Issue No. 322 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting spotlights a new book recommended by Jerry White, Leaders Eat Last. The author writes, “Trust is like lubrication. It reduces friction and creates conditions much more conducive to performance.” And this reminder: subscribe here for Drucker Mondays, as 52 guest writers share their favorite quotes and commentary from the new book, A Year With Peter Drucker.
I Deserve a Styrofoam Cup
I know. I know. Every issue I rhapsodize about yet one more humdinger of a book. A must read. The-answer-to-all-your problems.
But…you can blame Jerry White for this one. When Jerry and Mary White speak, I listen. I write it down. They are the real deal—and they don’t speak, write or recommend lightly. Jerry emailed me on the last day of 2014: “One of my bell-ringers this year was Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek. Secular, but with such strong biblical ideas. Gen. [4 star] Kevin Chilton put me on to that book.”
You’ve likely enjoyed the TED talk by Simon Sinek (one of the 20 most popular talks) based on his book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Perhaps you’ve even read the book. Some think his latest book is even better.
I’ve underlined dozens and dozens of brilliant quotes and insights in this gem, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. It’s already on my Top-10 list for 2015. I’ve read it slowly over thousands of airline miles and quiet nights at home. Powerful stuff.
So I’m torn: give you the 30,000-foot view—or entice you with a powerful story? Let’s go with the story.
The Ceramic Cup
(an excerpt from Chapter 8, “Why We Have Leaders”)
I heard a story about a former Under Secretary of Defense who gave a speech at a large conference. He took his place on the stage and began talking, sharing his prepared remarks with the audience. He paused to take a sip of coffee from the Styrofoam cup he’d brought on stage with him. He took another sip, looked down at the cup and smiled.
“You know,” he said, interrupting his own speech, “I spoke here last year. I presented at this same conference on this same stage. But last year, I was still an Under Secretary,” he said. “I flew here in business class and when I landed, there was someone waiting for me at the airport to take me to my hotel. Upon arriving at my hotel,” he continued, “there was someone else waiting for me. They had already checked me into the hotel, so they handed me my key and escorted me up to my room. The next morning, when I came down, again there was someone waiting for me in the lobby to drive me to this same venue that we are in today. I was taken through a back entrance, shown to the greenroom and handed a cup of coffee in a beautiful ceramic cup.”
“But this year, as I stand here to speak to you, I am no longer the Under Secretary,” he continued. “I flew here coach class and when I arrived at the airport yesterday there was no one there to meet me. I took a taxi to the hotel, and when I got there, I checked myself in and went by myself to my room. This morning, I came down to the lobby and caught another taxi to come here. I came in the front door and found my way backstage. Once there, I asked one of the techs if there was any coffee. He pointed to a coffee machine on a table against the wall. So I walked over and poured myself a cup of coffee into this here Styrofoam cup,” he said as he raised the cup to show the audience.
“It occurs to me,” he continued, “the ceramic cup they gave me last year . . . it was never meant for me at all. It was meant for the position I held. I deserve a Styrofoam cup.
“This is the most important lesson I can impart to all of you,” he offered. “All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a Styrofoam cup.”
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic below or this title: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, by Simon Sinek.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
#1. Talk about the “ceramic cups” you enjoy in your present position. Are you holding onto them loosely—or with a tight grip?
#2. One of Sinek’s key pillars is what he calls a “Circle of Safety” in the workplace. He says work-life balance “has nothing to do with the hours we work or the stress we suffer. It has to do with where we feel safe.” So….what enriches that safe feeling in our department or organization—and what detracts from it? (The book has insights on this.)
Less Control, More Stress - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
“It is not the demands of the job that cause the most stress, but the degree of control workers feel they have throughout their day. The studies also found that the effort required by a job is not in itself stressful, but rather the imbalance between the effort we give and the reward we feel. Put simply: less
control, more stress.” (page 29)
For more resources and ideas on team-building, visit The Team Bucket webpage.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting is emailed free two to four times a month to subscribers, the frequency of which is based on an algorithm of book length, frequent flyer miles, and client deadlines.
Plus...check out John's post this week on the ECFA governance blog, "A Dynamite Idea for Your Next Board Retreat."