Less Talk, More Action…

action carly diversity ethicalleadership ethics fiorina inclusion john leadership maxwell success Aug 12, 2020

Originally shared in A Daily Dose Of Leadership on July 10, 2020.

A I closed the last blog where we looked at how important it is for us to not only set the example for our team to follow when challenges come our way, but to also intentionally guide our team members in how they respond to challenges, I suggested that this may not always involve changing the course we’re already on…

In addition to the mentorship and licensing we’ve gotten access to through our affiliation with The John Maxwell Team, we’ve been able to develop friendships with some absolutely amazing people. We had crossed paths a few times with a gentleman named Kevin who lives just outside DC but we hadn’t gotten to know him all that well. When we connected with Carly Fiorina and offered to volunteer on some of the non-profit projects she was working on, we connected with Kevin once again. Still not knowing him too well, I contacted him directly and asked if he’d be open to catching up over coffee the same afternoon that Cindy and I met with Carly and her team. 

As I’ve explained with the DISC Model of Human Behavior numerous times in this series, people can do the exact same thing but for very different reasons… As that highly DRIVEN person I’ve explained over and over, I don’t always stop to consider why others do what they do; I often just assume they have goals that are similar to mine… I got involved with The John Maxwell Team to get licensed to share the content that had been so influential for me over the previous 15 years and to help build authentic leaders in our community. We’ve since developed our entire business model around developing leaders in the organizations we work with, as well as providing world class tools for building more effective communication into every aspect of their culture.

While Kevin’s goal was indeed similar, he didn’t work through the certification process to build a business; he already had one. And although we didn’t have a true understanding of exactly what he did when I first asked if he’d be willing to catch up for coffee, we’ve learned a lot about him and his organization since.

Around 20 years ago, several years after he left the United States Air Force, Kevin and his business partner founded their current company. For the sake of time, I won’t cover what they do in specific detail but I will share that their company is very similar in size to the manufacturing facility I worked at for nearly 20 years. And while they also have over 600 employees and do around a quarter billion in annual revenue, their team works across the country – adding multiple layers of potential challenges I just didn’t have to deal with when nearly everyone was under one roof.

The most impressive thing I’ve seen from Kevin so far has been how intentional he is about leading his company effectively. One of the ways he does that is by getting on calls with Mark Cole, the CEO and co-owner of the John Maxwell Enterprise of companies, (the same calls Cindy is on with Mark several times each week) to bounce ideas and issues around with Mark to get an outside leadership perspective.

Just after several of the events that occurred in different large cities around Memorial Day, the entire country was swirling with civil unrest. It seemed like every company on the planet was issuing a statement about their support for minorities, specifically the black community. Kevin’s question to Mark was fairly simple at face value, but it drives a strong point… He asked, “Having worked very intentionally for over 15 years to build a strong culture of diversity and inclusion across each business unit in our organization, should I really consider issuing a statement now like I’m seeing so many other organizations issue?”

Mark’s reply was also simple, “If you don’t have an issue, what purpose would a statement really serve?”

There was certainly more to their conversation than that but I won’t go into it all here. However, I was able to talk with Kevin for about an hour recently to dig deeper into his company’s culture as well as his conversation with Mark. Kevin shared that in talking with his leadership team, as well as a very diverse group of team members throughout the company in one on one settings, they determined that the organization had such a strong culture already in place that making a statement at that point would be quite unnecessary.

In his company’s case, they didn’t need to say it because they had been doing it for more than a decade! Less talk, more action…

Following the theme we’ve been looking at over the last several days, what steps have you taken to this point to provide this kind of example for everyone on your team? In so many cases, companies come up with wonderful mission and vision statements that have no resemblance to any behavior that’s ever been exhibited on their property. Those statements get printed on beautiful paper and hung in expensive frames for all the employees and customers to see, but quite often there’s no action to back them up.

As Kevin and I talked, his suggestion was that a leader of an organization will earn far more trust and credibility with their team when they just do what needs to be done rather than telling everyone what they’re going to do, especially if they should have been doing it all along. And that ties right back to what we looked at in a recent Leading At The Next Level lesson called A Cycle for Success in ANY Endeavor with trust serving as the foundation for that cycle… He also emphasized that there’s very little we can do to change our culture immediately when we find ourselves in a challenging situation, or ever in a time of crisis, but we can absolutely start preparing right now so we’re better when we face the next one! (and that’s exactly what we looked at in Different Name, Same Challenge…)

Moral of this story that’s been a bit longer than the usual: we all need tools to build our own leadership strengths and to build the leaders around us!