“Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first” – Aunt Elle
Aunt Elle is the most unforgettable character in “It’s Not About You- A Little Story About What Matters Most In Business” by Bob Burg & John David Mann.
Aunt Elle has many valuable lessons to teach Ben as he navigates his way through an attempted takeover of a failing company. Ben has his mind on how he will keep his job, pay his mortgage & explain things to his boss if they “go south”.
This is a powerful story of how Ben learns that servant leadership, not trying to “convince others” is what counts. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read this book because it’s lessons are so deep. It’s been many years since a book caused tears for me. Link to post…
This book is not only about business success, but “life success”.
Chapter headings include:
- Hold The Vision
- Build Your People
- Do The Work
- Stand For Something
- Share The Mantle
It’s a quick easy read with so much depth! It’s one of those I’ll read over & over for the rest of my life.
— “www.mylifevantage.com/AdelineTerry,” Adeline Terry, September 21, 2012
Showing those you lead that you care about them is not only compassionate, but also sound business.
Organizational research shows the results of doing so are increased productivity, profits, workforce engagement and trust, said Marie Miyashiro, author of “The Empathy Factor.” Tips from her and others to reach your people.
• Set the tone. “Connect with an individual at a human level before beginning work,” suggested Miyashiro, founder of Elucity Network, a consulting firm in Tucson, Ariz. Whether on a phone call or in a meeting, “take a few minutes to hear what’s going on for them in the moment and then share what’s going on for you. It’s simple wisdom that we often forget to do. This is what a leader does.”
• Find common ground. People are likelier to hear what you have to say when you do. Miyashiro says this leads to more efficient conversations, leading to productivity.
• Draw the bigger picture. Leaders should help the team connect to a shared life-affirming purpose, Miyashiro told IBD: “Every service or product meets human needs. If you keep people connected to this overarching mission, they (will likelier) become self-motivated.”
• Stand for something. Character shines through and the ability to influence others is raised when you do this, says Bob Burg, who with John David Mann wrote “It’s Not About You.”
Burg cites the example of John Allison, former CEO of BB&T (BBT), which stands for Branch Banking & Trust. As Allison built the bank into one of the most profitable ones in the country, he refused to be taken in by the subprime loan craze and stuck with conventional mortgages.
“He knew that what the politicians and many of the other bankers were doing was wrong, and refused to go for the easy money when it went against his value-based principles,” Burg said. “The result was that not only was his bank left standing profitably in the middle of the meltdown, but he was hugely respected as well.”
• Hire character people. One easy way to get through to employees is to have ones who are receptive in the first place. George Anders, author of “The Rare Find,” says that while you can compromise on experience when hiring, don’t do so on character. “Dare to ask: ‘What can go right?’ It’s right to spend some time worrying about what can go wrong with a candidate, but we’re way too prone to fixate on flaws instead of opportunities,” he said. “Be alert to the hidden virtues, especially resilience, which is surprisingly valuable in almost any line of work.”
He added that plenty of top talent is available: “Organizations cheat themselves when they hunt too hard for perfect grades and resumes, ignoring the immense potential of people who have overcome some stumbles in life.”
• Grasp the upside. Anders says business is so competitive that a merely competent workforce isn’t enough. In fields like computer programming, sales, advertising and business strategy, top performers are as much as five to 10 times better at what they do than average ones are. If you can’t find and nurture those standouts, “your business won’t survive,” he said.
• Bring people along. You influence others by pulling, not pushing, Burg said: “Leaders and influencers are those who understand that the substance of influence is pull; gentle pull. This is a form of power as opposed to force.”
Whenever you achieve buy-in by employees, commitment comes with it.
Burg quotes leadership consultant Dondi Scumaci: “Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.”
Posted on December 19, 2011 at Investors.com and December 20, 2011 in Investor’s Business Daily.
— Michael Mink, Investor’s Business Daily, December 20, 2011
The title of It’s Not About You, by speaker-entrepreneur Bob Burg and journalist-entrepreneur John David Mann, sums up the message in this short fable. It’s a tale about an executive who is under pressure to make an acquisition work and has to learn to set aside his own urgent needs and understand the needs and feelings of the people in the company he is trying to take over. It’s feel-good stuff and obvious, except that we often fail to heed this advice. And it comes enmeshed in a reasonably dramatic story. Link to post…
— “Managing Books,” Harvey Schachter, November 15, 2011
I asked Bob Burg if he felt like a success; it’s a slippery topic that requires definition so we slipped back into how he defined it.
At first Bob talked goals. “On the most basic level, success could be achieving a tangible goal, but of course it goes much deeper than that.”
Then Bob quoted, Earl Nightingale, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Trajectory rather than arrival makes this definition more satisfying. Progress, also makes this definition slippery. We continued talking about success and ultimately landed on a definition Bob fully embraces.
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming,” John Wooden. Bob spoke of success as living up to potential. This definition is the slipperiest of all. So I asked Bob, “How are you doing with your potential?” He brought up Einstein.
“Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.” Bob said he didn’t think Einstein actually said the quote because it identifies success with only money.
Bob explained, “Reaching my potential is becoming a person of value.” So I asked, “How are you becoming a person of value?”
He talked to me about encouragement. His dad encouraged people; that’s what Bob wants to do. The obvious question, “How can we encourage?”
Burg’s six ways to encourage others:
- Envision their potential.
- Help them define and reach their goals.
- Communicate you believe in them, with an emphasis on communicating. It’s not enough to feel a thing, you must communicate it.
- Positive expectations without attachment.
- Highlight the good. Bob said, “My dad knew how to make others feel good about themselves.”
- Correct in ways that don’t create defensiveness. Correct with appreciation.
—Dan Rockwell, LeadershipFreak.wordpress.com
I’ve been lucky enough to be sent a copy of It’s Not About You – A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business, which is the new book by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
It’s a business parable, following fictional character Ben as he attempts to convince furniture makers Allen & Augustine to agree to a merger, and highlighting important lessons about leadership along the way.
I hadn’t read Burg and Mann’s first book, The Go-Giver, which also uses the parable format, but obviously it’s been a tried and trusted way of imparting wisdom and lessons since the Greeks. And Burg and Mann both have decades of experience in sales and business leadership – and also experience of each writing various previous books, including previous collaborations.
I’ve read through it twice now, and purely on a story level it’s enjoyable enough. The plot and characters are all to serve the ultimate purpose of the book so it would be unfair to judge it purely on a literary level, but I’ve certainly read worse works of pure fiction. It’s also a fairly quick read in terms of length and pacing – treating it purely as a story it’s a few hours at most to find out what happens.
But obviously the intention is to illustrate lessons about leadership and business, and to provoke you to think about them as they’re illustrated by the Yoda-like Aunt Elle. And the combination of real-world, out-of-the-boardroom examples work fairly well, along with the explicit summaries of the key lessons at the end of each chapter, which are justified in the fictional sense by Ben being given a blank book by his wife Melanie to store his knowledge. They’re also repeated at the end of the book.
But is It’s Not About You useful?
So obviously it’s enjoyable enough as a quick parable in leadership, but has it got useful lessons in it? The short answer is yes, and without spoiling anything, the title makes it fairly obvious that the lessons are about leadership, building businesses and most importantly how you can inspire, lead and interact with the other people in your company, rather than trampling over them.
With that in mind, it’s obviously in line with some other business authors, such as Seth Godin, and CEOs such as Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, who both give quotes on the dust jacket.
If you’ve read their books, there are still a couple of things that you might learn from It’s Not About You, but the main advantage is reframing the advice as a personal story, and the fact that it’s perhaps easier to stomach the lessons in how to act when they’re being told to someone else, and you’re not being taught at. I can certainly think of a few people who would probably prefer to read It’s Not About You than other business books, and they’d definitely get some valuable lessons from it. Essentially the value of the book is whether it transfers the lessons about leadership to you in a way which actually inspires you to change/act, and it’s definitely made me consider changing the way I do certain things already, so in that respect it’s well worth picking up a copy.
It’s out in the UK towards the end of November, in hardcover, e-book and audiobook formats, and you can pre-order from various retailers, including Amazon.
— Dan Thornton, TheWayoftheWeb.net, Nov. 5, 2011
Yes, I have been called a disciple of Bob Burg and co-author John David Mann ever since my friend Stuart Crawford first introduced me to Go-Givers Sell More. Just when we think they have co-authored an unbeatable (or non-repeatable) success, they come back and build upon the last with yet another masterpiece forcing me once again to be introspective.
Their writings have and keep me ever vigilant in regards to humility and so much more. In my last blog, I spoke about my dear friend Ed Shayler who recently passed away in his 90′s and was the most humble man I know and was a real inspiration in spite of the injustices he suffered. He was like an Emmett Fox – he walked the walk every day. Even having spent over 4 years in the Japanese work camps as a POW, here was a spiritual giant of character and integrity. His words to me years ago were that a humble man can never be humiliated. In this book, the authors capture that essence of how humility is so often mis-perceived as a weakness when it is indeed a veritable strength.
The title of this blog is a phrase I have heard uttered for years by my good friend William (Bill) Smalley of Route Five International. When I first saw the title I wondered if perhaps some collaboration had taken place amongst the authors and Bill. No, but so good to know that there are a few good men of character with a similar powerful message screaming quietly that it isn’t what you say but really what you do when no one is watching. Bob and John you articulated this so very well – thank you.
My grandfather back in the 60′s on the dock at our cottage on Lake Temagami taught me a couple of life’s best lessons. I must admit I forgot about them until years later. The first was,”the more I learn the less I know”. The second was about being a man of real character – a lesson I’m always reminded of thanks to another good friend in Scott Erb. He and Bob Fedirchuk are always talking about faith, taking the high road and always remaining grounded.
Wealth, my grandfather used to say should really be measured by how well you serve others because reciprocity will kick in without having to be pushed! I always remember his telling me how it was easier pull a rope rather than push…I had forgotten about this until reading the book. Thanks for the reminder Bob and John.
So it really isn’t about me “but” it’s all about you! In 1974, The Chief of Defense Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces wrote a paper on the importance of true leadership and how that looks as opposed to growing an organization of administrators. He saw then the shift taking place in business… big difference indeed. True leaders in business today are far from the norm.
So – It’s Not About You (by Bob Burg and John David Mann) is now Frank’s top book of the year. Granted, I only read 2 books a month “but”…
— Frank Allen, Humble-Warrior.com, October 30, 2011
John David Mann is interviewed by Coach Ron Tunick, September 22. Please be patient, he is introduced at about 28 minutes into the show. Click here for the interview.
Leadership — genuine, influential, effective leadership — is a subtle thing. It’s not something that readily reduces to a cookie-cutter recipe or paint-by-numbers formula. We all know that. That’s why there have been a thousand good books on leadership, and will be a thousand more. But for all we describe it and study it, it still seems elusive — which is why it so often surprises us when a truly great leader appears in our midst.
Why so elusive? In part, because great leadership is shot through with contradiction.
A great leader is selfless — and has a healthy ego. A great leader is by definition unitary, singular, unique — and somehow inspires thousands to emulate him or her. Great leaders have their heads in the clouds and their toes firmly in the dirt.
Here are five descriptions of what great leaders do, what we call “Five Keys to Legendary Leadership.” The first four are all essential — and are completely contradicted by the fifth. Yet somehow, the first four don’t seem to work without the fifth.
They are the four fingers and thumb of leadership.
Finger #1: Hold the Vision
Building a business takes skill, work, and capital resources. But those are details. More than anything else, building a business—really, building anything—is an act of faith. Because you’re creating something out of nothing. You are moving into the future on invisible wires, without a net.
It’s easy to say, “Hold a vision.” The hard part isn’t the vision. Anyone can come up with a vision. The hard part is the holding.
The single biggest challenge to any organization is the constant cloud of fear and doubt that swirls around the heads of the people involved. As a leader, your job is to hold fast to the big picture, to keep seeing in your mind’s eye, with crystal clarity, where it is you’re going—that place that right at this moment exists only in your mind’s eye. And to keep seeing that, even when nobody else does. Especially when nobody else does. Your people count on you to do this. It’s the biggest job you have.”
Finger #2: Build Your People
Time was, people in a business were often viewed as “workers,” as if, out of the entirety of a person’s being, that which was relevant to the business could be reduced to a single function. Not anymore. Increasingly we’ve come to realize that people are people, and every person in a business is a universe of talents, skills, and potential value. Good businesses look to hire competent employees. Great businesses hire people and then commit to bring out their latent greatness through continual investment.
Finger #3: Do the Work
Great leaders don’t expect anyone else to do anything they haven’t done themselves. They get dirt under their nails and mud on their boots. Abraham Lincoln knew law. He’d practiced it in freezing-cold, bare-floored small-town courtrooms. So did Gandhi. They both emancipated millions—but only because they knew the feel of the craft in their hands. Before he was a great general or the nation’s first (and arguably greatest) president, George Washington worked as a land surveyor. He knew the land he would later govern. As a boy, Sam Walton milked the family cow and sold the surplus milk to neighbors. Bill Gates spent thousands of hours as a teenager programming computers.
This is one of most great leaders’ greatest success secrets: whatever field they are in, whatever business empire they run, the chances are excellent they have done it at some point with their own hands, learning it nuts and bolts, from the ground up.
Finger #4: Stand for Something
Leadership is not something you can put on and take off, like a set of clothes. Your capacity to influence is not something you can rehearse, like a speech in a play. People, contrary to popular belief, are not fools. No matter what front you put on, they will read you, consciously or unconsciously—the you behind the words.
It’s not that what you say isn’t important. It is. That’s just not where the source of your power lies. What you have to give, you offer least of all through what you say; in greater part through what you do; but in greatest part through who you are.
Competence counts—but character matters more. If you want people to follow you, they need to trust that you know what you’re doing. But that’s the smaller part of it. Competence is simply the baseline, the thing that puts you in the game. Character, though, is a precious gem, and anyone who possesses it is worth a great deal to the world around him.
You can lead only as far as you grow.
Thumb: Pass the Mantle
So there you have it. Leaders hold a vision. Leaders care about their people. Leaders get their hands dirty and their boots muddy, do the work and make the tough decisions. And leaders stand for something.
It’s about all those things. But at the same time, it isn’t about any of those things. Because you can hold the biggest vision, care about all your people, do all the work, and stand for something until the end of days — and it’s still you, you, you.
Here is the heart of the contradiction that is great leadership: great leadership isn’t a place you arrive, it is a place into which you disappear.
Great parenting is not about the parent; great teaching is not about the teacher. And great leadership? Whatever it truly is, it’s not about you.
— LeadershipAndInfluencingBlog.com, September 23, 2011
John David Mann appeared on “iWatch Radio” in St. Louis on October 13, hosted by Brenda Fraser. Click here for the interview.
It’s been said that leaders are readers. I agree. Books provide us great insight into the experience and perspective of others. These are thoughts that we can use and apply to our own sphere of leadership in order to become better at what we do and how we do it.
Below are a few books that have come across my desk recently that I would encourage you to check out. I’m also including an article link from each author to a post that I think you’ll also find useful.
At the end of this post feel free to leave a comment and share one or two of the books that you are reading or that you would suggest for leaders.
— Jeremie Kubicek, JeremieKubicek.com, September 29, 2011