Monday, November 17, 2008

The Spearman Leadership Manifesto

Before I go into this post let me start with a true story. I just got back from a frat brother’s house. He is a teacher at the computer center of a local elementary school. He told me a story that has application to what I see often in life. His classroom is closed right now. It is closed because not long ago a deer jumped through the double paned windows of his classroom (I will post a picture if and when he sends it). To escape all the deer had to do is leave the same way it came but instead it panicked and spewed blood everywhere. Finally animal control was called and the buck had to be put down. I hope I do not have to explain the moral of this true story.

I was asked by a friend and the upcoming chair of the board to document my thoughts on leadership. For years I spent a good portion of my intellect helping and serving other business owners and setting up a bar of which my successors will be mentored. 2009 will be my last year in office and am already grooming my successor, while there are two potential if either win the organization should be fine and able to rise to a new level.

Before I write about me on a professional level think it is important to put who I am in context on a personal level. I am a person who has been burned and lied to many times, who has some trust issues and as a result created systems to deal with them. I live by the school of thought trust but verify, I expect the worst of people because I have seen in personally and professionally – woman abuse, me used, children neglected and as a result when people actually do what they should and are decent I am pleasantly surprised. I do not operate as an optimist – to do so to me is to set yourself up for failure, I instead am a pessimist and a long term strategist. The people I trust and who I place faith in have shown me through their words and actions that they can be counted on, trusted and respected. Yes, I expect people to fail and let me down and plan accordingly, it is the exception that I believe people to be honest and genuine. Though I plan with others not living up to their potential or promises I hold myself to a different standard – a higher one

I believe:

  • I believe God speaks to us in the quiet times and when we least expect telling us through other people, songs, sings, and other things message often we do not want to hear yet need to and who always provides us with what we need so long as we have faith.
  • I believe that God’s personality to me is much like the characterization shown in the Almighty movie and sequel as portrayed by Morgan Freeman
  • I believe if you want someone to serve you must show them by example want it means to be a servant
  • I believe everyone has ethics except for some those revolve solely around the acquisition of money and perceived power because that is their true god
  • I believe that the only real way to acquire power, wealth, respect and loyalty as well as many other things in life is to give them away freely
  • I believe that your self image dictates what you will do and that regardless of what anyone says you will eventually reach equilibrium with your self esteem and its level will dictation whether that is in a positive or negative direction
  • I believe pride (lack of humility) is our greatest enemy
  • I believe money is a byproduct of service and that businesses exist not to make money but to service their clients
  • I believe words are cheap
  • I believe if you want someone to be honest you must in all things be above board because a lie is the most selfish thing you can do
  • I believe in surrounding myself with people who share my values and who challenge me to be more than I am even though we do not always agree we share similar values and goals of service
  • I believe greed is wrong, by its definition it means taking something that others own that you have not earned
  • I believe that to lead you must allow be willing to be vulnerable and to trust people and allow them and everything to fail (guiding people but allowing them to do for self) because they do not learn or grow when you fix problems before things blow up and they never get a change to realize their potential
  • I believe control is an illusion driven by an innate sense of insecurity
  • I believe it is the quality not quantity of friends that matter
  • I believe trust and respect are earned because of the consistency of your conduct , the integrity and predictability of your actions
  • I believe I was put on this earth to leave it better than I found it not to selfishly exploit it for my own personal gain
  • I believe it is not so much what you do that matter but why you do and that the ends in no way justify the means
  • I believe people trust you when they know you place their needs before your own
  • I believe respect is more important than friendship
  • I believe your time is the most important commodity you own so it should be used wisely as it can never be replace
  • I believe all relationships should be treated as investments and as most investments you nurture the ones that grow and discard the ones that decrease in value.
  • I believe liars are evil and selfish and that if someone lies for you they will lie to you and that a liar will also steal from you if and when it is expedient and serves their needs
  • I believe that I is not what people do when it is easy and convenient that tells us their true character or what they are about rather it is what they do when things are hard, inconvenient and difficult that tells us not only what they think about us but themselves also and it indicated if their priority is our collective well being or simply their own
  • I believe you should hold people accountable not to what you want of them but only to what they promise you
  • I believe people refuse to put things in writing only when they do not want to be held accountable
  • I believe loyalty is something people emulate and copy from watching your behavior by example
  • I believe if you want someone to work with you , you must create a vision that transcends your differences and is bigger than all involved
  • I believe if you are not honest with yourself you cannot be honest with anyone else
  • I believe if a person is unwilling to listen, learn, grow and change they are essentially dead and waiting for their body to catch up with their mind
  • I believe fear based decisions are often short term and self destructive
  • I believe when you fight against something or someone that thing or person has control over you because they define the rules and dictate your behavior
  • I believe all good leaders are first good servants
  • I believe that we all rise or fall together
  • I believe everything we do affects those we come in contact with and in turn those they come in contact with
  • I believe you should share and help people not because you believe yourself superior rather because if you are blessed to have more than you need and we are all God’s creation the least you can do is share
  • I believe people are often stupid because they seek out excitement, fun and stimulation – the people around when they had a good time who were often the same people responsible for their demise and totally missing or ignoring the people who carried them when they passed out, picked them up when they fell, or took a bullet to save their life – in part because they are so traumatized at the time they believe the single sets of footprints they see on the ground where their own not realizing another hoisted them upon their shoulder to carry them
  • I believe that when someone helps you – a mentor – who may have knowledge and experience I do not that I should listen and though I may not understand do everything to do what they ask in the manner they request it.
  • I believe negative behavior should not be rewarded and that positive peer pressure – praising examples of the behavior you want emulated is more constructive
  • I believe games and manipulation are tools of childish immature people and are best left in grade and high school where they belong and tat many adults function emotionally at the level of a 6 year old
  • I believe when you put other people down or speak negatively of them it speaks more about your personal shortcoming them theirs both personally and professionally

With all of that said I want to see people succeed, to live up their expectations, to do well. I am happy when I see others succeed and it gives me hope when they do regardless of whether I played an active, passive or not part at all in their success. I guess much of my thoughts can be summed up in Mathew 25 for those who read the Bible. I will not repost the scripture here but if you click on this link you want to read.

So now that I am in context personally, lets discuss leadership (especially in business and non profit volunteerism.) and to who I am professionally and how some perceive me. Yes, in some circle I am considered highly gifted, this is not an over inflated ego but a statement of fact as well as documented. That said my intellect does not mean I think in any way I am innately superior or entitled, I have seen and know people that lack my brains who have on a business level built far larger businesses and to be honest I am happy and proud of them all.

In my years in office on a local and national level working with and through others accomplished the following:

  • Created a national leadership orientation process that was inclusive of all of the constituent committees
  • Created policies and procedures to assure the consistent performance of the organization
  • Created and ethnically and sexually diverse leadership team
  • Silenced much of the animosity and turf wars that existed in the constituency groups
  • Created tools and processes which facilitated the saving and growth of many borderline businesses while allowing those established to grow
  • Created an objective awards process that recognized positive behavior
  • Never violated my personal morals or ethics and never betrayed a trust or a confidence
  • Developed the reputation of being the voice of insight and reason, the person people sought out when they wanted a straight solution oriented answer
  • Focused constituency on business development
  • Assisted in turning council from an organization that was on the verge of disaffiliation to being a national benchmark
  • Removed many of the games and politics from our culture
  • Worked to create opportunities for business owners to receive continuing education to equip them to build their business
  • Created an MBE Summit and got participation from globally recognized corporations and nationally respected legal professionals and business owners
  • Starting bringing Charleston back on line
  • Set path to bring Ashville and Wilmington back on line
  • Replaced underperforming leaders
  • Made Carolinas MBEIC and its processes the defacto benchmark nationally
  • Standardized the national election process and successfully passed to new chair
  • Created a peer mentor protégé program
  • Segmented council into industry groups
  • Establishing a fasttrac educational program for Carolinas business owners based on Tuck model slated to go online in North and South Carolina in 2009
  • My final legacy will be the PAC am setting up to advocate for business owners in the Carolinas and Nationally and setting up indices of measure because what you cannot and do not track you do not care about minor work to correct

The is more but it is my hope that in this document my thoughts, motivations and be inference my processes are defined such that anyone opting to follow in my footsteps and hopefully surpass me has enough information to do so and gains a clear understanding of my thought processes and motivations.

So what suggestions do I have to offer anyone wanting to assume a leadership position:

  • Use common sense – see things as they are not as you want them to be then take an honest assessment of the tools you have available
  • Set the standard of behavior – Do not tell people what you want them to do – so them by your example
  • Never lie – if people cannot count on your word they cannot count on you making you worthless
  • Share – you cannot control others – never try – you can only inspire them and only if they see what is in it for them
  • Commit – either your are all in or not – there is no half way – no playing at – there is only doing – trying will never work
  • Playing is for children so leave the games on the playground – the only way to not get burned in politics is to not play them, also emotional outbursts and utterances reduce you in ways you cannot imagine and show everyone you lack the ability to restrain and control yourself – so the question becomes if you cannot lead yourself why should anyone follow you?
  • Check your ego at the door – A true leader especially and elected one is about service not self, not you , not your business, you are their to serve the organization and your constituents – to lend you talents to the greater good
  • Have a vision – create a picture or a goal bigger then you of where you want to be and make sure it aligns with the goals of the organization
  • Be humble – you do not know everything surround yourself with good people
  • Be professional – make no excuses why you cannot do something and do not commit to anything you cannot do, better to say no outright then to make a fool of yourself.

Feel free to add your thoughts inputs and ideas - good luck, remain blessed and God speed and wisdom to you all!

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