The Contribution Great Managers Make

This is a presentation that is based on The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers: A Manager’s Calling.
An excerpt from my speech follows below.

Closing Keynote Session:

From the conference recap of the 2012 Annual Conference of the Association of Legal Administrators:

Continuing with the Hawaiian spirit, Thursday’s David W. Brezina Memorial Closing Session featured workplace culture coach Rosa Say who presented Managing with Aloha.

The Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators sponsored the session in honor of David W. Brezina, who served as ALA President from 1996 to 1997 and was involved in a tragic bicycling accident resulting in paralysis and quadriplegia. Even as he fought this disability, he served his term as President, and at the time of his death in 1999, he was serving as a Trustee of the Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators.

In her session, Say helped attendees understand how to empower employees and infuse office culture with creative energy. “Great managers enable and empower staff,” she told the audience. “Great managers are stewards of working culture. They coach and mentor people as their best contribution to their workplaces and love doing so. Not like – love. Great managers believe that the people they manage are more than capable of creating a better future and they will when given that chance. Great managers believe in the power of positive affirmative thinking and have a low tolerance for negativity. They are ambassadors of hope.”

After 3 ½ days of education, resources and networking, attendees left with an ignited future and renewed spirit.

Transcript Excerpt:

There were basically two things I came to understand about the health of workplace culture:

When you manage other people, you have to accept personal responsibility for cause and effect triggered in the workplace. There’s a domino effect, and those effects will travel a great distance out of our workplace walls.

If I am your boss, and you have a miserable day at work under my charge, this is what can happen:
You can go home grumpy and dissatisfied with your lot in life. You’ll be short with that cashier at the grocery store when you pick up something for dinner, and then you’ll tail someone else in your barely suppressed road rage all the way home. You’ll sit down at your dinner table, and take everything out on the people you love most— your family. Your kids will sit there and cringe, and you know what they’ll think?

“Is this what’s in store for me? Is this why I’m supposed to grow up, get a job, and be an adult? Is this what working for the rest of my life is going to do to me too? Why bother?”

And you know what? Me, as your manager, as the steward of your workplace culture and your day, I’ve got to know that sorry state of affairs around your dinner table and in your life is my fault. Your broken spirit is my fault.

That is what “accepting personal responsibility for being a manager” really means.

The second thing I came to understand about the health of workplace culture, was about how values drive our behavior, and how values are woven into our beliefs, our convictions, and at times, our desperation. We are our values.

But we can also choose them; we can choose who we will be. What I saw, what I experienced time after time in their cause and effect, was that the managers I most admired — the Great Ones — all had the same m.o.: They adopted good values and they operated within those values. They never strayed from them. They were professionals precisely because they allowed their values to be very, very personal.

To them,  integrity and ethics were quite simple:
—INTEGRITY is telling your personal truth.
—ETHICS are about demonstrating that truth.

The Great Manager, the great person, manages their own behavior by tapping into their values as their source of human energy. It’s the way they “lead by example” conducting themselves with ALOHA distinction.

Great managers know that CULTURE IS simply a group of people who share common values, and operate within those values.

Now this dinner table scenario can go like this:
If I am your boss, and you have a fantastic, and immensely rewarding day at work, you go home feeling the world is your oyster. You pay it forward, and wave someone into the parking space you actually reached first. When you say “thank you” and grab whatever you bought for dinner and helped bag, the cashier at the grocery store smiles back at you, and thinks to herself, “That was nice! If only all my customers were like that.”  You sit down at the dinner table, and you don’t have to mention work at all, but your family gets the good and happy you, they get the you who is fulfilled and ready to be someone great for them. They get the person they want to love. Your kids will relax as they sit there and enjoy their meal and their family, and they’ll think to themselves,

“Wow, if this is what working means, I can’t wait: I can’t wait to finish school, and actually do the work I was born to do, making something great, and earning my keep. When I grow up, I want to be just like my dad (or just like my mom.) I want to feel what they feel.”

Believe me — believe them — they’re wading through their own problems at school every day. They need you to demonstrate your values so they can come home and recharge with them, and get the clarity they need to hold close when you aren’t around.

And you know what? Me, as your manager, as the steward of your workplace culture and your day, and your success? I can sleep better at night. I can say that belief your child has, that hope, and that positive expectancy, is because of me too. I was the manager who supported you, so you could deliver on your promise to be a good human being.

I also know, that with this good foundation in place, our team, you and I, we can move on: We can challenge ourselves beyond the basics, and do that exciting work that is cooler, sexier, and more innovative. We can be spectacular in the way we serve the world, and we can have a blast doing so.

The other manager, the irresponsible breaker of human spirit, will never know that joy.