I have a client who sent me a late night text showing me a picture of the executive team dressed as superheros. I am sharing the picture because I like to celebrate when business leaders show such passion for their work, and have fun in front of and with their people – They also told me I could. The story behind this moment is almost 18 months of trying to capture what they value as an organization, before growth challenges them with diluting what matters because nobody has taken the time to put a stake in the ground and define it. The journey to this point is a story that would need many more words than I like to commit to my daily postings to do it justice, so I will just share the outcome of their work. Here are their values:
- I am most comfortable dressed as a Superhero
- I am a unique piece to the puzzle
- I focus on today, but dream of tomorrow
- I scoop my dog’s poop
Any company, but especially my high growth partners/clients, need to write these down, but that is only the beginning of the journey. In Good to Great, Jim Collins shares the three things about values that he found in great companies. In great companies, they do three things with their values:
- Define Them/Know what they are
- Build them into the organization
- Preserve them over time
The truth around values is this picture is part of step 1. There is work to be done, but great companies know that celebrations have to happen to name significant steps that they have taken. Celebrations mean FUN and showing up as people who passionately believe in the words being shared, not just leaders reading the script they were given. This group of leaders inspires me.
What are some of the unique and inspiring values that you have seen companies share and build into their culture?
This week I spoke to a group of entrepreneurs at Start Garden, an incubator in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After receiving support from a program called Fast Track to start my own business, I pledged to us my Google-time (10% of my time) to connect with programs that help others start their own businesses and/or allow me to hang out with great people. Start Garden meets both criteria. Here are two things I learned from my workshop:
1. To get feedback, you have to ask for it: In dozens of appearances, I have found it very hard to get constructive feedback. For this presentation I took my teenage daughter and told her ahead of time that I would like some feedback about what improvements I could make. When I asked her after I was done she shared “Dad, at the end your closing kind of dragged. People want to get going, and you could have kept the pace moving a little better as you went around the room for your closing.” She was right, and next time I will be better because she cared enough to share. The best way to get feedback is to ask for it before you start.
2. Entrepreneurs love to learn: We were talking about leadership, and had some very frank discussions about barriers to leading well, but we never got stuck in what facilitators call a ‘negative spiral’. We acknowledged what made it hard to lead, but quickly moved past it to what they could do to be better leaders. It is what I try to do as a facilitator, but I know that when it is easy – the groups gets part of the credit. Entrepreneurs see the opportunities in anything, which is why it is fun to hang around them.
Here is a copy of my presentation if you are interested. It was themed around a John Wayne movie that I loved.
My question: If you had to share one thing with a group of entrepreneurs about leadership, what would it be?