Peter, the CEO stopped the discussion and said “I don’t want us to be that team. I do not want to be Boss Hogg.”
Boss Hogg from the 1980s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard was always confident he was in-charge, yet somehow every episode he and his Deputies end up in a wild car chase, dramatic crashes in every direction, and outsmarted by ‘those damn Duke boys’ again!”
It was the morning of Day 2 of an intensive Leadership Team planning workshop.
The leadership team of a long established organization who were already on a path of annual ‘belt tightening’ when market pressure and government policy changes had them feeling a victim of pressures beyond their control.
It had been a long and challenging day exposing a number of hard realities about the current situation. We had identified and defined external issues, and also a number of internal constraints.
There had been particularly energetic discussion around the Problem/ Assumptions Model.
On the Day 2 morning while we were assembling for the day, having a coffee and idle chat Peter, the CEO, came to me as the facilitator and said I know we have an agreed agenda, however something important has come up and I want to take over the opening slot. No problem, over to you.
What unfolded was not what I or the other leadership team members expected.
It is not uncommon for ‘busy’ leadership teams to break their own focused time with some urgent issue of the day. The team and I sat down as Peter moved to the front of the room.
He paused at the front a little longer than the team were used to, to ensure he had everyone’s attention.
‘I found yesterday a little confronting. It was like a veil was lifted on many topics I thought we understood. I woke up last night and couldn’t stop thinking of Boss Hogg and his Deputies in the 80’s TV classic The Dukes of Hazzard.
I don’t want us to be that team. I don’t want to be Boss Hogg.
“I run this town!!”
~ Boss Hogg
Boss Hogg and his deputy Roscoe hatching up another brilliant plan.
That day the team activated a new practice of taking time to consider assumptions as they identified problems.
- What assumptions are being made?
- How will we test our assumptions?
- Who can validate our assumptions?
Peter’s demonstration of Self-awareness and Self-Accountability released a very different energy in the team as they identified their Critical Success Factors for the next 6 months and allocated owners around the team.
I find as I initially talk with Leadership teams actively navigating more turbulent times there is a lot of curiosity around stepping up a Leadership Team Change-fitness level. While in leadership circles the terms of Growth and Fixed Mindset are well known there is still a strong inclination to the view that people are just a who they are, or the less polite, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.
Yet, we all know of a middle-aged colleague who had an epiphany things were not working for them, they were out of condition and of declining health, and was able to revitalize themselves.
In my specialization, I have worked with around 100 leadership teams at the strategic junctures – setting up the next phase – learning from the previous phase – which has provided me the good fortune to have witnessed this stepping up a Leadership Team Change-fitness level many times.
At the wrap up of the day with Peter and his tram we took the time to go around the room and check in on the views of progress and any individual reflections team members would like to share.
The affection for the long time (somewhat paternalistic leader) Peter was clear, but like a teenager testing their boundaries, one of the leadership team said they had a special THANK YOU for Peter for his leadership, who was unlike TV Boss Hogg who never had this epiphany in 147 episodes!
What has been your experience?