Whose “truth” are you after?

Continuing my Q&A with Gary Cohen, author of JUST ASK LEADERSHIP: Why Great Managers Always Ask the Right Questions

  • Crossderry: Coming from the other direction, how can senior leadership make it safe to ask and answer questions openly and honestly? Put another way, what distinguishes an organization that cultivates “approval-seeking” from an organization that rewards “truth-seeking”?
  • Gary Cohen: While leaders should seek to cultivate a “truth-seeking” culture over one that’s “approval-seeking,” they must be mindful of whose truth they’re after. Too often leaders express disapproval when their coworkers don’t arrive at the answers they hoped to get. This disapproval prompts coworkers to fish for the truth/answer their leaders prefer. In this way, “truth-seeking” becomes “approval-seeking” in disguise. Continue reading

PM Quote of the Day — Shaquille O’Neal

Me shooting 40% at the foul line is just God’s way to say nobody’s perfect.

PM Quote of the Day — Chinese Fortune Cookie

Remind yourself that ‘the lion when hunting doesn’t roar’.

PM Quote of the Day — Charles de Gaulle

The graveyards are full of indispensable men

PM Quote of the Day — Anonymous

[T]he principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility.

Yup, I did it... amazing huh?  I dont understand it and dont call me if it breaks... but I did it.

Yup, I did it... amazing huh? Sure I don't understand it, but never mind that. Oh, and call my team if something breaks...

Many misunderstand the main purposes of anonymity in 12-step programs — it isn’t just about protecting a member’s reputation.  While medical treatment of alcoholism and addiction is much more accepted than when AA started in 1935, it still carries a stigma in some circles.

As a practical matter, anonymity also protects the 12-step program itself.  It has become a PR cliche to have a failing celeb hit the rehab circuit — there’s even a Celebrity Rehab series — which is great for making people aware such programs exist.  However, such publicity isn’t exactly great evidence for the effectiveness of the 12-steps.

The deeper purpose of anonymity is seen when we look at the quote: the “principle of anonymity” is something of “spiritual significance.”  12-step programs are quite explicit that the reprieve they offer is contingent on the maintenance of one’s spiritual condition… and self-seeking is hardly a marker of good spiritual condition.

Consciously and notoriously breaking anonymity elevates the member over the fellowship or the program.  It is just like a manager claiming credit for something he/she wasn’t truly responsible for.  Also, ego elevation isn’t exactly what most alcoholics or addicts need.  Ultimately, anonymity protects the alcoholic or addict from the “tyranny of self.”

What is toughness in a leader?

I like John Baldoni’s distinction between exterior and interior toughness (post here) as outlined below:

I am not referring to what’s on the outside (gruff and ready), but rather what is inside the individual (character and resilience). 

The post has a good set of comments as well, so it’s worth reading all the way down.

Finally, IMHO, humility is important because it acknowledges the obvious.  When I don’t recognize and admit mistakes — mistakes that everyone affected see for themselves — I essentially am showing my stakeholders that I’m disconnected from reality. 

It is rare that we’re really fooling anyone about the consequences of our bad or mistaken acts.  Admitting error and making amends ASAP is only common sense.

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