clarity in the first place about what the promise was.
In thinking about 2015 goals, and reviewing all the well-wishing emails at the end of 2014, I ran across an article published in the Harvard Business Review by Sarah Green and Gretchen Gavett and this Bob Newhart skit, "Stop It." If you haven't seen it, take a look.
So, what are the top 5 things that are not serving you well, that you will stop doing in 2015? Let me know. I'm compiling a list and will publish my findings later in the year.