John McDermott And The Evolution of Courage
“John McDermott has no idea how courageous he is. He’s an extraordinarily personable and approachable leader, the head of Global Sales and Marketing for Rockwell Automation, and most of the time he uses his relationship and influencing skills to get people working together and moving in the right direction. It’s his preferred approach to leadership, and it works really well for him. It’s a particularly appropriate management style because his team is spread out all over the world, and consists primarily of very senior salespeople. They’re used to running their own show – John is most often thousands of miles away, at Rockwell’s headquarters in Milwaukee. They’re a strong-minded, autonomous bunch, and they appreciate and respond well to John’s collaborative approach and easy-going manner.
But when the situation requires it, I’ve also seen John make tough decisions with limited information, decisions that require him to do things that are personally uncomfortable for him. These behaviors are core to our definition of courage.”
— From Chapter Five of Leading So People Will Follow
John and I have been working together for the past five years. Of all the executives I coach, John is among the most serious about his own growth. In fact, the leadership attribute for which John is now an exemplar – Courage – was a growth area for John when we first started working together. It’s been great watching him over these years, strengthen his ability to make tough calls with limited information or in the face of adversity, and to have difficult but necessary conversations with people.
I thought it would be both useful and inspiring to you to know that John, and the other leaders in the book, didn’t necessarily start out their careers having these attributes in place. Just the other day, I was doing an email interview for the book, and the interviewer asked me if these attributes were “inborn, or could be developed.” Based on my experience supporting leaders over the past twenty years, these attributes are highly developable.
Here’s what’s required to develop these attributes: honest self-reflection, openness to learning, and the willingness to create new habits. John McDermott has all three in abundance and will, I’m sure, keep evolving as a a truly followable leader .