Leadership Lessons from Dick Winters

I am a big World War II history buff.  One of my favorite books, “Band of Brothers” by Stephen Ambrose was made into a wonderful HBO series.  If you’ve seen this series, or have read the book, you know who Dick Winters is.  If not, Dick Winters was one of the first officers of Easy Company of the 506th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) of the 101st Airborne Division (also known as the “Screaming Eagles”).

Easy Company was involved in a lot of the major battles in the European Theater.  This says a lot about the caliber of the soldiers in the unit, as well as the leadership of the unit.  Dick Winters embodied the spirit and leadership that made this unit great.

I recently read Dick Winters’ book “Beyond Band of Brothers, The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters.”  This highly personal book is rich with leadership lessons.  One of the things that struck me was Winters’ admission that he was more comfortable with the front-line troops than he was with other officers.  I believe this helped him maintain his credibility with the troops.  They viewed him as “one of them” instead of an aloof officer.   The first leadership lesson I learned was the power of credibility.

A leader (either good or bad) will set an example to his/her followers.  The example, if it’s a bad one, will set a tone with the followers.  The second leadership lesson was If the leader’s example is a good one, followers will gladly follow.  As a combat leader, Winters tried to set a positive example in all he did.  One aspect was his personal grooming.  Dick Winters shaved every day, regardless of the combat conditions.  In his book, he said that he did this because one of his early commanders instructed the officers to shave every day.  The quote was “do it for the men in the morning; do it for the ladies in the evening.”  Dick Winters shaved every morning to set the example for the Easy Company soldiers.

Dick Winters was a humble man.  I believe humility is a requirement to be a good leader.  In one engagement in the war (which was portrayed in the HBO series), Dick Winters single-handedly engaged a rather large contingent of German troops.  He was on his own for precious minutes before his troops caught up with him (in his words – “I had to lead from the front”).  After this engagement, Winters was asked to write up an after-action review.  During this review, he never used the word “I” once – he wanted to give credit to his troops.  Dick Winters got great satisfaction from “the look of respect in the eyes of my men.”  The third leadership lesson was that a humble leader wants his or her team to succeed and get credit for their hard work.

Later in life, Dick Winters was asked to speak on leadership.  This was initially a bit awkward to him (he didn’t want the credit).  Eventually, he boiled down his view of leadership into ten items:

Leadership at the Point of the Bayonet: Ten Principles for Success

by Major Dick Winters Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Div. (“The Band of Brothers”)

1. Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.

2. Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.

3. Stay in top physical shape; physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.

4. Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.

5. Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination and creativity.

6. Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.

7. Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.

8. Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.

9. True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.

10. Hang Tough! Never, ever, give up.

(From Beyond Band of Brothers, The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, by Dick Winters and Col. Cole C. Kingseed. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 2006. page 293.)

I find his ten points clear, simple, and effective.  If this philosophy of leadership was good enough to lead Easy Company through World War II, it should be good enough to apply in the battles of life and business today!

Bitter or Better?

“When something bad happens to you, you have a choice to be bitter or better.  There’s only one letter difference between those two words, but a world of difference between the response.”  I don’t remember where I heard this, but was profoundly changed by this approach to dealing with bad outcomes.  I’ve used this concept in my own life and have also used it in my coaching and mentoring role.  It’s a universal concept that can help a person choose a response that will help them improve.

As a person of the Christian faith, I know I shouldn’t respond to negative events in a way that shows bitterness.  I’ve witnessed many people who routinely do that, and I am not impressed with how bitterness can turn a person into a miserable human being.  I decided I didn’t want to be one of those miserable people.  I admit that my initial response to a negative event is to strike out against the cause or the person behind the negative event.  That’s human nature.  It’s not “natural” to initially consider how I could have handled the situation better.  Once I make a decision to set aside my hurt or negative feelings, I feel an immediate sense of relief.  As I sit writing this, I find myself at that crossroads yet again.  In the past two days, a couple of negative events have happened in my life.  I’m struggling to deal with these events in a positive way.  I would prefer to stay in the “woe is me” state and lash out at the people and events that aren’t going the way I want.  At this crossroad, I can choose to stay in my current mental state (a personal “pity party” if you will), or I can choose a different path.  

How do I go about choosing a different path?  The first thing I do is to ask myself if my current state of mind is helping or hurting the situation.  If I’m not making the situation better, I need a change of attitude.  Will continuing down the bitter path provide a positive outcome?  Once I ask myself that question, it is clear that I need a change of direction.  I then ask what I can do differently.  That is the first step.  As you start down a different path, it’s essential to have confirmation that this different path is the correct one.  I have found that sharing my situation with my accountability partner both validates the path and ensures I’ve got someone who has my back.  If you don’t have an accountability partner, simply share your situation and desire to change paths with 1-2 close friends.  Simply sharing can enhance your likelihood for success, as it provides a heightened level of accountability.

Once I’ve changed paths, is the problem over?  No – not by a long shot!  I have often faced very tough challenges once I’ve tried to change paths.  It’s imperative that you build feedback into your journey to ensure that you stay committed to the new path.  Again, this is where an accountability partner can help with the situation.  It’s been said that feedback is a gift.  You have to maintain this mindset in order to stay the course with becoming better.

As the dust settles, and the raw emotions from the initial negative event have passed, I find that my mind has clarity about the initial situation and the new path I’m on.  This allows me to stay the better course and avoid the bitter course.

In closing, remember that life is tough.  We will face many trials and negative situations.  You don’t always have the power to choose the situations you face.  You do have the choice on how you respond.  I hope you can choose to become better, not bitter.  It is a simple, yet profound choice.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  Have you experienced bitterness?  Have you felt the positive feeling associated with choosing to become better and not bitter?

Divine Appointment

As a leader, who is a Christian, I strongly believe in divine intervention and divine appointments.   On Monday, May 21, 2018, I was on the receiving end of a divine appointment.   I had just enjoyed a wonderful weekend with my family.  My girls (wife, two daughters, and granddaughter) spent over three days of great bonding time.  We took a good road trip, enjoyed time with my 87-year-old father, and then spent Sunday with my extended family.

Monday morning in Dallas, I had to leave my girls and take a flight back to Houston for work.   They waited with me at the hotel while I ordered an Uber to DFW.   I said my goodbyes when my ride showed up and went to put my luggage in the Uber’s trunk.   When I looked in the trunk, I saw three books: a Bible, a concordance, and a John Maxwell book (Developing the Leader Within You 2.0).   I introduced myself to Timothy, my driver.

In the car, I told Timothy I saw the three books in his trunk and was impressed.   I then spent the next 40 minutes in the best Uber ride I’ve enjoyed.   I found out that Timothy is a pastor and fellow student of leadership.   We talked about faith, family, leadership, and John Maxwell.   Timothy told me he wasn’t looking forward to his Uber shift that day, but was so encouraged after our ride that he was looking forward to the day.   I shared that I was sad to be separated from my girls, and wasn’t looking forward to my day either.   After our ride, I was excited to tackle work and the week.   What a blessing!

Why did I think this ride was so special?   I feel that Timothy and I were two men needing comfort, support, and encouragement so we could go about our work to provide for our families.   That’s exactly what we got that Monday morning.   Divine appointments are wonderful things!

As a leader, you need to be always on the lookout for divine appointments.  Through it, you can grow into the leader you are meant to be.

I hope this post gives someone the encouragement they need to face the challenge that confronts them.   On May 21, 2018, I was encouraged to take the time to connect with Timothy in an intentional way.  If this post encourages you, chalk it up to divine intervention!

Leadership Legacy

What legacy are you leaving as a leader?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the legacy I left as a leader.  In April of 2019, I completed 40 years of service at Chevron.  At the end of August, 2019, I retired from Chevron.  Over the past year or so, I’ve reflected on my legacy.  In particular, I’ve been wondering whether two questions are aligned:

  • What legacy did I want to leave at Chevron?
  • What legacy have I left at Chevron?

My reflection has caused a good bit of internal angst.  In particular, how could I have wasted 40 years in creating the legacy that I didn’t want?  Is there any way in the last few months of my employment I could have overcome my existing legacy if it wasn’t what I wanted?

Let me give you a little background on this issue.  I first started thinking about retirement in the summer of 2018, then, a job came up that involved a promotion.  This job was one I didn’t feel technically qualified for, but was encouraged to post for by a key executive who said I had the leadership skills necessary for the job.  I spent a few weeks getting prepared for this promotion, only to find out I didn’t get the role.  Shortly after, I found out that my boss would be moving to a new role.  I surely thought I was the most qualified person to replace him.  The person selected to replace my boss was someone who had worked for me a few years prior.  It was at this point that I understood my career advancement at Chevron was over.  I planned for my retirement, and worked closely with my new boss to ensure a smooth transition.

I’ve stated in a prior post what I wanted to be remembered for (https://mrhensonllc.com/retirement-reflections/).  There were six key things I wanted to be known for:

  1. My devotion to family
  2. Adding value
  3. Negotiating well
  4. Developing my team members
  5. Coaching and mentoring
  6. My humor on the job

The past year has prompted a lot of reflection.  As the emotions of 2018 and 2019 have settled down, it has dawned on me that a true leader’s legacy should boil down to three key things:

  1. The organization not only moves on from the leader, but improves.
  2. People who have been trained, mentored, and developed by the leader become the new leaders.
  3. The true mark of a leader is that his/her followers surpass them in leadership roles.

Did I leave the legacy I wanted to leave?  Only time and my team members will tell.  After much reflection (and a great year devoted solely to my family), I’m satisfied with what I did at Chevron.  Could I have done better?  Sure, but I’ve come to grips with that as well.

I’d love to hear what you think of leadership legacy.

Retirement Reflections

(Originally written June 13, 2018 – please read all the way for an update from 2021)

I just recently celebrated my 39-year service anniversary at Chevron.  I’ve attended retirement celebrations for many friends lately.  I’m asked frequently by coworkers when I’m retiring.  At this date, I still haven’t decided when I’ll retire.  I have spent a good deal of time reflecting on my career.  I’ve also spent some time thinking of the legacy I hope to have left here at Chevron.  I encourage everyone (regardless of age) to ask yourself what you want to be remembered for.  If you’re at the start of your career, this will help guide you.  If you’re mid-career, you have time to correct course.  If you’re at the end of your career, you’ll have the ability to evaluate if your legacy is what you intended.

I want to be remembered for:

  • My devotion to my family:  While I’ve had a long career at Chevron, my life is my family.  I work to provide for my wife and daughters.  Work is not my life – it is a means to an end for me.  I hope that this has been evident in my dealings at work.
  • Adding value:  I had the privilege of meeting Zig Ziglar when I was in high school.  One of my favorite quotes from him is “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  I hope to have lived my life at work fulfilling that quote.   Adding value to others makes me feel like I’ve truly accomplished something.  I hope I’ve added value to my colleagues.
  • Negotiating well:  I want to also be known as a person who added value to my employer by negotiating solid deals.  I don’t want to be known as the “easy mark” (the person easily taken advantage of in a negotiation) nor do I want to be known as the “sleazy dealmaker” who is always taking advantage of others.  I want to be a respected negotiator.
  • Developing my team members:  I get an amazing amount of satisfaction at watching my team members grow and develop in their roles.  I hope I’m remembered as a leader who challenged and reinforced people.
  • Coaching and mentoring:  In addition to my direct reports, I find myself able to coach and mentor many people on many different topics.  I get a buzz from seeing anyone improve their performance or attitude because of my coaching.  I don’t want to be known as the person who always tells stories about how I did things, but as a coach who truly connected with people and tailor my advice to their needs (hopefully adding value again).
  • My humor on the job:  I like to have fun at work.  I believe we spend too much time at work to not have fun.  I take my work seriously, but I don’t take myself seriously.  I hope that has resulted in a positive work environment for others.

Well, when I look at this list, I admit I’m certain I missed the mark on a few of these.  How would others see my legacy?  I’ll let you know when my retirement comes along.  The retirement celebrations I’ve attended recently talked about the legacy the retirees left.  I’ll let you know what folks say about me!

UPDATE: First Quarter, 2021

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I wrote this.  I decided to retire at the end of August, 2019 after more than 40 years at Chevron.  I was humbled to attend not one, but a handful of celebrations of my career.  Through numerous stories and testimonials, it appears I didn’t miss as many marks as I thought in 2018.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been really enjoying time with my family.  My family life is so full now, I often remark I don’t know how I found time to go into the office!

One thing I do know: no matter where you are in your career, I encourage you to ponder the legacy you want to leave.  How well are you doing on that?  Take the time to evaluate how you’re doing, and what you can to do improve your legacy.  Course corrections can and should be made at any time in order to stay the course!

My Personal Leadership Model

My Personal Leadership Model

A requirement in one of my MBA classes was to develop a personal leadership model.  This model had to be represented by a graphic, and supported with a research paper that explained the model.  I found this exercise to be quite enlightening and introspective.  I originally developed my leadership model in 2000.  I still use this model, after articulating it over 20 years ago. 

In 2017, I received a 360o feedback report.  As part of my reflection and development of an action plan to address the feedback, I went back and looked at the model as I articulated it.  I found (and the feedback validated this) that I had grown lax in consistently applying this model in my leadership roles (personal and work).

I’d like to share this model with you, and see what you think.  Do you have a personal leadership model you follow?  I’d be interested in your thoughts.  What follows below is the original research paper on my model, with a few tweaks and edits to bring it up to date.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this report is to outline a framework for leadership that I have adopted for use in leadership roles.  In this report, I will describe the foundation of this model (including the evidence supporting the model); identify the three most important skills required to effectively practice or implement this model; and explain the skill development plan I have for these skills.

My leader model is built on the concept of ABC Analysis, with a feedback loop to indicate continuous improvement.  ABC Analysis is a simple method used in behavioral psychology to systematically analyze the antecedents and consequences influencing a particular behavior.

ABC Analysis defines an antecedent as something that comes before a behavior that sets the stage for the behavior to occur.  Behavior is what people do.  Consequences are what happen to the performer as a result of the behavior.  (Daniels, 2000)

In my model, antecedents are what I must do to set the stage for exhibiting important leadership behaviors.  Behaviors are three sets of leadership skills I must effectively exhibit in order to lead.  Consequences are the outcomes from effectively applying my leadership model.

MY LEADERSHIP MODEL

ANTECEDENTS

The following are the three main antecedents in my model: 

  • Know Myself
  • Know Others, and
  • Know the Course.

Know Myself

To effectively lead, I must first know myself.  I need to spend time reflecting on what is truly important to me.  I should clearly articulate my values and goals as well as understand my strengths and weaknesses.  Clawson, Covey, and DePree are three men who substantiate this premise.

Clawson:  James Clawson would refer to the need to “Know Myself” as “Clarifying Your Center,” because he argues that our values, attitudes, beliefs, and expectations (VABEs) are crucial to our ability to lead.  Clawson believes a clear and focused center increases the likelihood that we’ll powerfully influence others.  He states, “When you are centered, you cannot be unsettled or dissuaded or knocked off balance by opposing forces, shifting currents of approval or disapproval, unstable foundations, or even censure by those you love.” (Clawson, 1999) 

Covey:  Stephen Covey advocates an inside-out approach to developing ourselves into what he calls “Principle-Centered Leaders.”  “Inside-out means to start first with self – to start with the most inside part of self – with your paradigms, your character, and your motives.  Inside-out is a continuing process of renewal, an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.”  (Covey, 1990)  This inside-out approach strengthens my knowledge of who I am as a person and leader.

DePree:  Max DePree (CEO, Herman Miller) describes a “concept of persons.”  This concept emphasizes that leaders must have humility.  He has taken the time to articulate his beliefs and value system.  For example, he states:

  1. First, as a Christian I believe each person is made in the image of God.  For those of us who have received the gift of leadership from the people we lead, this belief has enormous implications.
  2. Second, God has given people a great diversity of gifts.  Understanding the diversity of our gifts enables us to begin taking the crucial step of trusting each other.  The simple act of recognizing diversity in corporate life helps us to appreciate and connect the great variety of gifts that people bring to the corporation.
  3. Third, I believe that God, for reasons that we may not always understand, has provided us a population mix – a population mix for which leaders are held accountable. (DePree, 1989)

As a Christian leader, my model incorporates this belief that leadership is a privilege.  I am humbled at the tasks of a leader and desire to be the leader God wants me to be.

Know Others

As a leader, I should devote time and attention to understanding my superiors, peers, and subordinates.  If I know their interests, desires, values, and goals, I can determine what motivates them (a determination is vital in gaining their support and influencing their priorities).  If I’ve been effective at articulating my values and beliefs, my actions will reflect my sincerity.  Therefore, my attempts to gain support and influence others will be viewed in a positive vein and will not come across as a manipulation.  This approach is aligned with my personal values and beliefs.  I have experienced effectiveness in gaining the support of others once they understand my values and beliefs.  This approach is validated by John Maxwell and Max DePree.

Maxwell:  John Maxwell has defined influence as a key aspect of leadership.  How leaders wield their influence can attract or repel followers.  He advocates leading others by looking through their eyes.  This can only be done if the leader cares for the people they lead.  He refers to a study in the Wall Street Journal:  “Of the 16,000 executives studied, the 13 percent identified as ‘high achievers’ tended to care about people as well as profits.  Average achievers concentrated on production, while low achievers were preoccupied with their own security.  High achievers viewed subordinates optimistically, while low achievers showed a basic distrust of subordinates’ abilities.  High achievers sought advice from their subordinates; low achievers didn’t.  High achievers were listeners; moderate achievers listened only to superiors; low achievers avoided communication and relied on policy manuals.”  (Maxwell, 1993)

I choose to use my influence as a leader to tap into the goals of the people I have the privilege of leading and tend to model the behaviors exhibited by high achievers in this study.

DePree:  DePree believes that leadership is effective only after the leader has developed the trust of the followers.  To gain this trust, the leader must know what the follower expects from a job and from their leader, as well as understanding what drives the follower.  At the heart of this approach to gaining trust is respect for the individual.  “Respect demands that we first recognize each other’s gifts and strengths and interests; then we must integrate them into the work of the organization.  Only then can we reach our common and individual potentials.  To take people seriously requires us to listen seriously.”   (DePree, 1997)

Know the Course

One of my key roles as steward is to develop a vision for my group.  A leader should always start with the desired result before pinpointing the behaviors necessary to achieve the vision.  To develop a course (vision), a leader should understand the business environment, the leadership direction, and the group’s mission.

Maxwell refers to vision as the indispensable quality of leadership:  “My observation over the last twenty years has been that all effective leaders have a vision of what they must accomplish.  That vision becomes the energy behind every effort and the force that pushes through all the problems.  With vision the leader is on a mission and a contagious spirit is felt among the crowd until others begin to rise alongside the leader.”  (Maxwell, 1993)

BEHAVIORS

To implement my model, the following three skills are the most important for the leader to possess and exhibit:

  • The ability to develop and clearly communicate a vision that will engage the passion of the members of the organization.  This takes great communication skills, along with relationship skills (in order to fully understand the needs of the members of the organization).  I refer to this as “Casting the Vision.”
  • The ability to clearly set out the performance expectations of everyone in the organization.  I refer to this as “Painting the Frame.”
  • The ability to select appropriate measures, provide timely feedback on performance, and celebrate success along the way.  I refer to this as “Coaching the Game.”

Casting the Vision

Once the vision is developed, the leader must cast the vision.  A leader has the ability to cast this vision in such a way that catches the passion of the people in the organization.  For example, Disneyland management created a vision for the park that fulfilled promise.  This vision was articulated in a simple way: “No chipped paint; all horses jump.”  This slogan means that the park should always be well maintained, and all riders should experience the same joy and excitement.  This vision is cast to the organization during training.  The vision engages Disneyland employees to be dedicated to a high level of customer satisfaction.  (Taylor, 1992)

Painting the Frame

The leader has the responsibility to define performance requirements for each individual to empower the employee within a certain framework.  The leader is the one who ensures that all employees fulfill their job requirements.  Both Aubrey Daniels and Stephen Covey support this premise.

Daniels:  Aubrey Daniels refers to this process as “pinpointing.”  “Sustaining results requires precise management.  Managers and employees need to know precisely which outcomes are required and precisely what the acceptable behaviors are that produce them.  The procedure for specifying results and behaviors is pinpointing.  Pinpointing means being specific about a result you want and then being very specific about the behaviors you require to achieve that result.”  (Daniels, 2000) Pinpointing both results and behaviors is necessary to effectively measure progress, and sets the stage for providing clear feedback (“Coaching the Game”).

Covey:  Covey refers to this as the process of setting performance agreements.  A performance agreement is “a clear, mutual understanding and commitment regarding expectations surrounding roles and goals.”  According to Covey, to effectively empower followers, leaders must:

  1. Specify desired results
  2. Set some guidelines
  3. Identify available resources
  4. Define accountability
  5. Determine the consequences (Covey, 1990)

Leaders can use these five steps to effectively paint the frame for the organization.

Coaching the Game

Once the leader casts the vision, the groundwork is laid for success.  The leader should build on this foundation by monitoring progress, providing feedback, and celebrating success and failure.  I refer to this skill set as “Coaching the Game.”  This skill set is based on an analogy of an athletic coach during a game.  The coach acts in a way consistent with beliefs and values (“Know Myself”), knows the players’ abilities and wants them to be successful (“Know Others”), and knows what’s required (“Know the Course,” “Casting the Vision,” and “Painting the Frame”).  Once the game begins, the coach knows the score, provides feedback for improvement, and celebrates success.

Monitoring Progress:  This should be done using a balance of process and results measures.  The balance is necessary to maintain focus on the vision, while ensuring the morality of the means.  Monitoring progress will provide for the momentum the organization needs to succeed.  DePree defines momentum as “the feeling among a group of people that their lives and work are intertwined and moving toward a recognizable and legitimate goal.” (DePree, 1989)

Providing Feedback:  To assist in the growth and development of employees, the leader must provide honest feedback on performance.  This feedback is necessary for the employee to adjust behavior and performance.  If the leader is leading from a foundation of integrity, the employee will know that the leader knows them, wants them to succeed, and knows the feedback will help the employee be successful.  This feedback can and should include both positive and negative feedback.  The negative feedback should be delivered in such a way that encourages the employee to make the necessary changes.  Positive feedback should be shared generously and deliberately. 

The definition of feedback that I use is “information about performance that allows an individual to adjust and improve his or her performance.”  For learning to occur, specific information about how an individual’s behavior affects the environment must be gathered and presented in a constructive manner.  (Daniels, 2000)

Celebrating Success AND Failure:  As the group meets milestones, it’s necessary that the group celebrate success.  Celebrating success strengthens the reinforcement around proper behaviors and aids in motivating the group to achieve even more.  (Daniels, 2000)

I think it’s also necessary to celebrate failure as well.  I believe that learning from mistakes is a powerful technique.  By performing an explicit “learning look-back,” the leader allows a sense of closure around the mistake or failure.  This behavior also sends a strong signal to the group that failure is necessary in achieving high performance.

CONSEQUENCES

The consequences of implementing this leadership model include:

  • Financial Success (both Organizational and Personal)
  • Individual Growth and Development of Group Members
  • Personal Growth and Development

Financial Success

The financial success attained by the Herman Miller furniture company is a clear example of the financial success that can come from adopting a leadership model similar to mine.  A $100 investment in Herman Miller stock in 1975 grew in value to $4,854.60 in 1986, which is at a compounded annual rate of growth of 41 percent!  (DePree, 1993)  Other companies that have used a model similar to mine include Eastman Chemical Company, Allied Systems, 3M Dental, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, BP Amoco, Delta Faucet, and Preston Trucking Company.  (Daniels, 2000)

As a leader, my personal salary is tied to the success of my team.  As I effectively apply this leadership model, my team will attain financial success.  I have applied this model in teams at Chevron and have achieved financial success.  For example, by applying this model to a team charged with evaluating demurrage (a charge for detaining a ship) claims, the team collected a record amount of demurrage owed by others to Chevron, and was able to successfully reduce the amount of demurrage paid by Chevron.

Individual Growth and Development

If I successfully utilize this model, other people will grow and develop their strengths and talents.  As Covey states, “Enlightened leaders and business managers throughout the world have used this simple principle in one way or another for many years.  They know that when people are meaningfully involved, they willingly commit the best that is in them.  Moreover, when people identify their personal goals with the goals of an organization, they release an enormous amount of energy, creativity, and loyalty.”  (Covey, 1990)

The best testimony of individual growth is the success others have achieved while under my leadership.  For example, in my last team, three people all received promotions within one year.  One received two promotions in under two years.  Two of them now have the same salary grade as me, which happened because these three people flourished.  They were willing to devote significant energy to the success of the team.

Personal Growth and Development

For my team’s performance to continually improve, I must also continually improve.  John Maxwell states that “Leaders face the danger of contentment with the status quo.  After all, if a leader already possesses influence and has achieved a level of respect, why should he keep growing?  The answer is simple:

  • Your growth determines who you are.
  • Who you are determines who you attract.
  • Who you attract determines the success of your organization.

If you want to grow your organization, you have to remain teachable.”

FEEDBACK

Underlying my model is a feedback loop that is built on trust.  The environment in which modern business operates is one of constant change.  As a leader, I must be comfortable with the uncertainty and ambiguity of today’s business environment.  I also need to be more confident of confusion’s role in a self-organizing world (Wheatley, 1994).  Feedback is one way to stay in tune with the confusion and to adapt my leadership style to achieve success.

In the last two years, I’ve been faced with a team that hasn’t responded well to the style of leadership that was so successful with my previous team.  I’ve had to adjust my leadership style to take into account the needs of the current team.  As I’ve adjusted, I’ve seen improvement.  The team is starting to respond to my leadership and is achieving success.  In the process, I’ve grown as well.

ACTION PLAN FOR DEVELOPING MY SKILL LEVEL

I know from past feedback sessions where my strengths lie.  I am a good communicator who can provide timely and useful feedback.  I know the skills I need to develop.  I will share this paper with my supervisor and a few key peers (in order to heighten my accountability for this action plan). The four steps to my action plan are:

  1. Develop relationships with key people
  2. Develop a vision communication plan
  3. Develop the ability to clearly articulate performance expectations, and
  4. Develop the ability to provide timely feedback on performance.

Develop Relationships with Key People (Ties to “Know Others” in My Model)

I recognize that I haven’t tapped into the diverse gifts and talents of my subordinates, as evidenced by the way my current team has responded to my leadership style (referred to in the Feedback section above).  Spending quality time with each of them will help me get to know them better.  I should devote a minimum of 30 minutes per week getting to know one member better, and track this on a personal behavior checklist (something I’ve been maintaining for three years).

Develop a Vision Communication Plan (Ties to “Casting the Vision)

I know that I need to further develop my ability to cast a vision to my group.  I have a vision in mind, but have not clearly articulated it to my team.  I commit to documenting the vision by May 15, 2000.  I will then use my monthly team meetings to discuss this vision with my team.

Develop Ability to Clearly Articulate Performance Expectations (Ties to “Painting the Frame”)

I commit to documenting a performance agreement with each of my direct reports as part of the annual Performance Management Process (PMP).  I plan on documenting each of these by May 15, 2000.

Develop Ability to Provide Timely Feedback on Performance (Ties to “Coaching the Game”)

I have a tendency to avoid conflict.  I should articulate the beliefs and assumptions I have for each of my direct reports.  My subordinates should see through my behavior that I truly believe in each of them, and am committed to their individual success.  Once I’ve built this foundation of trust with each of them, I’ll be able to effectively deal with performance issues.  I will devote one hour per week to developing this ability.

CONCLUSION

I have greatly enjoyed this assignment.  Spending the time to “clarify my center” has been extremely valuable to me.  I can’t wait to start applying what I’ve learned through this part of my leadership journey.  I have already started applying what I’ve learned, and am enjoying the success.  I shared my leadership model with two peers and two subordinates.  So far, it’s been well received.  In one case, it caused a rich discussion of the subordinate’s performance.  I’m already seeing an improvement in this person’s performance as a result.  Thank you for this assignment – it’s the best and most applicable one I’ve had so far in the EMBA program!
BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Clawson, James G. (1999).  Level Three Leadership, Prentice-Hall, Inc.
  2. Covey, Stephen R. (1990).  Principle-Centered Leadership, Simon and Schuster.
  3. Daniels, Aubrey C. (2000).  Bringing Out the Best in People:  How to Apply the Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement, McGraw-Hill, Inc.
  4. DePree, Max (1989).  Leadership is an Art, Dell Publishing.
  5. DePree, Max (1997).  Leading Without Power.  Jossey-Bass.
  6. Maxwell, John C. (1993).  Developing the Leader Within You, Thomas Nelson, Inc.
  7. Maxwell, John C. (1998).  The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Thomas Nelson, Inc.
  8. Maxwell, John C. (1999).  The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Thomas Nelson, Inc.
  9. Taylor, Larry (1992).  Be an Orange:  Win Big in the ‘90’s by Avoiding an Apple to Apple Comparison, Larry Taylor (self published).
  10. Wheatley, Margaret (1994).  Leadership and The New Science, Berrett-Koehler.  

Why Start a Blog

This is my first attempt at writing a blog post.  When I’ve mentioned starting a blog to folks, their initial reaction is usually – why?  I hope to answer that question with this post.

I was prompted to do this by my mentor, Eric Walden.  You may ask why a 62-year-old person would have a mentor.  I was part of a reverse mentoring project at Chevron, where I used to work.  I’d been employed by Chevron for over 37 years when I signed up for the project.  The intention of the project was to help leaders maintain relevancy and adapt their leadership style to newer generations.  Eric helped me to embrace social media and to understand how I can lead younger people – especially millennials.  I thank Eric for working with me, and for encouraging me to take this action!

I have had an internal desire to write for some time now.  It started in earnest in 2010, when I became a Founding Member of the John Maxwell Team.  Dr. John C. Maxwell is one of my favorite authors.  His books on leadership and personal development have helped me tremendously in my life and career.   The John Maxwell Team (JMT) is an organization of people who have been certified to coach, teach, and speak on John’s leadership and personal growth philosophy.

At my JMT certification, I felt the tug to write.  As is typical with many New Year’s resolutions, I was deliberate in keeping a journal for a couple of weeks and then stopped.  A year or two later, my younger daughter and I attended a one-day teaching by John Maxwell and a few others.  The event was titled “A Day About Books,” and was designed to encourage and inspire people to write.  Again, I was inspired for a short time.  Starting a blog is my attempt to commit to writing as a routine in my life.

I would also like to capture my thoughts and observations from a career of looking at life through a lens of leadership.  I find it fascinating to read about historical leaders, as well as discussing and applying lessons from contemporary leaders.  Life, both past and present, is indeed a target-rich environment for leadership lessons!

I’d also like to memorialize my thoughts for others.  I’ve had a wonderful time mentoring and being mentored by so many phenomenal people.  I’d like to continue this after my career at Chevron.  I’m hoping that this blog is a step in the right direction.

I am taking a leap of faith in starting this blog.  Where will I go from here?  I am not quite sure yet, but I know that putting this out in the public space will heighten accountability for me.  I am committing to write and post on a routine basis – at least monthly.  Simply by committing this, I’m opening myself up to the power of public accountability.  Additionally, I hope to develop my thoughts into a book on my leadership journey, as well as develop my business as a JMT Coach outside of Chevron.

I hope you enjoy this post.  Please share your comments, thoughts, and suggestions to me.  I enjoy feedback of all types!