Our “Word” is Earned – Good or Bad

“I’ll take care of that.”

At the moment you utter those words, those to whom you have made your promise will think one of two things:

  1. No he won’t.  He never gets anything done on time, and I need to plan accordingly.
  2. That’s a huge relief.  He will get it done, and he will get it done right.

Our “word” is known to our colleagues and clients, perhaps better than it is known to us.

So, is your word your bond, or is your word empty?

Your word is your reputation – guard it… jealously.



Leading In The Real World

Leading, when things are going well can be a great joy.  Those times when you have great stories of success to share with your colleagues and when in general, the plan comes together;  it is a very satisfying and rewarding time.   You,  your team, and your plans are validated!

When things aren’t going so well, when the stories are a bit tougher to tell, when your plans didn’t work, the feeling is anything but joyful – it can be gut wrenching.  The truth is, it’s just no fun to be the leader at those moments.

But being a leader isn’t just about celebrating the good times.   Who wouldn’t want to be in a leadership position if all you did was celebrate the good news and delegate the bad news.

In his exceptional book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins writes, “Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.”  Facing the brutal facts is often times extremely painful because they may lead to painful decisions.  Making painful decisions requires fortitude (to put it nicely).   And it requires that you demonstrate that your leadership is more than words, it is decisive action.

Facts, brutal or otherwise, are just that – facts.  It’s not about blame and it’s certainly not about excuses.

When you hit that rough patch, don’t linger on the bad news; confront the reality, make course corrections and move forward…confidently.

Be an idiot – it’s the only way to succeed

I had the great pleasure to hear Carla Bailo, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Nissan Americas, speak recently.

Listening to her reminded me that great leaders, regardless of whom they may be leading, have some common attributes.   In particular, I’ve noticed that great leaders make a point of learning from everyone they encounter.  They ask a lot of questions…and really listen…learn…and…apply.

In discussing her five year stint in Japan, Ms. Bailo said when you are in such a new environment; it’s your opportunity to “be an idiot.”  You aren’t expected to know anything, so you can safely ask a lot of questions.  In essence a license to be an idiot.

Ms. Bailo is anything but… In fact, as she provided some of the rules by which she lives, in the recent presentation, her wisdom was evident.   Here is my best attempt to recreate a few of them based on my chicken scratch notes.

Optimism finds a solution, negative is useless

Debate leads to the best decision

Promise and deliver – without fail

Fear and resistance are to be overcome

Failure breads success

Challenge the accepted way

Never forget to have fun

Don’t take everything personally, avoid getting a chip on your shoulder

Don’t regret mistakes, fix them

Treat others as you would want to be treated

Be open to criticism and be willing to change and improve

Listen. Listen. Listen.

It’s easy to see why Ms. Bailo is in the position she is – she is a humble, lifelong learner.   I hope to learn and apply some of her wisdom in my life.  Indeed, we should all feel empowered to be an idiot; it’s the only way to avoid really being one.