Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Opinion as fact not accepted here

My friend, Kelly, always had a saying in graduate school that she'd repeat whenever someone in class decided to spout off their belief system to chew up class time and to hear themselves talk. She'd say something like, "why do people think it's okay to state opinion as fact?" Today at work I was reminded of that saying during my team meeting.

We were discussing some of the alignment issues our department has, not on our specific team but elsewhere in the organization. I think we might have all been getting a little too down on the structure of the business as a whole. 

One of the many things I love about my boss is that she has a great way of recognizing a negative attribute and then in the next breathe providing a unique positive that we hadn't considered. She's been at the company for a number of years in several different roles and one thing that she loves about the company is hearing the CEO speak. To quote her directly, "there is no CEO better to get you inspired about your business. In the world of CEOs, he is as good as it gets." Immediately I thought, "oh, he must be very good at keeping people's spirits up and encouraging them." My boss followed up her statement with, "it is fascinating to hear him speak because he speaks only about facts. He never gives a speech based on opinions. Ever."  

Now, I've heard a lot of speeches from leaders but my boss really got me thinking back to all the speeches I've ever heard. Some people throw a bunch of positive quotes and pretty pictures onto powerpoint slides and call that a motivational speech. They put up lists of books and websites they follow and reference and call themselves a resource. A lot of leaders do that. Many of them pace back and forth on the stage and say how much better they are than the competition, akin to cheerleaders. Most leaders do not base every speech in fact. Heck, some never base their speeches on fact. Now I find my new CEO even more remarkable, especially because our company, being in financial services, is under the microscope of every industry analyst, reporter, and rival. A tough climate to state just the facts, making my CEO's continued honesty all the more worthy of admiration.

For the last three weeks I've been standing tall when I tell people the company I work for. Now I know I can stand even taller, up on my tippy toes if necessary, because all of this pride I have in the company is not based on opinion or belief or a "feeling". It's based in fact, and that feels great.

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