4. Leaders: An Endangered Species, Pt 2

In this episode, we’re going to pick up from where we left off last time to talk more about office politics, because, unfortunately, there’s always more to talk about. And we’ll focus a little more here on how to deal with them.

Show Notes:

  • The Difficulty Lies Not So Much in Developing New Ideas as in Escaping from Old Ones.
    1. People are creatures of habit
    2. Uncertainty scares folks
  • You Never Change Things by Fighting the Existing Reality. To Change Something, Build a New Model that Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.

– Buckminster Fuller, architect, author, designer, inventor & futurist

  1. Cab companies were never going to change, so Uber filled the void
  2. Clear alternatives are the only ones that have a shot of making more than just incremental change
  • If You Want to Make Enemies, Try to Change Something. Woodrow Wilson
    1. The irrational anger people have around change makes it tough to implement
    2. As superior as whatever change you’re offering might be, don’t expect to be greeted as a conquering hero, there will be resistance
  • 8 Steps for Leading Change
    1. Harvard Megabrain, Professor John Kotter, came up with this simple process, and I’ve been using it to my advantage for years
    2. Consider this process your blueprint for change
  • Make People Part of the Change. If They Don’t Create It, They’ll Feel Threatened By It. And if They Feel Threatened, They’ll Fight Back.

– Joe Brown, IDEO Portfolio Director

  • If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader—Sell Ice Cream.

– Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, Nudger of the Universe

  • What Are You Willing to Give Up to Get What You Want?
    1. Strategy is choice
    2. When you say yes to one thing, you’re automatically saying no to another. Accept it.
  • When They Discover the Center of the Universe, a Lot of People Are Going to be Very Disappointed that They Are Not It
  • You Will Never Truly Be Successful Until You Learn to Give Beyond Yourself.

– Will Ferrell, Comedian & Provocateur

  • Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger
    1. Back in the day, you probably didn’t receive half the help you could have used. Now you can rectify that.
    2. Pay it forward. You’ll help others and yourself by reminding yourself of the things that helped you in your success or held you back from it.

Transcript:

Welcome to Episode 4 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about leadership, or at least what passes for leadership these days.

On this episode we’ll pick up where we left off last time, taking on some of the issues of leadership, or the lack of it. It’s a huge issue, so there’s a lot to cover. Hold on to your seats, my friends.

Last time, we talked about the role vision and change play in leadership. How core values never change, but their definitions do. For example, the American Founding Fathers declared that “All men are created equal.” Except people of color worth only 3/5ths a white male. And women weren’t exactly equal either. (Sadly, we still have equality issues.) But again, values stay put, but there definitions change. That’s why established companies often stop moving forward. They haven’t refreshed their values. As legendary economist John Maynard Keynes said…

The Difficulty Lies Not So Much in Developing New Ideas as in Escaping from    Old Ones. 

Have you ever waited anxiously for your leadership team to introduce the “new way” forward, only to hear what sounds quite familiar to what you’re already doing? No surprise, we love the familiar. It’s comforting. It’s understandable. It works. Or at least, it used to work. And it’s hard to move on from it. Yet we must. Sticking to the fundamentals but redefining them for today.

You Never Change Things by Fighting the Existing Reality. To Change Something, Build a New Model that Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.

– Buckminster Fuller, Architect, author, designer, inventor & futurist

The iPhone made regular phones obsolete. GPS made maps obsolete. Uber made cab companies obsolete. Servant leadership is making command-and-control leadership obsolete (we hope). Whether it’s technology or philosophy, true change rarely comes through incremental change. You have to offer something better. More importantly, you have to offer something different. Not just to your clients, but to your team. Surprisingly, when it comes to leadership and culture, the Creative Industry is amazingly uncreative. What a great opportunity for you.

If You Want to Make Enemies, Try to Change Something.  — Woodrow Wilson

As much as most people bemoan the need for change and progress, they also like security, consistency and taking as little risk as possible. People are funny like that. The only thing you can guarantee them is that if you don’t change, you will all fail. It’s up to you as a leader to create an invitation to change. One that’s too hard to resist.

8 Steps for Leading Change

Harvard Megabrain, Professor John Kotter, came up with this simple process, and I’ve been using it to my advantage for years:

  • Establish a sense of urgency…No one changes things unless they have to
  • Form a powerful coalition…Find the right visionaries, doers and influencers
  • Create a Vision…Your North Star
  • Communicate the Vision…The right mix of meetings and messaging
  • Empower others to act…A vision is an invite to add your touch
  • Create short term wins…Get some skins on the wall for momentum
  • Cement improvements, while accelerating more change…

Keep on keeping on

  • Bake in new approaches…Make them part of your DNA

Make People Part of the Change. If They Don’t Create It, They’ll Feel Threatened By It. And if They Feel Threatened, They’ll Fight Back. 

– Joe Brown, IDEO Portfolio Director

Change in a creative workplace is not going to happen by you coming down with two tablets and 10 commandments everyone must follow. Sorry, most leaders don’t have that kind of authority. You’re not there to boss, you’re there to serve. And the more power you give away, the more power that should come back to you. Not that everyone will be happy with you.

If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader—Sell Ice Cream. 

– Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, Someone Who Nudged Us All Forward

Just because you get into leadership doesn’t mean that you’ve crossed the finish line. It’s just the beginning of another race. A harder race. One full of tough decisions. Some of which are bound not to please everyone you work with. Popularity is not going to get you where you need to go. Nor is fear the way. Earn respect first, and then take it from there. In fact, one creative leader told me that when he had layoffs, that if it was close, he would fire his friends first, so people understood that merit came before friendship. Whoa!

If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader—Sell Ice Cream.

– Part II

On the flipside…If everyone is miserable at your office and hates you, don’t immediately rationalize that they hate you because you’re doing such a whizbang job. Sometimes there’s a thin line between being tough saint and a holy terror.

What Are You Willing to Give Up to Get What You Want?

Strategy is choice. So says Harvard Business School guru, Michael Porter. That’s why the word “no” may be more important than “yes.” If you lack the ability to say no, you’re essentially saying no to focus. To efficiency. And effectiveness. Yet, how often do you see those in leadership trying to have it all? Or a client asking you to mashup two good campaigns to make one indecipherable mess? So please, please, learn how to say yes to no. And start by asking yourself, What am I willing to give up to get what I want?

When They Discover the Center of the Universe, a Lot of People Are Going to be Very Disappointed that They Are Not It

…And many of these people will be in upper management and leadership. Many supervisors still divide their teams into Thinkers, Doers and Helpers. Placing themselves at the top of the food chain. Well, when you look at people as mere minions, you’re not likely to receive much engagement or breakthrough ideas from them. Ask yourself, are they there to serve you, or are you there to serve them? If it’s the latter, you can do better.

You Will Never Truly Be Successful Until You Learn to Give Beyond Yourself.

– Will Ferrell, Comedian & Provocateur

When a comedian understands this, you better take it seriously. Like in the works of Shakespeare, the fool is often the wisest character.

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on leadership:

Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger

Remember when you first started out in the creative world? Wobbly as a newborn giraffe? Yet somehow you got through it. Got on your feet and learned how to walk. To run. Who helped you along the way? Would your climb have gone more quickly if more people had paid attention? Offered advice? Probably. So, when your career advances, think back to what you wish others had said or done, and then do it yourself for others. Show you understand. Show you care. Your people will appreciate it. They’ll grow. As will your business.

Well, that about wraps up our fourth episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. Thanks so much or listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.