Mission 38—Can you hear me now? Wireless exec introduces 100 managers to Responsibility Redefined

I'm the VP now and I get to decide what messages my people hear

I've just returned from the new South Point Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas image of South Point Casino Hotelwhere I spent two days with 100 managers of one of the major US wireless providers. It was Mission #38 for 2007 and turned out to be an exceptional platform for Responsibility Redefined. Here's why…

Seven years ago my client "the exec" was a first-line manager in a Dallas call center. He attended Knowledge Team Leadership (then called Being Powerful in Any Team) with his Director and peer managers. He says the experience changed that team, his life, and career. That team went on to accomplish great things and its leader has shared many stories with me over the years. But I haven't much talked to the exec. I knew he was out there because every couple of years I'd get a brief "atta-boy" from him to an issue of Responsibility eTips. 

A few months ago a meeting planner in his group called and said the exec had recently been promoted to VP overseeing operations involving 7000 people and had asked her to call me and check my availability. He was holding his first managers meeting and wanted to introduce his new management team to Responsibility Redefined and Teamwork Is An Individual Skill.  

Getting Connected

When I got the exec on the phone, and after congratulating him on his rapid ascent, I asked him "why me, why now?" And this is what he said:

I'm the VP now and I get to decide what messages my people hear. Yours is the first message I want them to hear. It is the most powerful and useful leadership perspective I've learned. Responsibility Redefined has had a huge impact on me personally and on my approach to teamwork and leadership. And it will be central to the responsible leadership culture I intend to develop in this region.

Our plan was to have me spend the first afternoon of the three-day meeting introducing his managers to Responsibility Redefined, and then the next morning introducing them to Teamwork Is An Individual Skill. Then, they were going to apply what they learned while exploring and deciding their top priorities for the region for the next year. His expectation was that the material would

  • open them up to how responsibility works,
  • "lubricate" them to take individual and collective ownership, and
  • lead each to see the contribution they could make to the group, as well as the contribution the group can make to each individual. 

As a quick aside, this is a great application of this material. In the last three years I have frequently been asked to open an off-site meeting with a Responsibility Redefined keynote or workshop. Clients report that it complete focuses the conversations that follow, and the Responsibility Redefined language is noticed and used. It changes the conversation.

The Event 

In Las Vegas, when the exec introduced me to his 100 managers here is what he said:

I want you to commit to engaging mentally this afternoon. This is not rah-rah motivational material, but it is inspiring. This is powerful information about how you dictate your own life like it or not. It will challenge you, it will be hard work this afternoon, and if you are not mentally engaged you will miss it.

I was introduced to Christopher and this message seven years ago. That meeting where we met stands out in my mind as the most profound and powerful learning experience of my life and career. It set my trajectory as a leader. It can do the same for you. My hope is that Responsibility Redefined is how we conduct our business together and how we lead this organization.

With a set-up like that, I definitely had people's attention! And they learned, and they worked, and they engaged, and they threw themselves into every exercise I gave them. And at the end of the day they said "cool" and "awesome" and "amazing." 

Responsibility Redefined Lessons

There are so many I could draw here, but I'll highlight three:

  1. Responsibility Redefined is foundational and fundamental to positive leadership. The exec's story is amazing, but to him and to me, it is completely believable. It is not magic. It is the everyday practice of Responsibility Redefined applied to organizational leadership. Of course he's enjoyed a rapid ascent in his career. He's a smart guy with excellent management skills, and a passion for positive leadership based on mastering his own Responsibility Process.
  2. Changing the conversation from Lay Blame and Justify, Shame and Obligation, to Responsibility. Even a brief dip into the waters of Responsibility Redefined (for instance through a workshop) will expose good people's tendencies to casually practice Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, and Obligation so that they then immediately begin to catch themselves and change their language which changes their thoughts. When you change the conversation about responsibility you change people's thoughts and actions. When you eliminate wasteful thought and action what's left is valuable thoughts and value-adding actions. It's the new Quality… Continuous Improvement in thinking and action by simply  eliminating the waste.
  3. Context does make a difference. You can practice Responsibility anywhere and anytime. And I do my best to do so. But when you have a positive, confident, and humble leader holding the space for Responsibility Redefined, it sure makes it enjoyable to spread the word. Not only was it enjoyable for me as the vessel for the message and the learning experience, but it was clear to me how enjoyable it was for the managers. Imagine having to listen to me or someone else teaching Responsibility Redefined if your leader didn't practice it… That's why I generally offer Responsibility Redefined as a personal practice, not a corporate one, so audience members can choose where to practice responsibility. And that's why I'm only interested in coaching senior leaders who want to master responsibility for themselves, so they can create a context—culture—of responsible leadership and culture.
Posted in Leadership, Teamwork on 10/23/2007 06:57 am
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