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partners Together

by | Dec 15, 2021 | partner, Ray Charles, Together

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🖋 “What is your intention?” It is such an obvious question once asked, but not one I considered often. In my previous role, our leader’s “intention” to get us a partner Executive Coach to hone our leadership skills was met with shock and disbelief. Really – now? When we can’t find time to go to the bathroom? My wife was observing the stress changing even with what detergent she had to use to get my clothes clean. Now – when we were not sure this business would even survive?

Yes – now, and probably if not now, it would have never happened. I would have continued to empower other “partners” with their intentions – rather than digging deep into what it was I actually wanted. And that deeper work of not ‘externalizing control’ is my most current intention. Helping others – as my coach did – to connect the dots that show, like it or not, that you are responsible for what is happening to you. Said clearer, how you are reacting to what is around you is under your control.

🎵 Ray’s intention to move into Country would have ended as an idea – had it not been for great partners. First and foremost was Sid Feller, his assigned A&R (Artist and Repertoire) man, and also his conductor. And while he may not have believed or agreed with Ray’s first inclination, by now he had caught the vision. Ray asked him to really research the top C&W hits for the last few years, and select songs that not only were hits, but would be something that Ray could stylize his way, and make them his own. It took Sid about 6 months of preparation but soon he had a list of candidate songs… 250 of them, most of them unknown to Ray.

He also had a fabulous band of partners that he wanted to feature with lush arrangements. And – we often forget – Ray is BLIND… just a reminder that regardless of his intention, he had to do ALL of this with only his hands, ears, … and partners. That Genius phrase that we throw around was on display constantly. On one track, he was so frustrated with the arrangement that he dictated the parts himself – all 18 instruments – all the bars and measures to his partner. He had it so clearly in his head that he could recite each part slowly enough for others to draft them for the musicians to recreate his intention.

🖋 My coach was a great partner, and clarified my intentions for this new role in a book that he gave me. And if you have worked with me, and didn’t get a copy, ask for a refund 😉 It was THAT important to me changing what my intention was. The First 90 Days highlights that new leaders are at their strongest from a vision perspective when they first step into a role… and also at the biggest risk of making fatal moves to “prove their worth”. Michael Watkins Harvard Business Review-based research documented this… to say nothing of the chapters in my career to date where my coach helped point out the clear connection – not so subtly. The key is to LISTEN mostly, and do VERY LITTLE – neither were core competencies – yet…

… and the book provides a clear prescription to keep even the most recalcitrant on the path to success… and if it worked for me, it will most certainly work for you. It forces you to leverage the outside perspective that is so helpful to any business by asking 6 to 8 questions – of EVERYONE. Your Boss, your peers, your Direct Reports, even customers if you can. And just getting those interviews scheduled helps you not say “yes” to other meetings that are likely to derail you when you first arrive (more on this later…)

To that end, my new admin connected 30 days BEFORE my first day – a real gift – and one that I encourage leaders to do if they can. Yes, it can be complex (witness having 2 jobs), but getting a head start on the Org Chart, the structure of the group, current challenges, anything you can get, helps. empoweringLEADERS, in fact, put this into a document for organizations that were having great difficulty onboarding new leaders. We leveraged best practices from corporate, academic, and government into some clear intentions for those first few months.

As I stepped into the role fully, my days were filled up with “listening meetings”, and I was slowly building my own observations and ideas on “what I should do” – even asking that question of everyone. And, the steps in the book kept me from talking, and forced me to say “Thank you so much for your time, and I will be back with the overall results in 30-60 days”… stating my clear intention to partner with them and the WHOLE organization. And, that roadmap is one that I hope to have conveyed to many leaders over these last 15 years, now mirroring my own coach. If you are in a season of change, I would love to help you, but it will probably never match what he did for me. Not Half as Much

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