I walked out of my office and headed around the corner to the conference room for my staff meeting. I wasn’t sure who exactly would be there, but, as always, I was excited to meet with my team.
There were five or six of us in the room, and my assistant had already dialed in the others. We kicked it off with our standard meeting agenda item -”Slow down and inspire” — and then went into the rest of the agenda, solving problems like were were actors in a made-up Marvel series, Guardians of the Workplace.
Oh wait. I should…
Over the last year, you’ve worn countless sweatshirts on Zoom calls, taken meetings while walking, and even brought Fido, your adorable Shih Tzu, into a few calls. Well done.
However, and I hate to break it to you, that doesn’t necessarily make you an “authentic leader”.
The pandemic clearly was a massive tailwind for authenticity in the workplace. And I think it’s safe to say that this step-back from polished perfection has been a refreshing positive amongst all the tragedy of the past year+.
But, being a true authentic leader takes much more than wearing a hoodie to a video…
It was a teeny bit embarrassing. I had just kicked off one of the most important negotiations of my career. I was brand new in the COO role for my company, and one of my first assignments was a contract negotiation that pretty much could make-or-break the company.
And I had no clue what to do.
I remember sitting down with the senior executive from the other company. He was a very nice gentleman, but clearly someone that had decades more experience than I had.
Without much thought, I blurted out, “So, what’s important to you in this negotiation?”
I finally realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Here is the start of my journey to change.
Like you likely have felt, I’ve been overrun with emotion over the last few weeks. And ignorance.
I’m a problem solver. And I’m extremely impatient. So when George Floyd’s murder shed a big-ass spotlight on racial injustice, I wanted to jump right into talking about it: what do we do? how do we solve?
Even just last week, my podcast co-host and I recorded a podcast episode, discussing the event and ensuing protests and movement. …
The term “culture” came up, and so I asked him, “What does ‘culture’ mean?”
He quickly responded, “Other people’s realities.”
Incredible. I couldn’t have defined it more succinctly that that.
Then I asked a follow-up question, “Do you think there’s a ‘culture’ in companies?”
His response: “No clue.”
My son is no different than most adults. We all know company culture is important, but it’s much harder to actually define — let alone change — it.
We all know that a strong company culture can make or break a company.
Recently, I shared part three of a four-part mini-series detailing our company’s journey to focus on culture. If you are just joining us now, you can read part one here, part two here and part three here. Today is the fourth and final part four in the mini-series.
Up until this point, our company’s journey to focus on culture had yielded terrific results. We encouraged people to share their successes, and people even began sharing personal achievements such as weight loss goals.
And then one day, one of our leaders asked to meet. She wanted to share her story with…
Once we decided to take our cultural journey, I wondered how we would know whether all the time and effort we put into it would yield a return on investment.
It didn’t take long. The feedback came in fast and furious. You see, it wasn’t about some “thing” getting better. It was about people … And those people were impacted immediately.
It started first with the leaders. Most of them had never been invested in like that. They were overwhelmed by what they learned, the bonds they made with others and the incredible feeling that they were 100 percent enabled…
Earlier, I shared part one of a four-part mini-series detailing our company’s journey to focus on culture. Today is part two in the mini-series!
After our company decided to embark on a cultural journey, we started first by doing some “discovery” — we talked to other organizations within the broader enterprise. We learned about things they had done. We developed a culture “board of directors” — a multi-level, multi-disciplined, multi-location advisory team.
We even went on a field trip to another company that had done a culture transformation. We then partnered with a leadership consulting team to create a strong…
For me, the awakening was about a year ago.
I was standing on stage speaking to about 200 employees. I am an extrovert. In situations like that, the energy I get from the people in the room is off the charts.
I was speaking about how far our organization had come in the last few years. The pride in the room was palpable. It was in that moment I realized there was momentum here, and there was capacity to do more.
I knew I could multiply the pride I saw in that moment many times over if I pivoted my…
It was just hours before we kicked off our first-ever leadership event. Approximately 100 people were driving or flying in for two and a half days of inspiring goodness.
This pre-meeting was all about making sure I was prepared and ready with my opening and closing speeches. I admit, I had a bit of a reputation for “winging things.”
One of the women from the consulting team asked if I was planning to show the video they suggested. You might have seen it; it’s called “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.” For some reason, this video has gone viral.