Posts Tagged ‘belief’

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

A famous statement from the Spider Man films, and one that I think sums up a lot of the human potential/performance situations we see in work.

Many of us have acquired experience, which when matched with developed skill and application of those abilities in delivering great outcomes gives us power. Situational, hierarchical or social power.

It is with that in mind that I think about the use of power. How do we yield our “power-base”? Especially in a profession all about the people and the good things we need people to do in pursuit of organisational or business goals to make successful enterprises and the thus make the “world go ’round”.

Power can be corrupting. Alpha Male syndrome can be protective and destructive yet power can be brilliant. It can push us to achieve what we didn’t even know we could achieve.

Power in this instance is the power of someone with something to offer, sharing that with someone who needs that something, in order to help them build their power-base. Increase their effectiveness. Confidence boosted. Options created. Energy generated.

So that’s why I’ve decided to give what I have to the CIPD’s “Steps Ahead Mentoring” programme.  I am matched and waiting for my collaborator to come back to me and arrange our first chat.

Young people. That group of people who happen to be born before a lot of us and who are now venturing from being educated and prepared to being productive and purposeful about their work. Work being the key society enabler in civilisation, economic prosperity and personal satisfaction.

It’s easy to think “someone else will be better at this than me” or “where will I find the time to help someone younger?” Yet here’s an example that happened to me which made a huge difference in my life and work-related success.

Rewind to 2000. I had just been successful in securing one of the biggest jobs in my entire career. Part of a huge IT-based programme of business improvement and change. I was more excited than you can imagine.

Yet tinged with excitement came huge self-doubt. I was suddenly thrust into a situation with revered academics. Big-hitting business leaders. Experts. Established society leaders and people with brains bigger than planets.

Luckily I had a wise boss. Someone I knew a little before I joined and we set about looking at what value I could add to his work; our work; the work.

He was, and I bet still is, someone who’s intellect could captivate any meeting/presentation and who’s gentle and calm delivery would have people leaning in and tuned in.

I was NONE of those in my mind. Energetic, informed and passionate was – to  me – nowhere near what was required to hold court on the controversial, far-reaching and much-needed topics we were there to deliver on.

And yet he saw something in me – potential perhaps – that he wanted to work with. He was clever enough not to clone me into him. He instead gave me measure, balance, calmness, insight, belief. Belief being the biggest one. He and I double headed presentations and speeches; workshops and meetings and generally became a double act. We complemented each other.

Gradually, as his workload changed and I was more confident, he stepped back. Sometimes he cancelled at late notice. I took it that he believed I could do it and so I got on with it. He then just handed the entire game over to me.

He believed in me. He helped me believe in myself. I felt enabled, empowered and enlightened.

So it’s this BELIEF that I am most looking forward to helping create in my mentee (duff word but has come to be the term we use).

Belief is a powerful thing. It’s the antidote to overconfidence which is where trouble begins. Belief is the key to outstanding human endeavours. It is the crucible factor in us stepping up where others have either messed up or exited swiftly.

Belief is where ideas are given life and drive. Belief is where we can be humble yet confident. Belief is where we go to when we have moments of doubt. Belief is our energy cell that props us up when the other chemicals like adrenalin and dopamine are spent.

Believe in a better future? Then build that with those who are going to live there when we’ve moved on. That’s “young people” by the way.

Cue George Benson/Whitney Houston “Greatest Love Of All”…well that’s got to be better than being a “Belieber” right?

*shudders*

This is as much of a tribute blog as I could construct.  It’s not sycophantic, it’s sincere.  It’s still #PunkHR though because it’s not how most people would pay homage to someone who’s looked out for them, looked after them, guided them and backed them to the hilt.  Even when things got complicated, tricky and difficult and it didn’t go to the agreed plan.

It started in 2009 with that incoming new boss feeling.  You know the one – that “ooh what are they going to be like?” and most importantly for me “will they get me?”  I both love and loathe in equal measure the parting of company with bosses and the establishment of a relationship with a new boss.  I’ve had some amazing ones in my time.  And like everyone, I’ve had some utter planks.

I don’t set out to be an awkward individual.  I’m responsive, adaptable and capable of changing most of the way I do things to suit another’s preferred style of leadership, management or supervision – whatever they deem appropriate.

Being a Punk though, after a while, if their style gets in the way, I rebel and I work around them.  If they are utterly underwhelming and uninspiring, I seek out and get that from elsewhere, from other people.  If they are utterly inept, then I’ll just cut them out completely and do whatever the heck I want to do the job I have been employed to do with the utmost creativity, energy and impact.

Now, when you get someone who is open, willing, able, who gets you, who loves what you do, who has the quiet word in the ear, who understands your motivations, who absolutely gets the best from you then that’s that rarity that is the inspirational boss.  Someone who I would – literally – take the bullet for.

I have now embarked on something new for my career proposition where I may never have another boss again.  No-one to be inspired by or dismayed by; and for that I am both sad and excited.

  • Sad because I’ve just left a boss who is the inspiration behind my words above.
  • Excited because the planks I’ve had are probably still living out their petty mediocrities somewhere else driving some poor so-and-so up the wall.

Let’s not dwell on the planks though.  They’re not what this is about however they DO make you appreciate the inspirers more.

Now the tribute – from the off, she was into everything I had already done and believed in it.  I felt valued already.  What was staggering was the immediate support and intervention provided when others didn’t get me and went on the attack.  She took some heat, and gave me advice and most of all was there in a non-judgemental and guiding manner.  This was SO important to me at a time when I was still finding my feet as a Head of function with a budget and key leadership role to fulfill.

She then backed everything I suggested and rarely even questioned why.  She admitted to being amazed by some of the suggestions; recognised so much of why things were being suggested and most of all TRUSTED me that things were the right things to do.

She stepped into the limelight when it was right to do so and she took the flak when she didn’t need to but did it anyway.  Unbelievably valued interventions – and JUST when it was right to do so.

As a boss, you like to know there’s transparent, honest dialogue – never any doubt.  Fantastic at discretion, immense in sharing, valuable in giving advice, open to receiving it and just open to new ideas at each and every turn.

Here’s a classic example of how fantastic she was.

A round the table discussion at a management meeting

The leader says in turn – “So Manager X, you do that plus this by then; And Manager Y you do this and that by then; and Perry, <pause and think> just keep doing what you do.”

No greater testimony ever existed to how much someone trusted, valued and believed in me.  I’ll never get that again. That’s partly why I don’t think I’ll ever have a boss again.  It’s inconceivable that I could find a repeat of what I have had for over 3 years.

I’ll now look after myself, my enterprise and work with clients.  I’ll put my heart and soul into whatever I do with them as I know no other way, but there will never be another boss to top the one I’ve just left.

There’s a lesson here I guess, love your rebels for their rebelliousness and you’ll get them to outperform time and again.  Even rebels need someone to look after them; believe in them and inspire them.

I have memories I will treasure for a long time I hope to renew our collaboration as a rebellious duo of HR Punk-consultants.