Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Staying True to Yourself

Sometimes you do not want to cause any waves. Occasionally the situation demands that you have to jump out of the water.

By the time you get close to sixty years old, some pretty strong ideas have become your close companions. They turn out to be great friends especially in tough times.

In those few decades you have also likely decided which battles are worth fighting and which are better ignored.

In my business career of nearly forty years, I have not seen many meetings that mattered much in the long run. The organizations where I have seen real success really do not need meetings to get their job done. They sense what needs doing, and it gets handled.

In these cases, the leaders of the teams spend most of their time running interference so that the team members can focus on their important tasks.

However, meetings happen, and there is not much you can do about them since so many organizations believe that you measure progress by meetings or by Powerpoint presentations.

It was always my theory in my fortune 500 career that the longer you could go without a meeting, the more likely things were working well. On the flip side, when times get tough companies demand more meetings to figure out what is wrong. Most of the people at the customer level already know the problems, unfortunately they do not have the power to fix them.

Sometimes organizational structures do not even allow executives to see these real problems.

In spite of my distaste for meetings, trying to prevent them is not worth the fight. It is much easier to go to them, try to learn something, and hope they do not last very long.

While I might not ripple the water over a meeting, I will jump out of the water over being instructed how to handle my clients.

I have never cared what sales promotion is in place or what bonuses are being paid, I am going to do what is best for my client or customer. That is the way it is supposed to be. If I have to make some waves over treating my clients right, I will. That is a fight worth the effort.

This is not a new philosophy, it is just the way I operate.

One of my simple rules is to never ask anyone to do something that I will not attempt to do myself. If manure needs shoveling, hand me one of the shovels.

The second rule is to treat everyone like you would want to be treated.

My third rule is to respect the work of every individual no matter what they do.

The final rule is to ask more of myself than I ask of anyone else.

Of course in order for these things to be effective, you have to deliver on them.

It is important to say what you are going to do and then do exactly what you said.

That's how I stay true to myself.

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