Don’t look at us, at the leadership at the top. We are the wrong mirror. Of course, we are committed to be the best possible role model for the organization. It is our duty and privilege. But we may get it wrong from time to time. Our potential bad example, I very much hope that transitory, should make you aim at excellence even harder.
The real leaders in the organization are people like you, managing groups, divisions or teams. Leadership is completely distributed amongst us, all over the place – actually we are rich on it. Sitting in different layers of management in the organization, how you do things, how you move forward, is what matters. You are the real day to day role model. Other colleagues will look at you first, before even thinking of looking up to the leadership team. Leadership modelling is mostly about you, and between you. This is where you have to look at every day. It is your own environment that will serve as a mirror first. Look sideways, not up. Shape the environment around you. You have the power that I don’t have.
Don’t get me wrong. We all, at the leadership team at the top of the organization, are committed to our values, to constantly shaping a culture based upon them. If any of us don’t live by those values, if we create barriers instead of breaking them down, we will have a big problem. I promise you that we will get better and better. Not there yet. But small, or not small, failure or disappointment in us at the top leadership should not be an excuse for anybody to relax the values, to steer the organization in the wrong direction.
If you see any of us at the leadership team, including myself, deviating from the right course, tell us. I know, it’s not easy. Most people won’t be comfortable with that. And that include the messengers and the receivers. We all are human, and sometimes don’t like to be told that something we are doing is not right, particularly if we are in a top position in the hierarchy. But this is the deal. I promise you that I, personally, as CEO, will always welcome any comment, any input or piece of feedback. I promise you that I will hear it clearly. I can’t promise that I will always be able to react immediately, but I can assure you, your effort won’t be wasted.
Let me repeat. Don’t waste your energies analysing what happens at the top of the organization. Shape the culture according to our values, with your own teams, and, above all teaming up, joining forces with your own peers. You don’t need permission tom do this. Other managers and leaders like you, have similar issues and challenges. Some will be better than others at finding solutions: people issues, organizational issue, barriers, resources, any challenge. Your peers, not the top leadership team, will be more able to help. This is your first port to collectively move forward. You and your peers have more power than you think to shape things around, certainly, more than us at the leadership team.
I, with the top leadership with me, am moving forward with all my capacity, to make this company the best there is. This is my personal invitation. Come with me, with us. Bumpy journey or not, it is worth every second. Promise.
Look ahead, look sideways, don’t look back, don’t look up too much, always look down to your people with generosity, trust and a sense of possibilities.
(modified from an old post in 2016, with very very little change…)