Nineteen

Every aspiring leader should work for really good and really bad ones on the way up. I got a good one straight off the bat as a fresh graduate. His fondest management dictum: “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.”

He also gave me the best introduction to the shop floor that went something like: “Every single person here tries to keep their family happy, deals with stressful situations, buys complex financial products; they run the scout group, squash ladders, school parent boards, and the local historical society; they build scale steam engines, champion local nature reserves, and there’s nothing one of them doesn’t know about Chaucer.”

His message – they all have something they can bring the firm. “And yet,” he added, “firms like ours often ask them to leave their brains at the door when they clock in, only to collect them again as they clock out.”

I recall his continued dissatisfaction with every effort we made to tap everyone’s potential. He took the shortfall personally.

Another of his sayings sticks with me: “Everyone’s in X”, where X could be HR, customer service, product development, etc. as suited the occasion.

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