Amy Lyman Kicked My Assumptions
Marshall McLuhan said, “Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness.” Author, Amy Lyman showed me one of mine.
Our assumptions expose us:
Beliefs about, the world, ourselves, and others form assumptions. For example, some assume my direct style and enjoyment of controversy is a strategy to drive traffic to my blog.
You might think Dan is a blog-traffic whore. It’s true, I love visitors. I enjoy watching the numbers go up. But there’s something more.
I’m driven to instigating thought and love the conversations direct sentences inspire. The invisible values of inspiring thought and creating conversation underpin my visible behaviors.
“What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his creed, but from the assumptions on which he habitually acts.” George Bernard Shaw
An exploded assumption:
Back to Amy Lyman and her book, “The Trust Worthy Leader.” Amy’s interviews and research indicate leaders create and reflect trustworthiness through:
- Valuing and engaging followers
- Sharing information
- Developing others
- Movement through uncertainty to pursue opportunity
I assume successful leaders extend honor to others and that’s the end of it. Of course honoring others is an essential leadership behavior. But there’s something more.
Amy’s thirty years of interviews revealed great leaders feel honor. They feel honored to lead. She wasn’t looking for this attitude, it just revealed itself.
“Trustworthy leaders express gratitude for being asked to lead and acknowledge the responsibility that comes with it.” Amy Lyman
My first response to seeing honor on the list of trustworthy leaders revealed my assumptions. Amy reminded me leadership is a privilege; it’s an honor to participate.
I don’t like thinking of myself as arrogant but pride is a stealthy sneak. I’m thankful Amy challenged my assumptions. I’m thankful for the privilege and opportunity to lead.
I hope you’re great at honoring others. But, do you express the honor you feel to be a leader?
Part one of my interview with Amy Lyman: The Secret to A Great Place to Work. It’s not about employees first or customers first.
Part three: How to Move Through Uncertainty to Opportunity. The opposite of uncertainty isn’t certainty, it’s opportunity.
Oh phooey Dan, I deserve this job, all these other schmucks… 🙂
It’s a very good point, and to be honest I often take this deeper and suspect many of your readers do to. I feel honoured to have the life I have, it’s a blessing, and it brings to me what I give to ‘it’. As a result of that honour I have the honour to lead, I know this inside but I don’t express it at work and need to think how to do that better.
Some thoughts about how we might honour:
• Loving your role
• Loving the company you work for
• Loving your future
• Being a relentless force of nature for those who work for/with you
A bind I sometimes experience is that in reflecting on that ‘honour’ at times you get stage fright and that is the least virtuous of all cycles. It is also the time you get payback from your staff and genuine reward from the company you keep.
And Dan I think that is what this blog does for a lot of people, and I’m grateful to you (you Blog whore!) for that.
You out did yourself on this comment. Thanks for the short list and insights.
You taught me that leaders who feel honored to serve as leaders, love their company… I’ll add they love the people, the vision, the mission… etc..
You refresh my thinking..
Croadie, love your last bullet point, killa!
Cheers Doc, i just employed one for the company – it was that ‘fire’ I couldn’t resist.. Richard
Great points today. It’s so easy to look at others and assume we know what motivates them.
Great leaders are those who never lose sight of the fact that to lead is an honor and a priviledge that is bestowed on us by others and that must be earned daily – the role of leader is one of responsibility to others – not to self.
Keep up the good work – YOU are making a difference.
I’m honored you stopped in.
I’ve resisted the assumption joke “ass u me” but couldn’t think of it when I read your comment.
I wish you continued success and thanks for the good word.
Dan, This is such a great series of insights–thank you!
What amazes me is that people have been doing business in some fashion or another for literally thousands of years, but it’s still “news” to many that simply being a good solid PERSON counts for much more than any amount of “hustle”, raw talent, or popularity.
Last night I saw an amazing example of a great leader through an exchange on Twitter. I participated in a Twitter Chat (#beonfire) and in the course of the conversation I began interacting directly with someone who was new to me.
A few minutes after the chat ended, the CEO of a company I greatly admire (which is highly successful and just raised a significant early funding round) popped in to tell me “I know this person and vouch for him”.
I was blown away for a few reasons: 1) that he took the time to do so late at night, 2) that he knows this person on the other side of the country, in a different industry, well enough to say that, and 3) that he bothered in the first place. When I complimented him, he said:
“I’m only as good as the amazing community of peeps who keep me stimulated and real”.
THAT, my friends, is a leader I’d follow to the ends of the earth.
Stories have power. Thanks for sharing yours. I love when those surprising things happen as a result of online activities.
Your thoughts remind we leadership is influence and we are stewards of our influence. The CEO you mentioned leveraged his influence for another.. what a beautiful thing.
I’m thankful you stopped in and added value to the conversation.
Best to you,
I liked Amy’s finding that honor revealed itself. After all, that’s the only way that any authentic virtue should be demonstrated, isn’t it? Through our consistent actions and decisions and not by our proclamations, but rather through the eyes of others who witness us living out our values.
I love that too Alexander. When Amy started telling me that this quality of seeing leadership as a privilege, an honor, just started showing up in the interviews, I thought how cool is that.
Thanks for stopping in… hope you come back soon.
Like the others I appreciate any time our assumptions are challenged. Our assumptions lead to consistent actions, and if misplaced or wrong, our actions are consistently wrong.
Here is a question I would ask…
If a person begins with the idea and heart of honor regarding their role within an organization and leading their portion of it… BUT frustration sets in and some of that dissipates over time, what should be the person’s response to regain this mindset? When does the person know they are ineffective in their current environment and it’s time to transition?
I’ve counseled with many, and walked through moments like this myself, where you believe in what you are doing but feel those around you have lost site of the bigger vision and things get stalled out. The reality is that in the journey there are both mountain tops and valleys. And as a leader we have to walk through both effectively (you can’t camp out on the mountain top).
How do you find ‘love of role’ again in that moment?
How do we regain the feeling and concept of honor when it becomes muddled?
You ask a powerful question regarding when it’s time to move on..
Should we endure hoping for future success or should we step aside to allow new leadership to step in…
I wish I had a great answer for you.
Sometimes feeling disconnected makes us feel ineffective. Is building connections a part of this thought process. Can new connections be built or old connections reinvigorated? Would it help if they were?
I don’t think discouragement is the reason to make a transition. Make the choice to move when you are feeling positive. Discouragement can fog our thinking.
Moving on also includes opportunity… is the current situation an opportunity? Are there other greater opportunities.
Do you have other thoughts?
I’m very thankful you stopped in to stir the conversation.
Best to you,
Thanks Dan. First I would want to emphatically agree with your comments on discouragement fogging our thinking. As a rule of thumb I have often encouraged people NOT to make decisions in the moment of heightened emotions or feeling. Our emotions are not always accurate and they can either fog or enrage our thought process.
Making the choice to move or transition when things are positive is a great lesson. If we leave or bail at a moment of hardship it leaves a question in us (and others) which sounds mysteriously like “what if…”
The balancing act here is important… You want to invest where you are and have influence. BUT you also don’t want to stand in the way of progress which can at times come through changing the guard (but not always).
Maybe the question becomes disconnect [I often find if I’m not getting to right answers it’s because I’m not asking the right questions]… why is a person disconnected? The answer may not lie in the organizational component, but a personal bent during that season.
What I have learned is to notice the flags, don’t push them away. If there is a need for change, start with yourself, don’t just wait and assume things will change (Dan’s post on change and getting stuck is excellent, 10 Strategies to Fix the Reason You’re Stuck), then begin to map out things beyond yourself… and make changes accordingly.
It’s both a personal and corporate journey to find that HONOR again… to continue the fight even when bloody and bruised. Regain perspective, find new questions, and get to the right answers.
When and if we become the victim and blame the system, the organization, or something/someone else – then we place our success also outside ourselves and the choices we make. This is a clear path to losing the honor Amy challenges us with… I think a path to finding personal success can start with finding honor in what we do and the way we do it. Thanks for sparking that thought today…
I love it when the conversation takes a blog post to new dimensions.
Your comment reveals a world of experience and insight. Thank you for sharing.
Your thoughts on not standing in the way of progress are the ones I have when I think about my leadership. Am I a bottle neck? Am I a road block.
People change. Organizations change. I’ve learned that I roadblock when I pull back and circle the wagons. On the other hand, when I open up and invite others in.. .including new leaders things move forward… (off topic a bit but I was thinking about it)
YOu have my respect,
PS — thanks for the shout out re: one of my posts.
Thought-provoking side care there, David, thanks for yet another perspective shift.
Because you certainly have counseled folks in this, probably do try to shift perspective or at least add an angle or two to help them. Your point about the flags or markers along the way is a great one.
Perhaps, though, if we begin to dwell on the markers too long or continue to look back at markers past, then we need someone/something to shift us to a forward perspective. It may also be that dwelling itself is a static preoccupation, feeling comfortably numb as the Floyd would say, which may feel superficially ‘safe’ or comfortable but is out of the flow of the organizational life. And being static easily turns into stagnation. How to awaken, therein lies the challenge. I suppose I could ask myself, if that perceived eddy pool or safe harbor has my name on it (because after all, it is all about me), if I am luxuriating or even wallowing in what I have done or what was, I am no longer honoring my role, the organization or the spirit that got me here. That is one mirror that makes for uncomfortable, but necessary viewing.
Am brand new to this blog and love it.
Thanks for sharing.
As I read through the thread of this conversation I could not help but point out that it is not always a disconnect and that sometimes you move on because you get clarity. You are grateful for what you have and are excited about the opportunities that beckon.
With great clarity also comes peace of mind and you control the decision as opposed to the decision controlling you.
Thanks for reading
Honor is a lot of thing besides honoring others: it also means that your word is your bond, that you’re a “standup guy” (gals can do that, too — it’s just an early twentieth-century term for someone who has principles and can be relied upon to “stand up” for them.
One of my leadership biggies is knowing where to make a stand: where is the I either won’t do that or I will resign place. Where is the place where the leader makes a stand not only for principle but also for people.
Those kinds of honor are crucial, too.
Your comment explodes the extent of the term honor.
Thanks for bringing yet another dimension to an interesting topic.
I’m always glad to see that you’ve stopped in..
I think there is difference between arrogant and pride. Arrogant fuels ego and pride fuels humility. Arrgoant seeks respect, pride deserves respect. When you are driven by pride, you are true leader because you are bowed by humility and honor. I think honoring others is important when they feel it. Simply honoring without feeling is like eating without taste. Honor is the core of leaders. They belive in honor, believe in giving honor to others. But there is dark side of it. When they are hurt with their honor, they feel bad.
Assumptions are propellers as long as we nurture them. Simply assumptions without direction is sucker. It sucks energy and sooner or later , it actually exposes you. So, realistic assumption with actions make the leaders reliable and trustworty.
It’s always a pleasure to check the comments and find you waiting for me here. Thank you.
I’ve just started using the terms proud and pride in the positive way you suggest.
“I’m proud” is filled with gratitude, honor, joy, enthusiasm, passion, and yes humility. Healthy pride says I’m part of a team. I can’t function independently. I’m proud to be part of a supportive environment.
It took me years to see the difference between arrogance and healthy pride.
You have my best regards for all you do to serve others.
Awesome post. Thank you!
A good word is encouraging… thanks Chris
The last time I was a full-time church pastor, about ten years ago, I lived in a community in which many of the pastors, for one reason or another, would not officiate at funerals for those who were not members of their churches. I did so as often as I could when I was asked, and often people expressed their thanks and talked about how meaningful the service was. The only thing I ever felt comfortable saying, because it was the only thing that resonated deeply with me, was “It was an honor to be able to help you in this way.” I felt that then, and I feel it now.
When I see my leadership, my coaching, or my ministry as service, I am honored by the trust people give me. When I step out of that place of service, I run the risk of thinking that it’s mostly about me and my talents/brains/abilities and losing track of the enormous gift of trust that people are giving me.
I confess that I have a pet peeve here. I often hear leaders, especially candidates for a position, either political or business, say “I’m humbled by your trust.” They may feel humble because of the honor that people have given by bestowing their trust, but they are honored, not humbled, by that bestowal.
To receive the honor of others ought very well to incite humility in the recipient, but it is the true humility of servanthood that great leaders live out.
Striving for clarity,
What a powerful comment.
The connection between viewing leadership as serving others and honor is perfect. Once again the power of servant-leadership shines through.
Thank you for pressing for clarity.
You have my respect for your service to others and the LF community.
Such clarity! Thank you for that important point regarding “humble” versus “honor.” I have wrestled with that distinction for years because it’s never felt right in my gut. My integrity bells go off everytime I hear people talk about being humble. Now I know why! Your comment is the first time I’ve ever felt that “yes!” in my gut. You’ve actually stated what my heart has known to be true. Thank you so much. I now can stop wrestling with this and speak with clarity from the heart. You have given me the words.
Leadership is temporal, as is life, and somehow, with a very human wish to be remembered, maybe even to be ‘immortal’, some lose sight of the honor legacy (something given in will, trust). With the leadership honor comes obligation and accountability and transparency, etc… Very overwhelming when you really dig into it. And if you are not overwhelmed by that from time to time, then maybe you aren’t honoring it.
(Pithy, in a good way, blog today Dan-Marshall M, George B.S, Amy L, P. Floyd and the usual LF suspects!–still waiting for Greg and Al) Energizing!!
I’ve been lurking today, Doc, just soaking up all the good stuff that’s being posted. Lazy, I know.
Love the temporal component you add. It’s so true. We are all on borrowed time. Thats enough to sober me.
Feeling honor reinforces responsibility. One attitude brings about the other.
You always make me think. Today you are a bit more serious than usual. Thanks for spicing up the soup, as you always do.
Hats off to you for giving back to all of us and thanks for calling out that slacker Greg! 🙂
I feel better now Doc – i should feel overwhelmed from time to time, nice.
Dan, honor is a dangerous word to toss out in front of a military man, but you and your readers are doing it justice. Anyone who’s ever been sworn in as an officer in one of our uniformed branches knows just how much of an honor it is to lead. The Army is very overt with the message that you aren’t fit to lead until you’ve been through the crucible and proven that you can and will do justice to your soldiers.
I think civilian leadership is identical to military leadership in a key respect: When you lead, others have entrusted you with something very dear to them. You have control over their work day and their income-earning ability and in many cases their self-image and self-esteem — all of those things are connected to our jobs. That is an honor and should, as Jeanny notes, prompt humility in us.
How to express that? I don’t know that I’m successful, because the way we structure leadership gets in the way. I would like to continuously acknowledge the special skills and knowledge that people have that make them more valuable to the organization than I am, I would like to affirm every day the contributions they make to our success that are greater than mine, and I’d like to have them see that my job is simply to do what is necessary for them to be able to contribute. Their roles are primary; I’m an enabler. But you could ask all of my direct reports, and likely not more than a handful would affirm me in this. Something to work on.
Your military background always enhances the conversation, today is no exception.
Reading your comment drove home the point that feeling honored actually qualifies leaders to lead. All the skills we develop lack luster if we lose sight of the honor of leading.
Today’s conversation represents another aspect of the “leadership shift.” Leadership is about “them.” In this case the honor “they” bestow on their leaders.
I’m totally loving this blogging thing and you are one of the reasons I enjoy it so much.
I’m honored you stopped in today.
This topic really has me thinking. I have expressed to those above me who have given me the opportunity to lead how honored I feel to have been given that opportunity. However, I don’t believe that I have ever expressed to those that allow me to lead them, how honored I am that they have let me be their leader. I have shown appreciation of their contributions and encouraged their growth but I am not sure I have let them know what an honor it is to lead such a great group of people.
Now that I know I should do it, I’m not sure how. This is going to require some additional thought.
Bonnie, I think that one way to express that is to first of all acknowledge others in ways that let them know that you really see them for who they are and what they bring: “Wow, Sue. I want to acknowledge the courage and determination you showed in doing xyz. It’s an honor to work with you.” or “Jack, the way you handled that situation really shows both the compassion and professionalism you bring to this work. It’s an honor to work with you.”
Something like that communicates volumes.
Jeanny, I do see what you are saying. Since I say the first part frequently, I am afraid that adding the “It’s an honor to work with you” part will seem out of place and maybe not sincere. We currently have a management member who starts conversation like that and then turns it around to take credit for people’s training and abilities. I don’t want to be seen like him. Thank you for your suggestion, I need to think a little about how to tweak it for my situation so that I don’t appear to be showing his false humility.
Bonnie, props for being attuned to the undertones that the member of the management group was projecting. People will/do see thru that quickly. And yep, distance from his style of self aggrandizing wording would be important. It has to be you, fit you. Good that you are already recognizing folks efforts too….sometimes KISS comes to mind…keep it simple. Recognize the specific effort (be very specific too), and maybe…’thanks for being here’…or ‘thanks for being part of the team.’
Thanks for your comment. I’m frequently sobered by the comments and questions I receive.
There’s only one thing worse than having people not pay attention to what you say… thats having them pay attention. Well, maybe it’s not worse but it feels dangerous.
Feeling entitled to lead destroys the honor of being a leader.
Recognizing the importance of others shows you feel the honor they give you when they serve.
Understanding your power shows you feel the honor of leading.
Knowing where you fit in…
Asking for help …
Knowing and acknowledging limitation …
(These ideas are from Lyman’s book the Trustworthy Leader)
Your comment challenges me. Thank you for your great spirit.
Gotcha, Bonnie. I agree that it can be a tricky thing. There’s a way of showing up authentically, though, that can help something like that land with the resonance and truth you intend. You’re right. It’s something each person has to find her or his way into.
Jeanny, you are right. I need to trust my staff; that they know me and know my real humility in letting them know what an honor it is serve them. If I have built the trust I beleive I have, I shouldn’t over think my approach but believe that they will see the and understand my intent in saying what needs to be said. Thanks, again for your help.
You would benefit from reading Lynne Truss’ little book: Eats, Shoots & Leaves, (New York: Gotham Books, 2003), particularly the chapter on commas, pp. 68-102.