Colin Neenan noted that “Life just seems so full of connections.”
It’s those connections, and the behaviors that impact that, that inform my work. In my consulting practice coaching executives and teams, as well as career coaching, I’m focused on those actions and behaviors rather than the feelings and emotions behind them. That “behaviors first” approach in business enables individual and team coaching clients to achieve quicker, more durable and quantifiable results..
Your behavior forms your reputation and more broadly, your brand [see Why You Need a Brand Called You ] And when it comes to behaving effectively with people there is the “ought-to-do” reason and the “smart-to-do” reason.
In the case of leading people and organizations, or working on teams, the two reasons intersect. Much of my work as an executive and team coach is helping people make those small changes in behaviors that help them move from “not-so-hot-to-be-around” to “glad to work with.”
Here are some cases in point, with a qualifier first:
- I live in the San Francisco, which is located in something also know as the San Francisco Bay area. It’s a region of about 7,000 square miles, and around 7.4M people. Not exactly Shanghai, London or New York, but not Boise or Birmingham either. Lots of people and reasonably large geography. I live a pretty heads-down life consisting of mostly work I enjoy a great deal and parenting I enjoy even more. No society page pictures, no stream of cocktail parties or big events; up at 6 AM and bedtime around 9 PM. You get the picture – nothing unusual and many people would consider it sort of boring. I happen to like that life but it’s not the type of geography or lifestyle where you’d expect to bump into people you know all the time. You’d be wrong.
- Suzana (“Sue”) DelliSanti is from New York City where she worked at AIG. A colleague from Barclays Capital referred her to me for a role at Barclays Global Investors (now part of BlackRock) when I worked there as a senior HR generalist and also ran staffing. She ended up being hired at BGI in the college recruiting arena. She later left for a bigger recruiting role at McKesson Corporation, where I previously worked as a Senior VP of Human Resources. A McKesson Sue got to know many of the same people with whom I had worked. Earlier this month she accepted a the Head of G & A Talent Acquisition role with LinkedIn. While waiting in the lobby of LinkedIn she exchanged small talk with someone who turned out to be a friend of mine from out of town.
- Last week I had coffee with Ahmed Khaishgi, the COO of SquareTrade, “the largest independent warranty provider and the only warranty consistently rated 5-stars by consumers.” Ahmed, who grew up mostly out North America, went to business school with a client of mine, Melissa Ma of Asia Alternatives, LLC.
- Two days later I had a catch-up meeting with Ken Boehm, who recently took a role as a VP of Compensation & Benefits at Synopsys, a client firm an hour south of San Francisco in Mountain View, near where LinkedIn is headquartered. Ken had previously been a client at his former firm, Gilead Sciences, a firm located in what’s known as “the Peninsula.”
- I’ll catch lunch later today with IDEO’s John Rehm, as he makes his way back from Singapore to spend the holidays in Oregon. While John and I both went to Willamette University, I’ve got about 15 years on him. John’s first job was teaching – and he worked with someone I did go to school with and knew in the form of Cathy Percich at Irvington Elementary School.
These illustrations are not about my amazing life – they are about your amazing life. Those connections aren’t just around me, they are around you every day. You get the picture; lots of random and some not so random connections and intersections. The point is that your behavior; how effectively or poorly does your behavior define you in what is a very, very small world.
So while treating people well is virtuous, it’s also smart. I can almost hear one of my favorite execs, Hubie McMorrow, saying something to the effect that “If you always treat people well you don’t have to remember how you treated them.” Your reputation / brand is what precedes you, as well as what you leave behind.
That jingle from 1934 about Santa Claus coming to town may have been on to something.
Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.