I was talking with a co-worker Brett Clark recently about some books we had on our bookshelf at Zirous. There were quite a few of the book It’s Not About You. He mentioned that a while back our management team had given one to all the team members at Zirous. I thought I would take one home and read through it. It’s Not About You, A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business is the books full title. It is from Bob Burg and John David Mann of The Go-Giver fame. I had been told to read The Go-Giver from quite a few people so I thought this is probably a good book too.
The story is about Ben who is out to climb the corporate ladder and is in merger and acquisitions. He is sent out to get the high-quality chair manufacture Allen & Augustine to agree to be bought by his firm. Ben is giving a notebook by his significant other. He uses this notebook to write his manifesto on leadership. Through his many encounters with people at Allen & Augustine as well as people he encounters in the town he begins to lay out his keys to leadership. Almost everyday he has lunch with an old friend who is joined by an older lady who as the story goes on we are revealed to us her importance in the story.
The 5 Keys to Leadership
- Hold the Vision
- Build your People
- Do the Work
- Stand for Something
- Share the Mantle
Ben discovers these key’s to leadership in his discussion’s with various key players. “Hold the Vision” is the first Key Ben discovers while eating lunch with someone he thought was friends aunt. They are talking about Ben’s meeting with Allen one of the company’s co-founders. He is the company visionary. She teaches him about influence, while reviewing Allen’s work. She said, “Pull is the substance of influence. Not push.” Ben was trying to understand how he could convince the employees of Allen & Augustine to accept the offer from Marden Group.
Augustine one of the company founders teaches our main character about how to “Build your People“. Augustine is a “lead by example” guy. He knows how to do each job and Ben is amazed at what he does in the course of the day. There is little dialogue but many lessons. This passage reminds me of the “Go to the Gemba” expression in lean manufacturing. Leaders must go to where the action is.
Next Ben visits with Frank, the VP of Production. Frank puts Ben to work right away unloading a truck of lumber. Frank helps Ben understand that we must get dirty to lead and “Do the Work” with everyone else. You have to know the job but also do the job.
Ben moves on to speak with Karen the next day. She is the VP of Finance and Personnel. He has to go to the hospital to meet her. One of the employees went into labor and Karen was there for her. Next they go to Oncology to meet another co-workers grandmother. Through these tense situations Ben and Karen have some conversations about caring for your employees. Ben ends up staying with the dying grandmother. He learns how he needs to “Stand for Something” and show his true character.
Ben must give a speech to sway the many shareholders of Allen & Augustine to approve the purchase by Marden group. He inadvertly learns his final lesson of “Share the Mantle” while giving his speech and what comes next. I don’t want to spoil it for you but I think you would like the ending.