The Coach's Corner

Archive for May, 2016

Love? Are You Kidding Me?

May 30th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Is there a place for love in the workplace? Some people would answer with a resounding “yes.”

During the last decade of my first career, I spent a lot of time on airplanes. Because I lived in Detroit, Delta was the most convenient and sensible airline to fly, but I have to say I was intrigued by how many times highly respected business consultants speaking about great companies would use Southwest Airlines as an example. They would raved about their experience with Southwest (in a good way).

So, I decided to read Lead with Luv: A Different Way to Create Real Success, by Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett. Wow, what a story. First of all, Southwest leads the airline industry in all important metrics, and they have been profitable every year since their founding in 1971. I realize you probably already know this, but most, if not all, major airlines went bankrupt during that same period — some more than once.

Of all the things that could be discussed when it comes to a successful company like Southwest Airlines, what did former Southwest President Colleen Barrett select to talk about in her book? Love.

Instead of me reciting from her book, I would invite you to watch this 14-minute video that tells it all: Southwest Airlines’ Culture

A short time after I had finished reading Lead with Luv, I was at the gym and a friend who knows I read a lot said, “Hey, I read a book you would like. It’s called Love Works, by Joel Manby.” There it was again: love. What my friend didn’t know is that I knew Joel back when he was the Saab North American CEO. Needless to say, based on the title and the author, I read the book.

Joel Manby is now CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE). I wasn’t familiar with the company, but according to his comments, it’s a very successful Disney park-type business. Just like Colleen Barrett, Manby credits HFE’s founders, Jack and Peter Herschend, with creating a very special culture focused on a love of the park guests and their love of the HFE team members. Manby concludes that as a result of that philosophy, the HFE venture has been a huge success, and he offers many specific examples of making difficult business decisions that involved balancing “profits” and “love.” (My mentor, Frank Moran, was fond of using the tightrope as a metaphor for making decisions.)

I would strongly suggest that you read both books. For some of you, it will be very encouraging; for others, it may cause some discomfort — but that’s OK.

If I were to anonymously interview some of your team members about “love” at your company, what would they tell me?

Consider the Facts, but Don’t Forget to Listen

May 16th, 2016 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Over the past several years, I have advised several clients who have found themselves working with challenging boards of directors. In each case, the CEO was very competent and successful, but struggled with certain board members who had contrarian points of view.

As I reflected on their situations and attempted my best to offer advice, I was reminded of books about two great leaders. The first is Tough Choices, written by Carly Fiorina about her time as CEO of HP; the second is Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football, written by John U. Bacon. (I’m not crazy; I know those subjects sound like they’re worlds apart!)

Let me try and connect the dots. In both books, commissioned and endorsed by Fiorina and Rodriguez, I made the following observation (and I repeat that all I know is what was in “their” books): Obviously, facts are important — but often, there’s more to consider. In my opinion, both Fiorina and Rodriguez were out of touch or acted as if they “didn’t care” what key stakeholders thought. I’m not recommending being political. What I am recommending is using your common sense and listening — actively listening, asking clarifying questions, and attempting to understand other points of view, especially those of your board members.

In both situations, I’m sure there were other factors involved. But as I advise executives, especially those leaning toward “right is right” attitudes, I encourage them to leave their ego at the door and work hard to understand from where the board member is coming. The individual may actually have a good point, but perhaps they’re doing a poor job of expressing it. To summarily dismiss the board member’s point of view is suicide.

Ask Carly Fiorina and Rich Rodriguez.

Fascinating Mentoring by a Dad

May 2nd, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Somehow I missed Steve Wozniak’s book iWoz when it was published in 2006, five years before Walter Isaacson’s now-famous book, Steve Jobs. My regular readers know I have written several times about Steve Jobs, but I knew very little about his Apple co-founder, Wozniak. At the end of the book, Wozniak states that he wrote the book for two reasons. The first was to set the record straight. The second — and I quote — was “To give advice to kids who are like I was. … Kids who feel they’re outside the norm … who feel it in themselves to design things, invent things, engineer things.”

My biggest takeaway from iWoz was Wozniak’s description of how his dad mentored/fathered him. His father, a Lockheed engineer, was the perfect person for this young, gifted inventor. In his own words, “My dad guided me, but I did the work. And my dad, to his credit, never tried to teach me formulas about gravitational power and electric power between protons, or stuff like what the force is between protons and electrons. That would have been way beyond what I could understand at that point. He never tried to force me to try and jump ahead because I wouldn’t have learned it.” Wow. I’m sure you can imagine how easy it would have been for his dad to push him, like some other famous fathers.

Mr. Wozniak’s perfect mentoring contributed to one of the greatest technological discoveries of all time. Wow!

Question: Would your team say this about you?

p.s. When Steve Wozniak was a child, he says his goal was to build something that would end up allowing him to do something really good for people. I would suggest he accomplished his goal and then some.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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