18 Chapters
Medium 9781576751831

9 The Transformation of National Stores: A Journey from the Old Control-Based Environment to the New Freedom-Based Workplace

Lebow, Robert Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The steward knocked softly on the door as he slid it open. “Gentlemen, dinner will be served beginning at four-thirty. I just wanted to let you know now so that you can plan accordingly.”

“Thank you very much,” replied Pete. “We’d like to reserve a table for three of us.”

Pete turned to Kip and said, “Remember, Lucy wants to join us.” Kip nodded. “Could you stop by at around five-fifteen, and let us know if there are any tables available, and also let Ms. Lucy Woo know? I don’t know what compartment she’s in,” said Pete.

Kip turned to Pete. “Considering the circumstances, why don’t we bail Yolanda out of her predicament with our buddy Hank Striker?”

“Not a bad idea,” said Pete smiling. “Who knows, if we’re lucky, Striker might join us.” The two men laughed, and Kip signaled with his hands that that was a mischievous idea.

“I’d be happy to reserve a table for you gentlemen and to inform the ladies of your invitation. What is the other woman’s last name so we might look it up?” said the steward.110

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751831

13 Transformation Begins with a Visionary Leader

Lebow, Robert Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The group was enjoying their dessert when Pete asked Kip another clarifying question. “Kip, earlier today you very briefly mentioned the Visionary Leader, and you’ve spoken exclusively about the Wise Counsel. What’s the difference?”

Kip took a moment to finish his last bite of pie and turned to Pete while the ladies talked between themselves. “I’d be glad to explain, Pete. As I mentioned earlier, a Wise Counsel uses three primary strategies. First, they share a Keen Internal Vision at every opportunity.”

Pete chimed in, “Teachable moments!”

“Right,” nodded Kip. “Second, Wise Counsels become resources to people, and, third, they wait to be asked. What I mean by that is, they will not take ownership for a staff member’s or team’s job. If they did, they’d be taking accountability away from that very person or group.”

“OK, so that’s a summary of the Wise Counsel’s role, but what about the role of the Visionary Leader?” asked Pete. At this point Yolanda and Lucy began to pick up on the two men’s discussion.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751831

10 The Wise Counsel

Lebow, Robert Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Kip, you seem to be describing a leader who’s different from the traditional leadership models I grew up with,” observed Pete.

“Quite true,” agreed Kip. He grabbed his yellow pad and wrote concepts 1, 2, and 3 while he spoke.

“Freedom-based leadership employs three primary strategies: (1) mentoring people by sharing a Keen Internal Vision, (2) becoming a resource to your people, and (3) waiting to be asked—don’t take responsibility for the staff’s activities and commitments. We call this kind of leader a Wise Counsel.”1 At that Kip showed Pete a printed sheet he had compiled about the role of the Wise Counsel.

“As a longtime control-based manager, the very thought of waiting to be asked strikes fear in my heart,” said Pete.

“Pete, it would,” said Kip, “because control-based management systems expect people to do what they’re told without asking questions. In a control-based work environment, waiting to be asked, more often than not, would be disastrous.”

Pete interjected, “Yeah, it’s in the supervisors’ job descriptions to be proactive in their leadership, not to wait.”

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751831

1 I’m Pedaling as Fast as I Can, But It’s Not Fast Enough!

Lebow, Robert Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The California Zephyr was at full speed when Pete verbalized the thoughts he was having about what Kip had just said. “I agree accountability is a big issue, but I don’t think you can get people to be accountable without sensible controls in place.

“Kip, if you’re suggesting in any way that I should ease up on my managers and staff, you’re crazy. And I’m not saying this to be tough. I’m saying it to be realistic. I have no experience that suggests that giving up control will get me or my company to the finish line.” Pete realized that he might be coming on a little too strong, but he needed to let Kip know that he wasn’t from the “let’s all hold hands” school of leadership.

“Pete, at one point in my career I’d have agreed with you,” said Kip. “In fact, it literally took a heart attack to change my mind on the whole subject. Before that life-changing event, I prided myself on being a tough, but fair, boss. I thought leadership meant that you played the game like the legendary Lone Ranger—fighting the bad guys single-handedly. I was just fifty-three years old and the CEO of National Stores. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?”

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751831

15 Owning Your Job Means No Excuses— The First Step to Freedom

Lebow, Robert Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The midmorning sun on the new-fallen snow created a glare that was nearly blinding. One of the waiters approached the booth where the enlarged group was seated and asked, “May I pull the window shade for you?”

Pete and Yolanda, who were next to the window facing into the bright sunlight, nodded appreciatively. After the shade was pulled, the waiter cleared the breakfast dishes and poured them each another cup of coffee.

Kip turned to the waiter and said, “Mr. Striker just joined us. I think he wants breakfast.”

Pete took a sip of his coffee and said to Kip, “I really like your description of freedom-based leaders, both the Wise Counsel and the Visionary Leader. But what about staff members—how do you get them to be accountable?”

Striker normally would have waded into the conversation, but he had enough sense to keep quiet and listen.

“I also am interested in this issue,” said Lucy, hoping to keep Hank outnumbered at the table. Yolanda sat back, letting Lucy and Pete run block for her.

Kip obliged. Turning politely to Hank Striker he said, “Yesterday, we all met and began talking about a new approach to managing people. I call it a freedom-based philosophy.”

See All Chapters

See All Chapters