The same thing holds with my experiences in the nonprofit world. I often get to a point of frustration where I just say, “Screw it. The governance is so broken that I’m not going to bat my head against the wall any more.” What this means is that I can be extremely effective in the right environment but no longer have any interest in putting on a good face in a lousy environment. I’d rather walk away from it and plant myself somewhere else.
12. What leadership qualities do you most admire in effective leaders that you have known? Which of these qualities do you believe best describe your leadership?
Thinking back on 35 years in the Bell System I had 25 bosses, of whom six were really good. With them there was always a pattern: they were knowledgeable and excellent communicators. They were also engaging and supportive of good people, and they always focused on what we had to accomplish. And they were patient with their people and their organization; they didn’t try to jam things left or right, they were just nurturing. The guy who nominated me for two of my positions is turning 97 next month, and his mind is as sharp as ever. This guy was just off the charts, unbelievable, as a leader.
I think I have most of the same qualities, except for patience. But I can have patience under the right circumstances. For example, I headed an important committee at Lake Wildwood this past year. I worked with two extraordinary people, and the three of us were like-minded so we accomplished a lot. We engaged almost 100 other people through focus groups and affinity groups. That was a really fun learning experience for me, and it brought out all of my talents. Where it got frustrating was in trying to get the Wildwood Board to understand and act on what we found and recommended. All we had worked for pretty much ended there, at this last step. So once again the fun left when governance failed to deliver. Maddening. Just maddening.
13. What, if any, spiritual traditions or practices do you most draw upon in exercising leadership?
None that I know of. I never thought of my leadership in that way. I can’t think of anything spiritual that guided me during my career, except respect for other human beings. While I grew-up a Christian, I really became spiritual only in the last five years. I was always kind of on the fringes but never really engaged. Now I am engaged and am internalizing what is going on spiritually. I like it. It gives me peace. I ask myself, “Are my thoughts pure, are my words thoughtful, and did I do the right thing?” This is my little triangle test that guides me today. I wish I had thought this way early in my career, so I could have applied the same test then. Maybe I actually did these things fairly well, because I advanced quite high in AT&T. But I didn’t have a whole lot of structure. I just worked my way through this maze for 35 years and it somehow worked. Had I been brought up differently, maybe I would have codified these things much earlier.Download Article 1K Club