Monday, August 29, 2016

Interview: Dave Kirven

I have had the good fortune of working with, and learning from, great leaders during my career. One of the keys that has been evident to me is their ability to build great relationships and focus on bringing people and resources together to get results. Dave Kirven, business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 94 in Canton, has spent 32 years in the labor field, working to bring the community together by getting people and organizations to go outside of their comfort zones for the common good.

In addition to his responsibilities with Local 94, Dave is also president of the East Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council, which comprises 22 local trade union chapters, and is chairman of the Stark Carroll Oil & Gas Partnership, an alliance of local community and government groups that promotes understanding of the oil and gas industry.

Dave is a good friend and I am honored to feature him as one of our spotlight interviews this month. Here are his comments:

Heroes, coaches and mentors: My most significant hero was my sister Laura, who battled cancer for 20 years. I have also taken bits and pieces of learning from various union leaders and managers over my career.

Most significant “a-ha” or “wow” moments to this point:  I’d have to say the importance of my family, and the realization of how fast kids grow up. I’ve also learned the importance of not second-guessing myself and being professional and self-confident.

Greatest insights and experiences:  I am the first plumber in 35 years to sit in this chair and have the responsibility of being business manager for our union. So I’ve learned the importance of getting past stigmas and:
  1.) being more inclusive and learning how to treat people;
  2.) being more transparent; and
  3.) learning how to deal with people and getting more people involved.

Three key pearls of wisdom to share with young aspiring leaders:
  1.) Share your success.
  2.) Own your mistakes.
  3.) Nine out of 10 times if it feels good in your heart, it is probably the right thing to do.

The legacy that you want to leave: I want organizations to see the integrity of the work that we do.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Personal Accountability: The Difference Maker

Fifteen years ago, author John G. Miller summarized one of the greatest pitfalls to productivity in his book, “QBQ! The Question Behind the Question.”

The book remains popular in management circles today, because it summarizes the need for personal accountability. Miller says that when problems arise, instead of pointing fingers at others and playing the role of victim, we need to ask a simple question: What can I do to make a difference? It is only by looking for solutions, rather than laying blame, that we can best solve problems and be productive.

The concept of personal accountability is nothing new. It’s been the topic of countless books and articles over the years. Just Google “personal accountability” and see for yourself how many results come up.

But if it’s so widely talked and written about, why is it so difficult to practice? Perhaps it’s because of our human proclivity—and the fact that the idea is ingrained in us in today’s society—to play the victim role.

When problems arise, it’s too easy to try and shift the blame elsewhere. When things don’t work out for us, it’s because of factors that are out of our control. We point fingers and make excuses, and nothing is truly resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.

Miller is on target, then, when he suggests simply turning the equation around. Instead of looking elsewhere, look within. What can I do to make a difference? It’s a simple question, but the answer can have profound effects.

For one thing, it’s empowering. By taking responsibility for our actions, we take control of the results. In reality, that makes us more effective. Who wants to be victim of outside forces deciding our fate for us?

At the same time, when we practice personal accountability, it builds trust. Our colleagues know we’ve “got their back.” An atmosphere of trust is a productive atmosphere, and a productive atmosphere produces successful results.

Truly, personal accountability is a "difference maker" in business and in life. Imagine if everyone were to choose to act in an accountable manner, not only for their own actions, but for the overall welfare and benefit of the whole. We would have fewer problems, and more answers.

Are you asking the right question? What can you do to make a difference, today?

 Jim Ondrus pioneered the management concept of Leadership Transitioning. He is president of JA Ondrus, LLC, a Canton, Ohio executive coaching firm.