He impacted my life and leadership more than any other person. I can still remember the first day that I met him. He exuded confidence, and when our eyes locked I could see a twinkle in his eye. It was if he knew about a hidden gift, and was delighted with the thought of revealing it to those ready to receive it.
The person that I’m referring to is James L. (Jim) Lundy, Ph.D. Not only was he my coach and mentor for twenty-four years, he was also my friend until the day he died in 2014. When I look back, I now understand that the hidden gift was my potential, and thankfully, over the years he helped me unwrap it.
A Great Man
Since my father died when I was 20 years old, Jim was like a father to me. He would drop about anything to help me become a better leader and a better person.
I think I tried to implement just about everything he ever suggested, and his recommendations never failed me.
Jim helped me really understand the value of focusing on relationships, so it was my pleasure to invite him to lunch every month or two over his last several years.
He taught me so much. He demonstrated what a man of integrity looked like. He was passionate, and I mean passionate, about good customer service. Also, he taught me how to lead people, and how to manage the things of the business in a principled way for better results.
In his younger days, he became one of the executives at a small business called The Haloid Company during the years of its most rapid growth. Shortly after he joined Haloid, the name was changed to Xerox.
As a consultant, his client list was impressive and included giants such as IBM, 3M, General Mills, TRW, Hewlett-Packard, General Dynamics, and American Express. And then Bobby Albert!
An Excellent Mentor
When Jim and I first met that summer of 1989, he persistently kept after me to attend one of his long-running La Jolla, CA. three-day TRAC 5000 workshops.
Sure enough, I enrolled in the first TRAC 5000 workshop held in Wichita Falls, TX (where Jim chose to make his hometown). For me, the most revealing part of the workshop occurred on the first day when I read the results from my 360-degree leadership evaluation.
This type of evaluation is based on the anonymous feedback of family, friends, and co-workers. In this case, they had shared their honest thoughts about my leadership. And the main message that they sent was:
“Bobby, when you get an ‘idea’ for us to carry out, we really want to help you. BUT get us involved at the beginning of your decision-making process and before you make a decision about what to do and how to do it.”
This unexpected news was stunning. In fact, when I first heard the results, I was mad! It was not until the next morning that I began to cool down and process the findings in a rational way.
To be honest with you, the thoughts that went through my head when I first heard the results from our leadership team was that…
- They don’t understand me.
- They don’t understand I was doing them a favor.
- They are busy doing their everyday work, so I’m helping them by not interrupting them to ask their opinion.
My Old Leadership Style
For you see prior to that October 1989 when I got an idea for our business, I would come up with all of the questions to ask and do all the research to determine all the answers.
Then I would go to our leadership team to present my idea and explain how it would work. The team always accepted the ideas, but the ideas were always “Bobby’s ideas.”
For days, weeks and even months after I presented an idea, I found myself spending a lot of time and energy just persuading my team that it was a good idea.
And when it came time to implement a “Bobby idea”, the process was very slow, and it always took a lot of pushing and prodding to make it happen. It was draining and discouraging.
Observation: The more competent a manager/owner is in the technical aspect of his or her work, the stronger the tendency is for them to make decisions and set goals alone, and simply tell the employees what to do.
Better Decision Making
For you see, I was suffering from two common problems that limit the effectiveness of most leaders. I just didn’t know it!
I really did not seek, listen to, and learn from my people’s insights and advice.
For me, it took a shocking 360-degree evaluation to wake me up and reveal a better way to lead. But you don’t have to attend years of the “school of hard knocks”, like I did, to learn the better way to lead your organization.
I learned that there was a simple and an effective way to show your people that you deeply value them through Engage2LeadTM participative leadership. It was my company’s secret sauce.
A Participative Leadership Style
One of the most powerful changes that I made was how I made decisions that would broadly impact an area, department or the entire company.
I started to actively seek the opinion and input of others at the beginning of the decision-making process and before I made a decision.
The results were transformational. I made better decisions, and we created a TEAM that naturally felt a sense of ownership and responsibility for their contributions.
Do you want to hear more about Engage2Lead? Stay tuned for more blog posts to come.
Have you ever received honest (anonymous) feedback from your team? Do you make decisions and then tell your people what to do? Please leave your comments <here>, and please share this blog posts with a friend or co-worker.
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