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The Reason Why

Today I was reminded why I lead the way I do. It’s my amazing memory for all things emotional.

I never liked being told what to do and how to do it….especially when left out of the information gathering meetings that often preceded lofty mandates. Doing things in a way that made no sense to me often left me feeling powerless and overlooked, and (I admit it) gossipy and divisive.

If I think back, I felt much the same way as a child: astonished and fearful of tirades and threats, angry at injustice, and justified in my subsequent bad behavior. No winners.

As I began to sprout as a leader at K40 Electronics in the early 80?s, I posted a bumper sticker in my office above the white board: ”IF THE PEOPLE WILL LEAD, THE LEADERS WILL FOLLOW.” And I have been following these brilliant, capable, creative, enthusiastic people for thirty years. It’s wise, it’s easy, it’s profitable, it’s right. Best of all, everyone wins.

I had a close call this morning. As I am approving new housing designs for the K40 Electronics 360 Sphere Series, I decide to make one final improvement. My chief engineer has been working with me for over 20 years and hears by my intensity the importance of my proposed revision. He’ll make it happen. A while later my phone rings, “Peggy, are you sure you want to do this? Once we make the change and cut steel, it can’t be undone.”

I quickly call a meeting with the whole company so I can hear in detail all of the issues we’ve had regarding the change I was about to make. Zero. ZERO! Not one issue. Ever! And I thought I was brilliant for proposing this improvement. Foolish. “No, Mike. We won’t be making the change after all.”

When I lock the doors tonight, I’ll realize once again that I am not safekeeping K40?s assets. They have gone home to their families. I am merely locking the doors of this sacred space of learning, where the people indeed lead, and this leader endeavors to follow.


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