With the stunning primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to Tea Party candidate David Brat the latest buzz on “beltway blindness” and how Cantor and the press didn’t see it coming got me thinking. This “blindness” can happen to anyone in any career/industry.
All good leaders need to break that bubble. Sure, the higher you go up in the food chain in your work life you can easily lose touch. That is why it is so important to have a solid culture and mantra to believe in. It’s the glue to your foundation and the pin to pop any bubble that may form.
This is how Alan Mulally of Ford was able to turn the once beleaguered company around. The reality of Ford’s situation was ugly. Mulally popped the bubble and addressed the problems head on with a set of standards he implemented and made mandatory. From the mechanics all the way to the C-suite- “Opening the Highways to All Mankind” has been their beckon of light. Mulally created the “One Ford Culture” based on this mantra. By staying the course with these values and codes of conduct, the family of workers at Ford can stay tuned in with their customers- why? Because its part of their mantra. Boots on the ground and personally accountability are a winning combination.
Good leaders like Mulally get out of their offices, they meet with their employees and they energize the company through their passion. Being approachable is the key to a manager’s success. You lead by example. How can you lead if you are in a bubble surrounding yourself with yes men?
I am sure everyone has worked for a boss who can not connect with their employees. They have their team of people and an air of arrogance suffocates the workplace. That arrogance is key ingredient in this bubble and disconnect. An open door policy creates a more inviting, encouraging environment.
Giving back is another great way to deter the creation of such blind spots. All good leaders remember where they came from, they give back. I am too a big believer in paying forward. I think it completes the circle of leadership. Here is a life lesson and a mantra from two of my leaders I focus on in Opportunity Knocking:
Harold Hamm, Continental Resources and America’s Richest Oil Man with a High School Education:
You have to base your life around principles: fairness,
integrity, charity, honesty, caring for others, etc. If
you deviate from these, you are just fooling yourself
and setting yourself up for a big fall. I try to practice
humility on a daily basis and employ all of the
principles I have learned.
David Rubenstein, The Carlyle Group:
Work hard; keep your ego in check; give back; and try to make
the world a better place than you found it.
Remember, success is a wonderful thing, just don’t put blinders on or you will be smacked with failure right in the face.
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