“You Gotta Cover Your Ass”

…. that is the advice I saw a grizzled vet pass on to a new employee over lunch on his first day in the office, “You gotta cover your ass in this job!”. My first thought was “I’m glad they don’t work at my credit union.”. My second was what terrible advice to provide to such a young new employee …

Now to be clear, I typically don’t spend my lunches eavesdropping on conversations of other patrons, but the seat next to this unknown couple was the only one left open in the dining area and neither of these fellows was trying to be discreet. So they have become Kofacts fodder.

Many years ago I had the great fortune of going to a Disney Institute Training Seminar on Disney’s Keys to Excellence. I had a healthy respect for all things Disney prior to the training, but only as much as was appropriate for a man my age. After the class was an entirely different story. The business leader in me, was then and continues to be in love with Disney, the business processes, and the innovation behind their company. Just ask my team how often I bring them up as an example.

As a part of that training they discussed the need to actively tend to the culture of a company and witnessed to the power of sharing stories which reinforce the values of the company. They offered as an example Walt Disney’s (the legend himself) habit of walking through the park and picking up small pieces of trash off the ground and putting them in trash cans. One day a supervisor came over to him and said “Mr Disney, please you don’t need to do that, we have custodians and janitors to do that work, you are the CEO you have more important work to do”. As the story goes “Uncle Walt” gave the young leader a dressing down and advised him that it was “All of our jobs to make the park clean for our guests” and no one has more important work to do than that.

Even today this story is shared with every new Disney employee in their Traditions Class and clearly sets the example for them. Just last year, I had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes tour of Walt Disneyland in California. And as Mike, our Disney tour guide, was taking us through the park, he would without breaking a stride or stopping his speech bend down and pick up every piece of trash he saw; 50 years after Walt’s example. That is the power of sharing stories in action.

Now I contrast that with the “You’ve got to cover your ass” guy. And challenge you to think about what stories you are sharing with your team. Are you passing on your burdens as this guy was at lunch or challenging them to rise up and achieve their best?

Business Leadership

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