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Without This You are Just a Robot

January 7, 2014

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The newly appointed executive was invited to lunch with the chair of the board.

“Welcome to the rank of servant” said the chair. There was no smile on her face.

“What do you mean?” asked the executive.

“What do you think I mean?”

The executive paused. This is not what he expected. He’d imagined he was to be welcomed into the inner circle of the company’s leadership. He thought he’d be given some clues about how to deal with bad press, customer complaints, wayward employees, and above all financial analysts.

The chair remained silent, demanding an answer.

The executive remembered a talk he’d heard the chair give to an industry conference. Receiving a standing ovation, she’d explained her view of the true purpose of leadership - to help the team be great in achieving the vision.

The executive said “I understand. Being a leader is being a servant to our people.”

“Yes” replied the chair, “and what is the most important thing you can help them to master?”

Again the executive paused. He thought “So this is how it’s going to be. I’m here to learn the key issues according to the chair. That’s OK, she’s a great leader.”

“To master their work” he stated confidently.

“Wrong” she said with a deadly straight face. “You are to help them become attitudinally competent.”

Although he’d not heard that term before, the executive quickly deduced the meaning.

As if reading his mind the chair said “Yes. Attitudinally Competent means using one’s best attitudes for what’s happening, what has happened and what might happen, and not be stuck with habitual attitudes.”
“Without attitudinal competence, one is just a robot, acting out programmed responses. Very limiting and very dangerous. Without attitudinal competence we succumb to our fears, habits and ignorance, and they are the cause of all human dysfunction and error.”

The executive said “I see that makes sense.”

“Good” replied the chair, “how will you do it?”

The executive thought and replied “I know a person who is an acknowledged expert in the subject. I’ll speak with him and learn more about attitudinal competence and how to bring it to everyone. But I guess I need to start by being a good example of it myself.”

Now the chair smiled “Great, let’s eat.”

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