Turbo Leadership Systems

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Janyary 15, 2008 Issue 155 To our clients and friends
You Go First

At the close of the second day of the Leadership Team Advance for the twelve senior managers of a paper mill which employs 335 people in northern Ontario, Canada, Perry, the somewhat reserved engineering manager, said in a rather energetic way, "I feel more motivated!"

It's often difficult to capture in words the feelings we experience, yet it is from these feelings, these emotions that we emote. It is from our feelings that we move. All motion comes from emotions. Our feelings drive our interaction with others and ultimately determine the nature of our relationships. These feelings that emote us determine our level of performance, our productivity, engagement, and finally the contribution we make to the success of the enterprise.

What had happened that led Perry to this spontaneous pronouncement? Was there one specific moment in the 30 days of preparation leading up to the two-day offsite meeting, or during those two days that flipped his motivation switch? Perry's pronouncement is consistent with the kind of responses we have heard over the 22 years we have been privileged to conduct this senior management team alignment effort. Our first LTA, where we developed the original outline, was with senior managers at Fred Meyer, a firm with just over 20,000 employees. Earlier this year, we conducted the LTA for everyone on the staff (8 people) of the Oregon Software Association.

The way I've come to characterize this energetic engagement that Perry expressed when he said, "I feel more motivated!" is that everyone in most organizations know before Turbo shows up that something needs to change. I've yet to observe an organization that doesn't feel some things around here need to change. The problem—Everyone wants change as long as someone else is changing.

If everybody wants change, if everyone is looking for change, what's keeping change from happening? This is the way I picture it; everyone is lined up along this current situation line looking out toward the unknown possibility and then back at the known, which includes some of the things that need to change. Looking out toward an ideal which would be much better . . . . our vision . . . than the current state, back at the current state and waiting. As the managers stand on the starting line, they look to their left, they look to the right, and say, "You go first." So, unless they all see we are taking this first step together in unison, in sync, nobody will take a step.

This is what rallying the team is all about. This is your job as a leader, a change agent. Build the trust of the team to the point that there is no fear of being out on the limb all by myself. Build their trust to the point that they say, "I'll go first."

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