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4 Lessons You Can Learn From My Death – I Found That Hill

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One of my most popular chapters in my book where I described an army experience that ended with us running up a hill, seemingly, to our death. It was a terrible experience of being wet & cold and sore & miserable, yet exhilarating because of having to dig deep and lead my team up

Up

UP

Into the unknown

Success on the top of that hill meant leaping off of the edge of the cliff and into thin air. I jumped that day, jumped into the unknown because I trusted my leaders, had faith in myself and didn’t want to let down my team. I did not die on that hill and we all succeeded.

Read the Blog version of that story here

Many years later I did find the proverbial hill on which I would die. A hill piled high with loss of trust, being let down and letting others down by an organization I worked for, loved, and took great personal value from.

No organization is perfect and I had seen examples of what I felt were less than ethical behaviour. But, my boss and the organization’s structure insulated me and as it did not directly impact my small part of the world I chose that I would not die on that hill.

Unethical behaviour is insidious.

Over time it eventually oozed into my world and began to impact my conduct. What once insulated me was gone. A new boss and a series of organizational changes brought me more and more in contact with conduct that did not sit well with me. That hill I could once ignore grew into a mountain in front of me and began to directly impact my team and me.

We were facing a large organizational change, the goals of which I agreed: but how it was being done was upsetting. I caught those leading the changes in unethical & unprofessional behaviour, was asked not speak of these transgressions and was told to fully support these same people.

I began to believe that I could not trust the organization and as insidiousness of the situation grew, so did the feeling that this was the hill on which I would die.

Read my blog about Moral Courage Here

In full disclosure, my temper demonstrated itself more than once and my conduct was not always as professional as I hoped. But I did what was required of me and transitioned my people to their new supervisors.

As much as I loved my team and the organization, my personal situation was untenable and I was failing the organization’s mission. I chose to manage my demise by negotiating an exit and finishing up my work with as much style and class as I could muster.

What did I learn from this?

  1. Tweet: Know your ‘best before date’ – Like all relationships there is a time to call it a day.Know your ‘best before date’ Like all relationships there is a time to call it a day. To be honest my best before date had passed and I should have left months earlier.

 

 

  1. Tweet: Past behaviour is 100% predictive of future conduct – A system that allowed unethical conduct will allow and support unethical conductPast behaviour is 100% predictive of future conduct – A system that allowed and supported unethical conduct will allow and support unethical conduct

 

 

  1. Tweet: You are not that important – put your arm into a bucket of water and pull it out and then he asked how long did the hole last? You are not that important – An old boss once told me that to put your arm into a bucket of water and pull it out and then he asked how long did the hole last? I knew that I wasn’t integral to anything and my replacement would come along and do a good job.

 

  1. Care about your people, but look after yourself – You, your dignity, health and family are paramount. Hire a good labour lawyer, talk to your spouse and get good counsel because organizations are big, large and can purposely or inadvertently crush one person.

 Click here to get free PDF copy of Steve’s book You Can’t Lead From Behind: What I learned in combat about leadership, people, and profit

 
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