Shared Leadership; Lessons learned from our forefathers
There is no guarantee for Success, but if you stay as close as possible to the EARLY lessons of our forefathers, do what they did, share their common motive; well then there is a greater chance you will be successful.
I’ve proven this over and over in the workplace and have since published a book and written a seminar on the subject of shared leadership.
C.A.R.E. is the acronym for courage to take action relevant to everyone. This is a
shared leadership model and YES building a better workplace starts with you.
This model is based on the behavior of Sam Adams, Paul Revere, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and of course George Washington. These guys are my mentors, my virtual mentors on shared leadership.
Applying this model to our day to day behavior in the workplace is what I believe is the difference between a toxic work environment and cost efficient project delivery.
First things first; the only thing that matters at work is delivering results, with a sense of urgency and NOT at the expense of others. For my above mentors their results were to benefit the common good of our country. Of course in the workplace the results we all strive to achieve are for the common good of our company; simple.
In order to successfully achieve (anything) there must be a motive. Not one based on personal agenda but a common motive, one shared by others. My virtual mentors shared a common motive; care (or C.A.R.E. as in the above acronym). They all cared for the country that didn’t exist at the time but a new nation they were actually fighting to raise.
I’m not trying to raise a new nation; I’m proud of the one we have. But I wouldn’t mind raising a new workplace. One where our objective is to let our company know NOT how good we are but how we can consistently be trusted as a teammate to deliver results for the common good of this company AND not at the expense of others. Let them know we’re in it for the long haul and when the going gets tough, we’ll stay and fight.
In order to achieve anything there must be a motive. I’ve seen from my virtual mentors that when care (or C.A.R.E.) is the motive then nations can be raised. Imagine what we could accomplish in the workplace with this motive?
So what are some of these shared leadership lessons learned in the context of the C.A.R.E. model from these virtual mentors?
1. We need to recruit the right team. Careful about this because teambuilding has become common knowledge and sometimes at risk because we take this task too lightly and for granted. Yes, recruiting the right team is a must, however not a team of rivals like we may have read about in the history books, don’t recruit a team of rivals because often times you’ll be recruiting a team of conflict. You need to recruit a team of teammates. A team of diverse skills, sharing the same common motive, one that can be trusted to deliver and one that will not deliver at the expense of others. This is difficult, extremely difficult which is why recruiting is usually taken too lightly. Recruiting the right team is difficult but not impossible. George Washington recruited Thomas Paine to ride alongside him to help motivate the troops. He didn’t select a drill sergeant or some elite battle ready soldier, he selected Thomas Paine; an anonymous pamphlet writer? But someone who shared the same motive as he did. Thomas Paine believed (we) Americans had greatness within ourselves, in all of us, every American and NOT just descendants of the royal namesake. He saw America as a great nation and did whatever he could to help it become a real nation.
The lesson; a team all sharing the same motive is far more valuable than a team of specialists or rivals.
Want proof? The Hessians were specialists at winning wars. They were hired by the British to help defeat the Continental army. George took them out in one day, one Christmas morning! The Hessians may have been good at what they did but they had no motive. This was not their country, they were just fighters who really didn’t care who won as long as they got paid. Just like some of our teammates and/or contractors in the workplace today.
2. Don’t waste too much time planning. Honestly, a plan or a strategy is a nice to have but NOT a requirement to get started. When my five virtual mentors were building our nation, there were no templates, centers of excellence or best practices to follow. They worked from a blank page. They couldn’t sit around and beat to death a plan. They needed to immediately deliver results JUST to live another day.
The lesson: Any strategy is a good strategy and sometimes you do whatever you can to inch forward while or until a strategy develops.
Want proof? George Washington escaped from NYC with his entire army just to fight another day. No plan, just survive until a plan develops. How grateful are we the GW took that approach? This is the ultimate lesson of losing the battle but winning the war. Think about what GW did that night on the fly with lives and the future of our nation at stake next time you’re confronted with a decision in the workplace. He could’ve fought to the death (like Custer) or surrendered but his motive carried him to at least get to the next day. This is another lesson; the motive comes before your ego.
3. Learn to play the hand you’re dealt. Who were the minutemen? Who were the militia? I could see corporate today saying what the hell can these guys do? Let’s get rid of them and hire the right people.
The lesson: Recruit the right team YES, but FIRST take a long look at the existing team because chances are they can deliver provided they share the same common motive, they can produce provided they care (or C.A.R.E.). Don’t go out and blindly recruit the Hessians just because you have the funding or because you think they’re the best team money can buy. If you need to recruit, then recruit but only after leaving no stone unturned looking at the hand you’ve been dealt. Then if you must recruit be brave and recruit based on the motive. This is why GW recruited Thomas Paine, he shared the same motive and motive has more weight (than skill) in the success equation.
4. Establish likeability. Likeability is the most underrated attribute. Likeability is not a requirement but certainly a nice to have. Think Paul Revere; not the smartest but the most likeable. Therefore most aware since he was so socially connected and up to date. Paul Revere was the best source of information and played an important role in the raising of this nation by using everything in his power to deliver results. His most efficient attribute was his likeability.
The Lesson: He used likeability to become the “glue” that held together the plans and actions the early minutemen. In today’s world, I doubt any young technologist (or seasoned tough guy for that matter) would spend any time with an old dinosaur like Sam Adams. However these two were great collaborators.
5. Be committed. This one’s easy; In 1775 Patrick Henry said “give me liberty or give me death”. Today in 2013 when we hear that phrase we immediately know who said it. Think ahead 238 years from now; do you think there will be a phrase that will be associated with something you said in your lifetime? Mr. Henry had the commitment to put his life on the line. He shared the same common motive as my other virtual mentors which fueled his commitment.
OK so what about the cost to deliver even when following this model? Well, there will always be a price; someone will always be against you. I’m sure the militia rejected Thomas Paine when he was first selected to ride alongside GW. The soldiers must’ve wondered how the hell is this guy going to keep them from freezing to death. In today’s workplace I could see people thinking likeability as a skill brings no technical value to the table, even though it’s often the difference between delivery and failure. My virtual mentors taught me how to measure the price against what’s at stake. They also showed me there will always be a price, results are never free. However in today’s workplace; leading with the right motive, leading with C.A.R.E., having the courage to take action relevant to others will provide you with the best strategy needed for success; a shared leadership model.