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How do you Engage to Leave?

by | Mar 11, 2019 | engage

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I was going to take the week off from writing (again) when of course a great song comes on.  One thing I love these days is how much time I have in the car – seriously.  I love driving and I made it a gift to not “work” in the normal sense while I drive. I could listen to Books on Tape, I “should” listen to PodCasts to “enrich” my knowledge.  Nope.  I use that time to recharge me… it is a gift that keeps on giving.  When I have had a long drive with REALLY loud music, I am better – well I think so, and really that is all that matters. I was driving over for a very difficult meeting between a supervisor and direct report – both C level officers of a big company – who were having “issues” with communications.  In fact, although we had scheduled the meeting a few weeks ago, they had a big issue just Friday which put it into a specific focus…. which I didn’t know walking into the meeting…. 

… it had to do with Respect, which is another series I need to write on – what is it, what does it mean to you, and how do you handle it when it is violated.  As I watched these 2 leaders go after it (both women by the way… adding that complexity of “nice” style) this kept coming up, and as Inigo Montoya would say, “You keep using that word. I do not think you know what it means.”  As the 3rd wheel, I could literally see them miss each other – in fact – both were irritated by the same thing, which eventually came out.  Neither wanted to hear it but they were being triggered by mostly communication/style differences that were getting in the way of their conversations. It was a mostly good conversation, and they continued without me for another hour which mostly helped and went better… and I am cautiously optimistic… but I wonder how many bad conversations add to the backlog of other bad conversations to the point that Leaving is the only outcome.

MoTown owned Soul music in the 60’s and literally built a bench of talent that was nearly impenetrable.  Hit after hit, often the same song done by multiple groups until one of them got it to be a hit, it was a juggernaut in business.  And – Berry Gordy made the decision to leave Detroit to head to the land of music – LA.  Slowly their artists either made the move or not, but an important element was their backing band, The Snake Pit.  Growing up mostly in the Jazz scene of the 60’s, these players moved into Soul and Funk with the ease that jazz improvisation allowed.  As the move west became real, many of them stayed, and the MoTown sound slowly drifted away… which made room for a new sound – literally a song about this – The Sound of Philadelphia.  Started by Thomas Bell, the amazing dance groves of The O’Jays, The Spinners, MFSB, etc blossomed in that market vacuum of the early 70’s – and boy am I glad they did.  The tight strings and driving beat are some of my favorites, and hopefully yours as well.  Today’s group had the audacity to name itself after a whole City – and I am not aware of other hits by them, but this one was huge to me. 

I have had the honor of helping leaders make the difficult decision to leave, and a few times helping those who were shown the door that they didn’t see coming.  In both cases, it is a process that I have eventually developed a flow for… The Last 90 Days… a bookend to the First 90 Days.  Some day I may write that book but this week I am going to focus on Leaving.  I have covered some of what causes it (Feedback, Transparency) but this will be more on the actual process and emotions of the work of moving on.  And yes there are MANY songs about breaking up 😉 but I am going to try and choose ones that I believe really do have a business/leadership aspect. 

Leaving starts with that small voice in your head that things are not working.  Often that voice is a saboteur – actually things are going great but your own frame of reference is things can’t be that great… I am a problem solver and I need to find a problem to solve.  Or stylistic challenges that can be corrected with attention. But sometimes, it is in fact real and changes are coming.  In that case, visualizing where you want to be, and what that looks like helps the dream start to take shape… and also is when I try to help people ground that into what it would REALLY be like through interviewing.  But the good news, in many many cases, including my own, the dream turns out to be even better than originally thought as the fog of the current world fades into the rear view mirror.  It goes out to all of you who actually made the leap, took the plunge, and left…. and now… Are Doing Fine Now… Without you Baby 😉 

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