Its hard to imagine that ten years ago the week, my good friend and old boss passed away after his fight with the disease, ALS. It was a unique and complicated/challenging time, and I view it as a real treasure of my life that I was able to spend a lot of time with Bruce in the months and weeks before his passing. The stories, the little interactions, the funny moments of those times together all add up to an unusual collage of remembrance and lessons… many of which I have passed along in previous essays and a few that I will share as easy links in the following paragraphs.
Since Bruce’s passing, I have shared his story not just through this blog but with groups of folks in retreats and presentations that I have lead at Bolthouse Farms or with a number of my consulting clients. Hundreds of folks who never knew Bruce up in Appleton Wisconsin have come to know his humor, his insights and his wisdom primarily through the stories of those days I had with him in the spring and early summer of 2009.
While many of his stories hit home, the video above that he made for the folks at Kimberly-Clark has been a keepsake of mine for the past ten years. I keep it on my laptop desktop and rewatch it regularly, especially when I feel that I need a little nudge from my friend Bruce! Another story that has really triggered a lot of attention is his view of “Authenticity, the Foundation of Leadership.” This specific story, and the related chart reviewed in the essay has really connected to a wide range of folks across roles and work environments. The idea that “authentic leaders” have the greatest organizational impact and Bruce’s view that the basis of authenticity is the alignment of a leaders “words and actions!” Staying on the “authenticity rail” is a significant concept in this area and I have watched it really connect to executives in their own leadership journeys over the past ten years.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
“Authenticity”, the Foundation of Leadership
I sincerely miss Bruce and would love to have his available today as I dive into my new role as President of Bolthouse Farms Brands. I could really use his good humored “push/nudge,” his encouragement for me to go beyond my limited current thinking and find key insights for future performance. As I reflects on the picture above of his grave in a lovely cemetery near the river in Appleton, I am once again reminded of his lessons for me today!! Take a close look and you will see one of Bruce’s constant quotes “Always pursue the truth…” on the bottom of the cemetery marker. I can literally hear those words in my ears today, from 30+ years ago when I was a marketing assistant at Kimberly-Clark, working for Bruce, when I brought him some sort of analysis that was not quite finished and he would send me back to my cube with those words ringing in my ears. While certainly appropriate then, with is very applicable for me today! The business I have just jumped back into is in decline, and with lots of challenges across the board and a cursory review of the facts…. “the truth” will not cut it! I need to listen to Bruce’s advice today and push my company to dig deeper, search harder and “always pursue the truth” as we clarify the road ahead.
A ten year memory and salute to my friend and mentor…. Bruce Paynter!!