Just a reminder that the new intro to the podcast was produced by Tony Wolfe.
Stewart Emery shared a story with Dr. Misner recently about a billionaire CEO who used the same company cafeteria as the rest of the employees. Prospective buyers of the company wanted that to change if they bought the company. The CEO halted the negotiations that day.
Chapters have a choice about whether to be inclusive or exclusive. The more successful you are, the easier it is to be standoffish. A good power team might be tempted to be exclusive, but a GREAT power team will be inclusive and share its success.
Leaders within BNI should be approachable. When the members understand that the people on the leadership team care about their success, it creates a healthy culture. Leading from among makes us better leaders in our own businesses as well as in our chapters.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 295 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you, and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am doing great, and I am away this week at a retreat with my executive management team and the executive council of BNI. The executive management team who work for the company and the executive council are the top 7 countries for BNI. They re the countries that have the most chapters in them. We get together several times a year to talk about where the organization is going and improve it as much as possible.
I like to share that on the podcast so that you know the organization does a lot of planning and analysis. The key players of the organization do that regularly to keep BNI the largest and most successful networking organization in the world. So that is what I am doing this week.
That sounds great. So what do you have to share with us?
Before I go into today’s topic, I want to mention again that we have a new opening to BNIpodcast.com. It was done by a good friend and BNI member, Tony Wolfe. For people who would like to see Tony and what he does, you can go to tonywolfe.com. Tony did the voice recording. Tony is the man of a thousand voices, and to get more information, please go to tonywolfe.com. Tony, thank you so much. Your voiceover work is great, and I am proud to have you do our opening.
Today, I’ll talk about leading from among, not from above. I got this idea- today’s podcast is going to be a little more seminal, a little more strategic. I try give a lot of hands on very technique oriented things as much as possible. Today is more conceptual, but I think it is really important.
I have a good friend by the name of Stewart Emery. Stewart has written many books like Do You Matter?, which is a book about branding. There is another book called Success Meant to Last. I think Stewart is one of the brilliant minds of our time. He was responsible for the “priceless” series of commercials with MasterCard.
He was over at my house a few months ago. At breakfast, he told me about an interview. He was talking to my wife, his wife and me. It was one that he did with a really well-known billionaire in the computer industry. The billionaire shared an intriguing story with Stewart about an experience he had when the senior executives of the company, interested in purchasing the billionaire’s company, visited his office to discuss a possible purchase.
At lunch, the billionaire- I am not naming him by name, but it would be a name that most people would recognize, told the senior executives that he was negotiating with that he was going to take them to the executive dining room for lunch. They followed him to this dining room. It was really nice but not extravagant. Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the big surprise. The surprise was that the dining room was a buffet line. The billionaire walked up to the buffet line, picked up a tray and stood in line behind everyone else. The executives looked around the room as it filled up and they realized that it was not the executive dining room. It was the company dining room- and the boss stood in line with all the employees.
He spoke to everyone. People came up and said hi to him. No one was afraid to talk to him. When I heard Stewart tell this story, it struck me that this individual didn’t lead by being above them. He led by being among them. Stewart told me that the billionaire said that the management team who was talking to him about buying his company was surprised by the fact that he and all the executives ate with the employees.
One of them commented that this would have to change if they bought the company. For the boss, it was a test. This was not the kind of company that he wanted to sell his business to. When they said that, the negotiations ended that day.
I believe that companies have a choice. Let’s drill that down. I believe chapters have a choice. They can move toward exclusivity in their culture or they can strive to commit, honor and embrace inclusivity in their culture as business professionals. Within BNI, inclusivity means being there to help and support everyone else. Sometimes the more successful someone gets, the easier it is to be standoffish. When you are successful, it is easy to think you are the kind of the hill, that you are doing well, and if people want help, they have to come ask you.
I see that with power teams. Chapters with real successful power teams become kind of cliquish within the group. On the other hand, chapters with great power teams with symbiotic professions that are working real well tend to be inclusive, and will say to other power teams to visit their team and see what they are doing so they can take it back and share with their groups..
Sometimes I talk about exclusive as membership. You know, you want to be picky about who you bring in. That doesn’t apply here. What I am talking about is a group of business people who feel inclusive for those people who are a good fit in BNI. Just because you are the president doesn’t mean that you are a better member. You are one of the members there who happens to be leading at that point, and the more engaged you are in the process, the better.
Sometimes when people meet me, I am always surprised when people say–and I am happy to say that I hear it fairly regularly– that they are surprised that I am approachable. I find that interesting. I think they feel this way because sometimes we as leaders act in a way that people perceive as unapproachable. We act better than to other people.
I believe people should be surprised when a leader is unapproachable, not when they are approachable. They should be surprised when they are unapproachable. The problem is that we live in a world where success sometimes creates a sense of separation with both the organizational leaders and the others. I believe that one of the key things to embrace in a successful organization is the sense that in a business environment, the boss, owner or senior executive–in a BNI environment, the leadership team, the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer (they are called different titles in different countries–chapter director, membership coordinator, secretary-treasurer). The membership team, the visitor host, the education coordinator–all of these people leading the group should be truly approachable and there to help.
One of the core traditions of BNI is people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. When members understand that people on the leadership team care about their success, it creates a healthy culture that enables people to understand that these leaders are working among them not above them. IT’s a simple concept that I think we all can strive to improve. It makes us better leaders in a BNI chapter as well as in our own businesses.
That’s great advice. I like that.
I do, too, and it came from Stewart Emery. Stewart is a good friend. I have picked up some great ideas from him. He is a fellow member of the Transformational Leadership Council, which I am a founding member of. I have been there for almost ten years now. It’s a great organization. He always has wonderful ideas and I am sure he’ll have more in store over the years. That’s all for today.
That was great. Thank you so much. That’s it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.