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Fax of Life

November 21, 2006

I have been getting Fax of Life from Ruble Shelly for a long time now…well since it was via a Fax.  Until my computer crashed a year ago or so, I had every one of them since it went to e-mail.  I thought I would share this one with you as it relates to leadership and culture of a organization or place.  Also in case you didn’t know about these and want to subscribe.

Title:     Leaders Create the Culture

Date:    For the Week of November 20, 2006

Leadership is a tricky thing. It doesn’t happen because one has the most impressive title – President, Executive Director, CEO, Mom, or Senior Pastor. The most impressive office does not a leader make – corner with glass, monster desk, art on display. Leadership is subtler. And it is essential to success.

The one thing every leader in any field must be able to do is create the organization’s culture. A negative to neutral culture yields minimal gains to huge losses. Put the same personnel in a positive culture, and outstanding results begin to emerge. Here is a case in point from Major League Baseball.

Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers was named American League Manager of the Year a few days ago. He is now one of the few people to have won that prestigious award in both the National and American Leagues. Leyland led a team that last year seemed to be in a death spiral to a 95-67 record in 2006 and its first World Series competition in 22 years.

In his typical self-deprecating way, he gave the team, the owners, and the fans the bulk of the credit. He even praised the previous manager who had been fired after 2005’s dismal season. Pressed to account for his own contribution, he finally named it. “I believe if I did one thing right, I almost forced these players to believe how good they were,” said Leyland. “I instilled the confidence in them that in the past they tiptoed, and now they were ready to crash the door down.”

The manager created the culture. He took players with skills that had been sharpened from Little League to the Major Leagues and instilled confidence. It wasn’t cute shirts and locker room signs. It wasn’t team meetings with chants. It was a subtle, intangible “feel” that operates at a level below the surface. Yet everybody entering that culture senses it and is energized by it.

It happens in families. Mom and Dad make it a safe, nurturing place, and the kids are seen to smile and heard to laugh often. There are lots of hugs. Home is the favorite place for every single one of the adults and children.

It happens in businesses. The stimulus to achievement isn’t criticism or threats. Good leaders notice and affirm the positive contributions of everyone from top sales person to new support person to maintenance staff.

It happens in churches. Under Christ as its head, a community of faith functions so that every part is valued. There is a palpable atmosphere that even visitors sense when they walk through the door. The vibes are positive.

Leadership doesn’t bully and try to make others yield. It lifts heads and builds confidence so people can perform well. It creates a healthy culture where every person feels valued and wants to contribute to the success of the whole.

Good leaders don’t build cult followings. They build confident people.



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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    November 21, 2006 9:38 pm

    That is a great article. I love to read anything Rubel writes.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Tommy and Kim!

  2. November 22, 2006 12:42 pm

    That’s a great article, Tommy. Thanks!

    You have a great Thankgiving, too. Ours is about 100% better than last year’s so far. Remember last Thanksgiving for us? Tom was working long, long hours 7 days and nights a week and the week of Thanksgiving he went in to work at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and didn’t get back home until 4 a.m. Thursday morning! It was awful.

    I finally drove from Slidell up to Picayune to go see him on Wednesday afternoon just to have a few minutes with him and so he could take a quick break – the only one he got the entire 48 hours. I was also looking for shingles for our roof that needed re-roofing after Katrina, remember that?

    Today he’s busy, but not like that was. And here we are living in Picayune now and building our house. We have friends coming in from Austin this afternoon for a few days and are going to smoke baby back ribs tomorrow! Fun stuff!

    Y’all have a good holiday together. Just think – hopefully by next Thankgiving you’ll have a new little daughter to be thankful for.

  3. November 27, 2006 10:53 am

    Yeah, I still get “Smoke Signals from Williard Collins.”

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