As a leader, I have always intuitively understood that it’s not my job to make people comfortable. And I don’t like being entirely comfortable myself, because that means I’m not moving forward.
Several years ago at a gathering of the International Mass Retailers Association, I met Don Soderquist, who was at that time vice chairman at Wal-Mart. My take-away from his presentation was this: “You have to separate those responsible for today from those responsible for tomorrow.” A light went off in my head as I realized the implications for WD-40. The company had gotten where it was with a team of people responsible for today. The company had done the same thing for more than 40 years–and its culture, management style, and leadership were deeply embedded in maintaining the status quo. If we wanted to develop a culture that could take us into tomorrow, we’d have to expand our tolerance for risk, devote more energy to learning, and actively court change.
How’s your tolerance for risk, your energy for learning, and your dedication to courting change? It seems to me 2013 may become the year organizations finally pay attention to improving their business culture. I’ve spoken with more seniors leaders over the past few months about fostering a healthy culture than in the last five years combined. Here’s to moving forward, together.
You can learn more about Garry from his terrific website, The Learning Moment (and its accompanying Facebook Page), in “A World of Magnificent Maniacs: Learning at WD-40,” an article we wrote together for a primer on culture a decade ago, and in a Forbes piece from 2011 about his leadership lessons.
[Image: CC image by Harvey K, buds coming]