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Leading with Music presents: Weather Report

One of the most influential fusion groups came from a series of engagements through the late ’60s and early 70’s that we have talked about before.  From Art Blakey’s incubator, through Miles Davis’ quintet and finally putting it together in the seminal Bitches Brew in 1971 the founders of this group had played off and on together. Now after completing that album, they wanted to continue to hone their sound, and they Valued the differences they all brought to the new world of Fusion Jazz.  Individually they were all great, but together, they would eventually produce one of the finest albums of the late ’70s.

After leaving Miles’ band, the first few Weather Report albums were still highly “freedom” oriented, and while very challenging to play, it was also challenging to listen to and these first few albums are still mostly only known to aficionados.  With this third album in 1974, he started to get back to rhythms that were “regular” and “funky”, borrowing from what was happening in Soul music at the time, and I, at least, find this much easier to digest, as did most critics and record buyers.

Leadership is a lot like Jazz I think – what is said is often not nearly as important as what leaders do.  Your team is looking more at how your Values are demonstrated – is it aligned with what you are saying. “Authenticity” is something that can often be faked for a bit, but eventually followers and leaders will start to understand what is really Valued by both, and engagement follows. Remember that the number one determinant of retention is the relationship with leadership – both directions. Values – what are they, what do you do to discover and align them… and what type of Weather Report will that produce in your team?

The Value to engage

The Value to engage

As the New Year is now entering the end of the 1st Quarter, the pace of work is picking up – both as the crisis appears to be receding, but also a normal part of each year.  Budget’s being finalized, and most of the year-end Performance Reviews completed, businesses and leaders are now making decisions on where to focus.  What projects need to be accelerated, those that may need to be slowed, and staffing that needs to shift.  Simultaneously, employees are engaged in the same decisions – is this really the place for them now… or?  And key to both is … Values. 

management Values

management Values

I guess I actually DO have a nickel for every time I stood up in front of a new team, as the “New Guy” and said, “Hi, I am Mark House, and here is what I am about.”  Actually compounded over the years, it’s what allows me the freedom to do this crazy new career, helping others have THEIR speech ready for that opportunity when it comes.  And I actually stole most of mine from other great leaders along the way, who I suspect stole theirs from others.  Because managing with Values actually works… because people can normally tell what your Values are (or aren’t)… before you can.

Are partners Valuable?

Are partners Valuable?

There is a point in every career where it is clear that alone, not only can the work not be accomplished, it will not be nearly as Valuable and rewarding.  For me, it was always that way.  In High School Debate I had a partner.  My first job at Texas Instruments was shared with a partner who handled “business” software while I handled the technical programs.  The remainder of my time there and well into IBM, I shared offices and roles with peers, some easier than others.  Not everyone makes that shift, and there are many singular leaders who give the impression that it is all about “them”, and occasionally their Values of “the cult of personality” can survive and persist… but at what cost? 

The no wonder Values..

The no wonder Values..

Like most weeks, Friday’s wonder post is the easiest to figure out with both what I am going to say, and the musician that embodies that quality for the band.  It is a rare treat that the story also aligns with the song title.  And if you read these enough, you might guess the player I focus on the most is the Bass player – and this week you would be right.  But I am already ahead of myself – one of my Values that is less helpful is being “Restless” – racing ahead and never being happy with where I am.  It is what made me a great Youth worker at church, and an even better recruiter… 

The Value of execution

The Value of execution

For as long as I can remember, I have been working – and not in a negative way.  I love doing things, solving problems, creating things, particularly when they are complicated.  As an executive I had to realize that making things EASY was actually WAY more important… and also, WAY more difficult.  The way I would explain this to you in-person would be to draw a Venn diagram – which most of you won’t even remember from Geometry or Algebra.  The idea is you have a circle, I have a circle.  Where they overlap, we share… objectives, deliverables, targets, mission, etc.  Easy with 2… but when organizations are large, the execution overlap becomes smaller and smaller… sometimes the Null Set… 

renewing your Values

renewing your Values

Of all of the Values that most teams and leaders list, renewal is rarely on the list.  Particularly the leaders who really “care” and talk about “servant leadership” and are those people you want to follow. They find it very hard to carve out time for the most important resource – themselves.  As I start working with leaders, I realize that most of my real value is forcing them to spend an hour or so on… themselves.  Sure I can bring some Value with my clever questions, listening, some observations, even some much-requested “advice”… but realistically… just getting them to focus on themselves is what I am paid to do now…