The Dispensable Leader (An Excerpt)

Recently, we reviewed a Blog by Pete Ashby, leadership author and Director of ASALeader.Com.  He discusses some issues that relate to Humility, Candor and treating people with respect.  Obviously we not only agree with him, but M302 believes that’s it’s even more important than we all realize.  Below is an excerpt.   

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“…As a leader, how do you want others to view you?

For so many, the sign of success has been that they should be viewed as indispensable.  What a gift: indispensability.

In the midst of the “cultural revolution” that we’re all experiencing on the back of the 2008 financial crash and now for us in Europe the slow motion crash of the euro, this is one of many things that are now changing.

We need our leaders to see themselves as dispensable.  And the more dispensable they see themselves as being, the easier it is to trust them.

This is quite a profound shift that’s taking place.  In a way that has taken many of us by surprise, there’s something more important than ever now about the moral standing of a leader…

Three challenges for you as a leader:

1.  Be more relaxed about treating yourself as dispensable

Today you can’t trade on the deference of the general public and the passivity of your shareholders in ways that you could have done five years ago.

The trust and respect of others is more precious and precarious than before because our trust in the leadership class has taken one hell of a battering.

This isn’t to suggest that we want you to over-do humility.  We all like to see our leaders “walking tall”.

But it would be nice if when we see you walking tall we also pick up some signals that you’re not taking for granted those who invested in your business and buy the goods and services that you’re offering in the market place.

2.  If you have bad news for us, or a really tricky dilemma that you can’t solve in one fell swoop, tell us – and GIVE IT TO US STRAIGHT

Don’t pretend you have an answer if you don’t.

It’s so much better that you should offer us an accessible definition of the core problem that you’re trying to solve.  We’ll respect you for that.

We’d much rather that you honestly own up to differences of opinion.

Whatever you do,  DON’T act as if you have achieved a consensus and then offer us a form of words that could only be agreed because they mean different things to different people.

3.  Remember that we live in a world of ever-greater transparency and that’s here to stay

Your behaviors and personal and professional standards will be more open to the public eye, and, frankly, if you’re still in the game of wanting to take ever increasing bonuses from your business and live the high life, don’t be surprised when others want to compare how you treat yourself with how you treat those who work for you.

Personally, I believe that there should be a pretty direct link between the percentage pay increase that a Chief Executive takes and the % increase that you award your own people.

If you expect your staff to limit themselves to a 1% increase or – as is increasingly the case – accept a pay freeze and therefore a real cut in their living standards, how could you even contemplate trying to justify a huge pay increase for yourself?

Increased humility and ambition

A central part of the challenge for all leaders is to engage more with your own people and make it that much easier for them to trust you when you say “we’re all in this together”.

Millions of workers are having to embrace their own dispensability and adjust to it as best they can.

So for leaders who seek genuine engagement and sharing of ambition, it’s not unreasonable to ask that you act in a way that embraces your own dispensability as well.

After all, as large number of your people tell themselves every day, embracing one’s dispensability means that we need to fight that much harder to hang on to all that we have wanted to take for granted.

Increased humility and increased ambition.  There’s a powerful combination if ever there was one…”


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M302 thanks Mr. Ashby for his insight, as it continues to solidify the M302 philosophy.  One that believes respect for all, regardless of their position creates a win-win, no matter the situation.  Even in defeat or bad times, candor and respect remains the best way treat and communicate to your subordinates.

We wish you Peace…

2012, Pete Ashby,

“It’s not personal, it’s only business.” (S-13)

Hello All:

Remember the saying “It’s not personal, it’s only business.”  M302 believes that statement to be BS…

It’s always personal to the person that is losing something.   For example, you can’t tell someone you are laying-off that it’s not personal, because if it affects their bank account and their family, it’s personal.

Moreover, from a business sense, if it affects their business profits; it’s personal.

You may get away with the statement, “it’s a business decision that had to be made,” but don’t insult anyone with the former, “…it’s not personal.”  Ask yourself this; how would you feel if the information was about you?

Business – Is Personal.  It always is, and it always feels that way. Maybe not to you at this moment, but in other another moments, it does.

Here is a ridiculous example:
***To Microsoft, maybe their software breaking down and the skilled prowess of customer support is business; but to you at home going through the frustration of being down and the hours it takes to fix it, is far from, “just business,” and it becomes completely personal.  It’s your computer, and your time, and your business, and your work or personal items lost.  How would you feel if customer support said, “we apologize for any inconvenience Sir, but your scenario falls under an acceptable business loss.  Our analysts tell us that 1% of our software will fail, and you are just part of the 1%.”  (lol)  It’s not what you want to hear.

You want to hear that they feel your pain, apologize for the inconvenience, and will help you figure out how to fix it quickly.  And when that is accomplished, guess what happens?  You feel better!

Here is a better example:
***During training sessions, we ask people to name their favorite companies to do business with, or cater to, and then ask why they like catering to those companies.  Ultimately, that answer always comes down to, “because they make me feel good.”  (The initial responses were similar to…because their products are good or that they do what they promise.  However, after all the initial responses are labeled, it comes down to how one “feels” when either dealing with the company, or using their products.

One more stupid example:
***Even after the frustrating receipt search as we come out of the wholesale store – which we hate tremendously because it makes us feel as if we stole something – we always go back to that wholesale store because we feel good about shopping there for a multitude of other reasons.  If the receipt check made us feel that bad, we would not return.  Positive feelings out-weight the negatives here.

Here is the point of all this.  (As in “Feelings,… Situation 12″)

Supervising, Managing, and even Leading people is about recognizing feelings.  By no means, does this mean that optimum performance should not be requested or even demanded.  In fact, it’s easier to request greater performance and accountability when there is mutual respect between supervisors and subordinates.  It’s how performance is requested and the response to the request that makes the difference between low and high performance and the process of maximizing efficiency.  It’s how people are treated in good and bad times that make the difference.

Respect, irrespective of position?

It’s a much more modern view of management which also includes the EQ of supervision.  We had to provide multiple examples to our students, because at first they were skeptical of the “Feelings” concept.  At first, some even thought it meant that considering people’s feelings may be a weakness, but after the discussion, and after examples, it became quite clear that it’s a strength.

M302 always tells the companies we work with that the mark of a truly great company is not that they don’t make internal mistakes, but how they go about recognizing what’s happening with their staff, and resolving those internal issues that arise, immediately when they arise.

We wish you Peace…