I am very proud to say that earlier this week, I went to one of my identified early voting sites
in metro Atlanta and cast my votes in the mid-term election of 2018! This year’s voting experience has seemed more vital than even, as our country and our democracy is facing real challenges on many fronts. Now maybe more than ever the voice of the people needs to be heard not only in demonstrations/social media bursts or blog posts( yours truly totally included) but at the voting booth all across our country and across all ages, demographics, etc! Our country and our democracy needs us to vote now!!
Walking out of the polling location, I had a complete flashback to a moment coming out of the 2000 election where I was taught a very valuable lesson on this same point, that the voice of our country needs to be heard through the voting booth. It was in 2001 or 2002 when I was a senior marketing executive at Coke, where I was sent to a meeting held at Home Depot headquarters to a meeting of Atlanta based companies being convened by Norman Lear. For those who don’t know, Mr. Lear is an award winning ( Emmy, Peabody, National Medal for the Arts, Kennedy Center Honors, etc.) writer, director and producer who was the creator of the TV shows “All in the Family,” The Jeffersons,” “Good Times,” “Maude,” to name just a few. He had convened this meeting to gain support from Atlanta based companies for a personal project of national interest. Compelling and mysterious… I was hooked!
As we gathered in the board room at Home Depot, we all quickly caught a glimpse of what the meeting was all about! Norman Lear had purchased one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence ( a life size facsimile was in the center of the room) and he wanted to take it on tour across America and he wanted our support. While I was totally blown away by the presentation, I sheepishly asked what his objective was for the tour. He quietly responded that ” a healthy democracy is an active democracy” and that the sole purpose of his tour was to expand voter registration and turnout. He reflected back to the 2000 presidential election and commented that it was a major setback for our democracy that the election had been decided by a few hundred “hanging chads” in Florida while voter turnout nationally was only 54% of eligible voters… as he said the voice of the people was not “heard” in 2000.
While we can’t go back eighteen years, we can take action now! This is a moment in our county’s history where we need less complaining and MORE VOTING! Less anguished social media threads aghast at the latest tweet or commentary and MORE VOTING! Fewer journalists or amateur blog writers wringing their hands at the state of our democracy (again me 100% included) and MORE VOTING! Talk to your friends, your neighbors, your kids and their friends and find ways to encourage and help them to vote! Get absentee ballots to your kids in college (and even to their friends!) Help folks find their way to their polling locations or send around directions to early voting sights ( as my friend Pete did with the links above) but vote yourselves and help others to vote!! Vote to help our country and our democracy…. Vote for America!
postscript: walking to my car yesterday at the polling spot, a fellow voter in a Braves t-shirt slapped me on the back ( a total stranger so I was a bit startled for sure) and said “this is a great day in America!” While I have no idea of his name, background , political orientation, etc. I agreed with him … any day we get a chance to vote is a “great day in America!”
I have now had the pleasure to work in the business landscape for over thirty years, most in a variety of sales and marketing executive roles across number of well known consumer products companies. Most recently, I have had the pleasure to advise a large number of senior executives as part of the consulting practice that I now lead. Through all of those experiences, I have had the chance to work with VERY EFFECTIVE as well as VERY INEFFECTIVE/DESTRUCTIVE senior leaders. While I do not believe there is a simple formula or model that leads to effective impactful leaders, I do believe there are a number of key considerations or practices that help effective leaders practice their craft. Today’s essay is about three attributes / practices ( the “active” voice is important in this essay) that I think are critical for leaders to be effective, the attributes / practices that I call ” The Three G’s for Leaders,” Gratitude, Generosity, & Gumption!
The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
This attribute is foundational for all of the “Three G’s and in this spirit I have highlighted it first in my list of three. We are NEVER thankful enough, for the resources, teams, businesses, etc that we have the chance to work with in our professional lives, none the less the friends, family, experiences etc. that we have in our personal lives. Always start by saying “Thanks!” Great leaders “get it” that they have unique roles and responsibilities in their roles and should start by being thankful and appreciative of the role and the teams/businesses that surround them. Too often leaders feel like they need to show how smart they are, or how decisive they are, or how powerful they are, … rarely starting by showing how grateful they are to have the chance to lead the business/team at hand. An important element of the definition is the “active voice” of the last two works, “return kindness.” “Gratitude” is not only being appreciative, and being ready to show appreciation but to take action to “return kindness” to the organization /business that surround them. Think to yourself how rarely the phrase “Leadership Kindness” is bantered around as a key trait for successful leaders …. maybe a theme for an upcoming essay ??
The quality of being kind and generous.
This attribute / practice emanates from the first “G”, and is completely active in tone and orientation. As leaders, think about how you are taking intentional action to be “generous” to your direct reports, to your key clients/customers, to your board or your executive team ??? these aren’t considerations that I see very often advising key leaders today, and I saw them rarely across my leadership roles inside of corporations. Leaders that I encounter are always SO BUSY, SO STRETCHED, SO DRIVEN, SO STRESSED, etc. but never “SO GENEROUS.” I totally understand that this is really hard, who has the time to find slots in their over-scheduled calendars to take actions of kindness or generosity?? While I relate to the fact that this one is hard, i want to suggest that it is not something to try to “schedule” into your lives, but to incorporate into your being! We rarely consider that we need to breathe, walk, eat, drink, sleep, use the bathroom, etc. just to live. Could we work to find ways to incorporate “generosity” into our day to day rhythms, to be as regular and natural as getting our morning coffee or commuting to work??
Shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness.
As leaders, I hope that we can all remember the “Three G’s” in good times and bad, working to take action to bring “Gratitude,” “Generosity,” and “Gumption” into our leadership roles in the days ahead.
Note: in the essay above I have used the phrase “attribute / practice” with intent. I don’t want anyone to think that “The three G’s” are learned in some business school class, or are inherent qualities of some leaders but not others! We must all keep practicing the craft of leadership and keep looking for ways to improve our skills and approaches in many areas and certainly in these three!