Opinions

Leading from the Front

28 March
Leading from the front

I have four boys between the ages of five and ten years old that are full of energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. A simple family trip to the grocery store can turn into a complex activity of herding them through the various aisles and ultimately to the cashier.

On a recent shopping trip I discovered that they responded different ways to me leading them from behind versus the front. As long as I stayed amongst them, I spend my energy on communicating boundaries, disciplining violations, and responding to every request for chocolate (a family favorite). As I moved out in front and “pulled” them along, they put their focus on me and keeping up with the list of things we needed to accomplish. The boundaries and distractions no longer held any power as their focus was on the goal of keeping up with daddy.

This simple analogy describes my own frustration with our current political leaders. Too often they are stuck leading from behind and are scared to challenge us to a higher calling. As a community, we need a big goal, something to keep us optimistic, energetic, and focused. When we think of the great leaders of history like US President John F. Kennedy, they did exactly this. Kennedy’s great call to the US was to be the first nation to the moon. At the time he made this challenge, there was no way to get to the moon…it was unthinkable. The unthinkable became impossible and then inevitable as society focused on a goal that was so far ahead that no singular person, community, or company could have achieved on its own. China has done the same with milestones like the Olympics in Beijing and the World Expo in Shanghai and experienced enormous leaps in the development of society. Yet today the two biggest economies in the world largely lack a focus and I can’t point to any singular purpose or goal that unites them in their future.

Here’s a call out to Barack Obama and Xi Jingping to step out, think big, and lead from the front!

Opinions

The Three Cs of Relationships

25 March
3csmall

I was spending time with a friend who practices law last week. He is one of the best lawyers we have worked with and I hear the same from friends and business associates. I asked why he hadn’t approached one of his best friends who runs one of China’s most successful companies for work. I was surprised when he replied the difference between a mediocre and great client relationship is all about chemistry. He’s worried that the chemistry with this friend and his organization wouldn’t be good and would put his friendship at risk.

As I reflected on my own experience with clients, it made a lot of sense. Oftentimes the difference between mediocre and great work has nothing to do with the work but with the fit and strength of the relationship. Oftentimes, the clients don’t start out that way. There is an initial fit or connection of values that forms the foundation for good work but then the great work emerges as a bi-product of competency and chemistry.

This analogy of the client-service provider relationship extends more broadly to any relationship where work needs to get done. First, we do our best work with those that we connect to and yet compliment us in terms of values, experience, and skills. Once we have this foundation, then it is important to build a relationship that has a high level of trust on both the functional competency we’re meant to deliver and the emotional chemistry to share opinions and ideas freely. These three Cs of connection, competency, and chemistry are a recipe for a high performing relationship in work or life!