"The Man, The Mission, The Passion" Husband, Father, Attorney, CPA, Steward Leader, Entrepreneur, MBA, Author, Builder, HBS OPM 25 Class, Mentor, Teacher

The Courage to Lead

The Courage to Lead: I’m Still a Work in Progress, Always Will Be.

For a long time I was reluctant to engage in certain forms of leadership. The straight business side, such as goal setting, planning, and directing were always relatively easy for me. It was on the deeper side, the spiritual side, the inspirational side, that I always tended to shy away from.

I did not want to disappoint anyone. I did not want to appear to be a hypocrite, saying one thing and doing another. I did not want to espouse ideals that I did not fully live up to. I was so very aware of how easy it is to piously mouth noble thoughts and then repeatedly fail to live up to them. And I also was aware that while principles are often simple in theory, the application of principles in the real world can be knotty and reasonable people can differ (see “Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right,” by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr.).

Furthermore, I knew that even when one tries to do one’s best, one does not always deliver the desired result. All too often in my own organization, I’ve not been overly pleased with some outcome and looked for answers only to find that the inputs/effort were intelligent, well thought out, and aimed at the right target. Somehow life happened and the only thing to do was learn from the experience, refine the process, and try again smarter and wiser.


Learning your Learning Style

“It is what we think we know that keeps us from learning.”
— Chester Barnard

Everyone has a learning style or a preferred way of learning, a way by which we best process information. Some prefer to hear new information, others prefer to see it graphically, others may prefer to read it. Some people like their information all at once, while others prefer to process it in smaller bits, to have time to warm up to it. Some are morning people, others come alive at night. Some like to discuss things in a group, handling the information verbally, tossing it around, seeing how others see it or react to it. Others prefer to mull it over in their own minds first, come to their own conclusions before they interact.


Principles of Communication

Principles of Communication for Collier Enterprises and Paradigm Properties

Open Communication:
I strongly believe in low hierarchy, team oriented culture with open, free flowing, 360-degree communication.

Principles of Communication:

  • Honor those not present
  • Tell the truth with civility, compassion, and respect
  • Communicate with good intentions and an open heart (and not to advance personal agenda)
  • Value differences, disagree without making others wrong, i.e. acknowledge their good intentions and the impact of different perspectives/experiences.

In today’s fast changing, highly competitive world, the organizations that thrive will be those that find a way to fully tap the potential, the intellect, the knowledge, and the enthusiasm of ALL levels of the organization. Relevant information must be allowed to flow quickly and freely throughout the entire organization with little regard for traditional organizational charts or ego.

It is best to err on the side of open communication, since you never know what will

  • Help someone else do his or her job better
  • Help others learn
  • Access someone else’s storehouse of knowledge and spark a vital sharing of experience.

It is hard to over-communicate, especially when well written emails can keep the cost of communication low. Cost of communication comes not in money but in time. The cost of sending an email is the time in takes to write it AND the time it takes for others to open it and read it.

Effective use of the email subject line as a summary line/headline allows everyone to keep a finger on the pulse of the organization with minimal time investment.

Because I am challenged to stay current and I have a voracious desire to learn, I tend to cc a lot to help others stay current and expect the same.

Using the subject line effectively
Think of yourself as a headline writer for a newspaper. Your task (the word game if you will) is to put forth the “vital facts’ as succinctly as possible.
PS: No teasers! The writer’s task is NOT to “tease” the reader into reading the body.

The old style command and control mentality belongs in the Dark Ages, as does hoarding or restricting the flow of information as a means of power, control, or attempting to hide problems or avoid painful feedback.

The “shame of blame” and the “gotcha” perspectives also are remnants of the past. Responsibility must be assumed, lessons must be learned, but if we expect people to be open with information about mistakes and challenges, we as an organization and as individuals must respond with a genuine attitude of assistance.

We respond to mistakes and problems as would EMTs in an ambulance to assist and repair, not as avenging angels to punish. We do not want to make repeated mistakes, we expect a rapid learning curve, and our basic attitude/approach is to help, to assist a Team Member as best we can, to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, but not conduct a Spanish Inquisition!

Since so many people come in expecting the blame/gotcha approach, because it is so, so deeply engrained in the mass culture, we must be extremely proactive in avoiding any of the trademarks of blame/gotcha.

This includes being very clear when we counsel someone on the principles of communication that we emphasize that we really do honor, appreciate, and NEED the underlying communication. And this may require that we honestly examine the subtle nuances of our own hearts and motivations.