Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Whole New Perspective

I spent about 12 years at MCI and I can't begin to communicate how much that experience meant to me. I had a series of interesting, intelligent, and insightful bosses. Linda McCarthy, Jim DeMerlis, Ernie Lederer, Jerry Hogan, Jerry Adamic, and a few others. I also met some of the most insightful people that I could imagine. Ellie Ryan, Darryl Shaw, Michael Druhan, Art Giannopoulos, Ellie Luce, Mike Shaw and Bruce Brinick taught me a lot about people. Bruce was especially insightful. He seemed to be able to peer into a person's soul and see exactly what made them tick. These people were all smarter than me, and all helped make me smarter in the process.

While I continued to get results, I began to see a different side of being a manager and a leader. Ernie began talking to me about the importance of finding quality, talented people. Sometimes he would ask me to interview someone, but couldn't tell me what job they would be filling. I found that confusing. How could I interview someone if I didn't know what job they would fill, or what skills they needed? This wasn't about skill, Ernie insisted. It was about talent. Ernie found and hired talented people whenever he could. The job he insisted, would appear later.

Without going into depth I will tell you that many of the people he hired had tremendous success inside and outside of MCI. And not just personal success. They built successful teams of talented, motivated people. They understood that success, real success, was bigger than a single person.

Under Ernie's direction (and the direction of MCI in general) we began working to develop our people. We put together Personal Development Plans for our employees that took into account not only their skills, but their desires, their talents, and their dreams as well. MCI believed that if they could help their employees achieve their dreams, they would help MCI achieve theirs as well.

Meanwhile, my bosses continued to give me feedback. After a presentation they would talk to me about what went well, and what could have gone better. They pointed out where I had hooked my audience and where the audience was left wanting. As projects completed, we sat down together to discuss what had gone well and what we wanted to do differently the next time. These sessions never involved "blame," but focused on what we could learn from each experience.

Quite frankly, the atmosphere around me was electric. Everyone wanted to do more. Everyone wanted to succeed. And everyone wanted the company to succeed as well. As we worked on projects, we would often discuss not just what we needed, but what the company needed as well. I watched organizational leaders put aside their personal goals to focus on what the company needed.

Never before had I witnessed so many people working so many hours without complaint. Never before had I watched so many talented people actively helping each other to succeed. And never before had I seen a company so vested in their employees' success.

And it only got better.

Till next time....

Dave Meyer

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