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Courage to manage

by | Dec 7, 2021 | Courage, Journey, manage

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The Bermuda Triangle of my corporate experiences are: Pain, Change, and Courage. You might wonder why I chose Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin as the soundtrack of this post, and to be very clear, unlike others managers in the corporate world, those were never done by me 😉 But leveraging the principles of understanding what people really need and want from their workplace helped me manage and navigate between all of these elements. So what best practices have I experienced?

First, there is a one-to-one correlation between the first 2. Without Pain, there is rarely Change. Only leading thinkers and firms have the presence to Continuously reinvent themselves as we found last week. That leaves market condition changes and external events to force Pain. And left with that reality, eventually, someone has to have the Courage to actually step up and act – do SOMETHING differently. And from that first step, if managed well, results will slowly start to adapt, and the Pain subsides…

One of Journey’s biggest hits started as an homage to Sam Cooke. If you recall, Steve Perry went into singing in the first place because of Sam’s song Cupid. Now that he had a great band behind him, he wanted to write a ballad that would rival what he loved about Sam. And… that band was full of power – rocking guitars, huge drums, keys to add dramatic harmonies, and of course the bass strung like a 5 string to hold it all together. This was their first Top 40 hit, and would lead to a total of 19 to follow, 6 in the top 10, and 2 Number 1’s. While in a major key, and with a generally upbeat tempo, it is actually a true song of tragic loss.

Steve witnessed his girlfriend at the time getting out of another guy’s Corvette and giving him a big, long kiss goodbye. “You make me weep, I wanna die”… and all of the Na, Na’s at the end, which was supposed to be “..there are no words to convey the pain”. We of course hear them differently, as the person singing is wagging their finger as the ultimate send-off – yes that finger 😉 Here Steve’s Courage in sharing his Pain managed to be Journey’s first hit, and the beginning of a new format that Journey mastered – the Power Ballad. Of all the hair bands of the ‘80s that tried it, none were as successful with this format as Journey.

… in our case, the “Pain” was that the General Ledger (GL) was not easy to make changes to. Now you might think that is a good thing (and you would be correct) but that caused someone to have the Courage to develop a wonderful tool – an excel spreadsheet that took the “wrong” entries out of the GL, modified them to be “correct”, and then re-inserted them. That “painful” GL was now fixed, and everything went back to “normal”. Until Enron blew up, and we shared their Auditor (Arthur Anderson) related to which, our Board then decided it would be a good time to look elsewhere for accounting “advice”… Right after firing the CEO, COO, and CFO…

… which is why I was sitting with my 4th team in less than 9 months, all of us suffering the “pain” of working 150 hours a week. And it was up to me AGAIN to figure out how to manage and motivate this group of people to take action to make the changes we had to make to start moving towards some way of making this stop. What I realized was that no one knew how to do any of this, and most had reacted to the situation with the “Freeze” that is typical in corporate settings. Rather than take a risk, particularly a risk where they might be wrong, they would retreat to the sidelines…

… and Courage is best managed by inverting what others are doing. First: Lovin’ – which means getting to really know the team, and being there with them. Not retreating and being afraid – having Courage to really engage and listen to what THEY want from this experience together. Second: Touchin’ – not THAT kind – but being there with them often. Daily or even more frequent meetings, providing some guidance, status, feedback on a consistent basis. Even if you don’t know something, say that. Finally – Squeezin’ – getting the best ideas by encouraging them that their answer is right here with THIS group – not others, certainly not more senior people – but this team right here. The combination of these stances – first met with disbelief – “… is he actually asking us what WE think should be done??” – turned into a best practice – and later became my brand. Courage begets courage. This team – and every team I managed like this – stepped up

… which is where Courage again steps into management. It is knowing that you can empower others because you have Confidence that you have done this before, and if not, you can, in fact, sort it out with their help. And those team members will help “sell” your approach to others, which is how I became known as a ‘turn around’ guy – something that has some other “pains”. But for today, think about your own approach to Courage, and what would help you manage to develop more of it. I suspect it is around you and involves a bit of Lovin, Touchin, and Squeezin

You make me weep and want to die
Just when you said we’d try
Lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’ each other
When I’m alone all by myself
You’re out with someone else
Lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’ each other
You’re tearin’ me apart
Every day, every day
You’re tearin’ me apart
Oh what can I say?
You’re tearin’ me apart
It won’t be long, yes, till you’re alone
When your lover, oh, he hasn’t come home
‘Cause he’s lovin’ who he’s touchin’, he’s squeezin’ another
He’s tearin’ you apart
Ooh, every day, every day
He’s tearin’ you apart
Oh girl what can you say?
‘Cause he’s lovin’, touchin’ another

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