Big Red Car here. Looks like another great day in paradise. On Earth as it is in Texas!
The Boss was shaking his head on the way back from coffee this morning. [Hey, I was driving. I was out early with the top down and the wind on my nose and I was loving life in the ATX.]
What got his goat this morning was the subjects of tone and the common touch.
The way you conduct your affairs and the manner in which you speak to others sets a tone which colors and flavors all relationships.
If you are the CEO of a company and things are starting to go the right way — well, Compadre, your folks do not really care how tough it is to get the bambinos into private school, how expensive it is to spend a two week vacation in Italy or the fact that your BMW is having air conditioning problems.
And when that is what you are focused on, your folks think you are a jerk and a bit full of yourself.
Because guess what? That is not what they are interested in hearing about. They are interested in hearing about how you are going to make their lives richer by your leadership of the enterprise to the Promised Land.
The Promised Land is where their stock options are in the freakin’ money and they can start worrying about private schools, vacations in Italy and their BMWs.
Until then, STFU already and tone it down.
The Common Touch
Rudyard Kipling had it right in his great poem “IF” when he said:
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;”
In all things, CEOs will convert their vision into reality by the formation and leadership of teams. Your team members will not likely be too many of your peers from Stanford, Harvard, MIT or Wharton — some, yes. The majority no.
Keep the common touch. The grounded view of the world from which you launched your enterprise. The humble, lean, agile, nimble startup and success story that you always intended to create.
Do not begin to believe your own press clippings.
Tone and the common touch will ultimately pay dividends or exact a huge penance. It is your choice. Choose wisely.
I believe that many leaders fail to see this notion and thus wander into a type of almost irretrievable tone deafness which destroys their common touch.
I think when you jam sequestration down the throats of your citizens and then continue to party likes it 1999 — you lose your way and you lose your followers.
While a leader is always a leader intellectually, a leader ceases to be an effective leader when his followers abandon him.
Be sensitive to this real world implication. You are only a leader if you have followers.
But, hey, what the Hell do I know really? I’m just a Big Red Car.
Be kind to yourself. You deserve it. Be sensitive to tone and maintain that common touch. You are a good person and the Big Red Car knows that. Always liked that about you.