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Transformational Leadership

You Need a Shadow!

Joe Farcht asked:

I’m going to keep you in suspense for a couple of paragraphs but what you’ll learn could change your life.

United Services Automobile Association is a company serving predominantly military customers and their families. BusinessWeek has heralded them as the No. 1 company providing the best customer service in the nation. That rank is above the Ritz-Carlton Co. which ranks 11th.

In a recent newspaper article, Bill Putnam, the Senior Vice President for Financial Services for the USAA Phoenix operation and retired Navy rear admiral, said that he values spending time with his employees. Every Monday he greets newly hired individuals seeking to let him know if there is anything that USAA can do better. He says that he spends a good chunk of each day just walking the halls and connecting to people, finding out about problems, and helping to solve them.

But listen to this! Putnam emphasizes communication, and he even seeks feedback from three unnamed employees at the Phoenix center who provide insights on the workplace mood and his own performance. “Their job is to watch me – how I walk around, communicate, and interact,” Putnam says.

Does this sound like a leader who really wants to walk-his-talk?

Now you know. Your shadow is the person or persons you look to for honest feedback about how you are performing in both your work and life.

Do you do what you say? Are you living up to the words you speak? Are you behaving in ways that reflect who you really are?

Is your attitude and behavior in line with company values and expectations? Is your model of living at home the model you want others to adopt and live up to?

In the past, I have encouraged everyone to ask for feedback because most people, including supervisors, will not initiate providing the feedback you need to grow, change, and learn. It is time to step up a notch and ask a close friend who you can trust to become the person who watches you – how you walk around, communicate, and interact.

Enlist a friend who will provide you with specific meaningful feedback so you can change your attitudes, behaviors, and life for the better. A true friend will help you in this way.

Remember to gratefully and continually thank that friend for the love that they are demonstrating in helping you become a better human being. Now it is your turn. Take action on this message and transform your life!

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