Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Notes from "the Dream Manager"

I spent the whole week reading the books, which Dan gave to me last week.

And I want to share some notes from "the Dream Manager" before reading that.the most powerful ideas are almost always the simple ones.

Machinery and computers are categorized as assets and people as liabilities.the right people are an organization's greatest asset.

A company's purpose is to become the-best-version-of-itself.

If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.

People are unique in that they have the ability to imagine a more abundant future, to hope for that future, and to take proactive steps to create that future. This is the process of proactive dreaming.

In many ways, we are our dreams. But people stop dreaming because they get caught up in the hustle and bustle of surviving. And once we stop dreaming, we start to lead lives of quiet desperation, and little by little the passion and energy begin to disappear from our lives.

I was reading a story the other day about Henry Ford giving some guests a tour of his factory and offices. As they passed one door, there was a man with his feet up on his desk and his eyes closed. The guests asked Mr.Ford why he didn't seem to mind that this man was sleeping on the job. Ford replied that he wasn't sleeping, he was dreaming. 'Doesn't that bother you?'they asked Ford. He replied,'No, He is just doing his job. You see, that man invented the six-cylinder motor and disc brakes. His job is to dream up things that my competitiors think are impossible.'

One of the first principles Simon taught me was that as a Dream Manager you always have to remember that every person has different dreams, and that you cannot force your dreams on another person. Think about how much damage is caused when parents try to force their dreams on their children, or when one spouse tries to force his or her dreams on the other.

Dreams bring us to life. Dreams animate us, and what dreams do for individuals, they also do for relationships……and companies. The pursuit of dreams creates passion, energy enthusiasm, and vitality.

"What I'm realizing is that we are all Dream Managers,"Lauren announced to the team. Lauren was Admiral's CFO and was one of those quiet and meticulous personalities. She continued,"If we really want to help people, we have a responsibility to help them identify and pursue their dreams. In that way, I'm a Dream manager for my husband, for my children, for my friends, for my colleagues here, and for people who just pass through my life.Not in the same way Sean is a Dream Manager, but every relationship improves when we are mindful of each other's dreams."

I didn't know it myself at the beginning, but there's a psychology to being a Dream Manager.You have to focus on encouraging people and giving people permission to pursue their dreams. You have to avoid judgment, and provide tools and accountability, but you can't take responsibility for them achieving their dreams.

The employee-employer money paradigm is a thing of the past. The modern employee is looking for things much more abstract than a simple pay raise. Sure, they want to be well compensated but they are conscious of lifestyle, work environment, and more than ever they want work that is engaging. So when I explain the program to other managers and business owners, their resistance is natural, because they are operating from the old paradigm that assumes that people come to work just to make money. To some extent it may be true, but in most cases, people don't come to work just to make money, and the more money they make, the less it becomes about the money.

Money is certainly a factor, and, for many, the biggest factor. Another factor is meaningful work,but most people don't have their sights set that high. Most employees aren't that ambitious. Many have simply given up on the possibility. For hundreds of years, the battles between employees and employers, between owners and workers, between unions and corporations have created an 'us versus them' mentality that is detrimental to the collaborative spirit of teamwork needed to succeed in business.

So what else,besides money and meaningful work?

Employees want to feel appreciated. Eighty-five percent of people who leave a job leave because of their relationship with their direct supervisor. And when you ask them about their relationship with their supervisor, they almost inevitably say that he or she didn't appreciate them or their contribution. The predominant concern of employees isn't money or benefits, and it's not hours. They want to feel appreciated.

You better believe it. The Dream Manager Program is living proof that Admiral cares about their employees. It is proof that we care about who they are and that we appreciate the contribution they make to our enterprise. Appreciation is the strongest currency in the corporate culture.

Our people are ordinary people, from different backgrounds, no doubt, and they have their struggles. But people need someone to help them articulate their dreams,someone to speak with openly about their dreams. It's simple stuff, but it really is powerful. I lie awake at night sometimes, thinking about my employees' dreams, and I get so excited for what's happening in their lives.

So to finish, let me just say this. We all have dreams. The earlier we start dreaming and the more mentors and friends we have who urge us on toward our dreams, the richer our lives become. In time, we learn to help others achieve their dreams, and so the cycle continues. Many of the people who work for Admiral come from a background of poverty.

What I have realized over the past three or four years is that poverty is not about money. The real poverty is the poverty of opportunities. At Admiral, we believe in dreams, and we give people the opportunity to live their dreams!We set out to solve a very specific problem and instead we discovered the essence of life. What's your dream, and why aren't you living it?

Most businesses fail because they have a few rainmakers and an army of administrative support. In any successful business, everybody has to be part of the sales force. When everybody sells, you're destined to succeed.

BusinessWeek reports that over the next ten years, 21 percent of top management and 24 percent of middle management positions across all functions, regions, and industries will become vacant. In the areas of unskilled labor, we all know that the statistics are much harsher and the shortages more drastic.

But make no mistake-dreams are the currency of the future. The greatest problems we will face in corporate America in the next twenty years all surround the area of human resources, in particular, talent and labor. Executives will ignore these challenges as their peril. CEOs have to become as dedicated to scouting nurturing, and acquiring talent as football coaches are. The future of any sporting franchise depends on the talent that takes the field. What makes you think your business is any different?

You can ignore people's dreams, but it will be at your peril. You are free to ignore your children's dreams, your spouse's dreams, your employees' dreams, your customers' dreams and your nation's dreams. But in each of these areas of life, you will pay an enormous priceif you do.

Dreams are invisible, but powerful. Think for a moment of electricity. You cannot see it, but it keeps everything going. Invisible, but powerful!If, for a moment, you doubt the power of electricity, consider what would happen if you stuck your finger into an electrical outlet. You would quickly be reminded of its power. Should you doubt that electricity keeps everything going, may I suggest that you turn off the electricity at your office tomorrow!I think you will find that little if anything gets done and that most of your employees will go home for the day.

So it is with dreams. They are invisible, but powerful. You cannot see them, but they keep everything going.

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