Creating a positive culture and a winning team

I’m a big fan of David Maister’s approach to creating a successful professional services company. Effective leadership is an essential ingredient to his approach.

Real leadership is earned, not bestowed as an byproduct of one’s position in an organization. Many managers have discovered that the technical skills that have propelled them into management are not the skills they need to be successful as leaders.  People vote with their feet every day, especially in an organization that is staffed by knowledge workers with highly valuable expertise and skills. If these people don’t have confidence in the leadership of the company they work at, if they don’t trust them or like them, they can easily take their talent elsewhere.

That’s why today is a happy day for me. Today I was able to recognize one of those true leaders people choose to follow, who inspires loyalty and encourages people to excel.

As I try to walk the talk myself, I thought I’d share with you the email that I sent out earlier today announcing the promotion of one of my colleagues, Keelan Green. I hope that it conveys the right signals to the people with whom I work about what is important and what is valued in our organization.

You’ve probably noticed that the Ottawa office has been on a real roll during the past year. We’ve added some great new consultants (you know who you are!!!), done great work for clients who not only continued to place their trust in us but also provided positive referrals to other clients, and won additional business through straight-ahead competitions. Equally important, the sound of laughter and the sight of smiles is a regular part of the work day.

Every person working in Ottawa has made a real contribution to this success. And I thank you for this.

Today, I want to recognize the particular contribution of Keelan Green. Keelan has been our leader in many ways for the past two years. He leads us literally in being the first person in the office most days. He leads us in showing how to use our work time effectively to get results for clients. As a colleague, I know that Keelan can always be counted on to pitch in when I or someone else needs help. And when the chips are down, he won’t give up until we’ve achieved what we set out to do.

Keelan can also be counted on to show us how to maintain a good balance in our lives (because it’s not only about work.) He taught us that summer Thursdays are for golf. And beware the person who tries to cut into that time!

But most important, we know that Keelan always cares. He cares about our company, the people who work here and making sure that together we are successful. Because if we are successful we can all realize our dreams.

So, I am absolutely delighted to recognize Keelan’s achievements and place in our company by promoting him to General Manager of our Ottawa office. (sound of applause, whistling, foot stomping)

This is not an end, but the beginning of an even more exciting year that lies ahead. In the coming days, Keelan will be working with both the Thornley Fallis Communications and 76design teams to lay out plans to continue to excel in each of our practice areas while also exploring the potential synergies that can be realized by combining our different areas of expertise. I know that he’ll be talking to each of us about the opportunities for us individually to grow and contribute to our collective success.

Congratulations Keelan! It’s your time.

* Thanks to Hugh McLeod for the great drawing. Always a source of inspiration.