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Monday, July 21, 2014

Yes, Sir! Or ... Tell It like It Is

Last “Saturday in the park” (Cantigny in Wheaton), “I think it was the [19th] of July.” Yes, it was. A time for “Rockin’ for the Troops.”

This annual event is sponsored by Operation Support Our Troops. Their mission, and yours, should you decide to accept it, “is to support the morale and wellbeing of American forces by providing comfort, resources, and education to them and their families both while they are deployed in harm’s way and after their return.” A noble cause by noble people. You can find out more at  

The concert I attended is an annual event filling the historic military park at Cantigny with around 12,000 people. This year, for the eighth time in nine years, Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band performed. A few other groups preceded Mr. CSI New York (Sinise) on stage: The SempletonsAudio Adrenaline (a Christian band), and The Voices, a group of Afro American men dressed in white tuxedos who did covers for songs by Al Green, The Temptations, The Stylistics, The Spinners, etc. Hot stuff. But the headliner was Sinise. Great show.

In between groups, various introductions were made of political figures, radio personalities (thank you), and even an Army parachute team landing midfield. A big band of Harley guys with military history also showed up. There were booths for food and merchandise and you could even sign up to join the Army on site! I passed on that opportunity this time.

The parachute boys work in precision, much like the military Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. Discipline and teamwork are critical in making sure this all happens correctly. It takes many drills and practices that require following directions and learning to say, “Yes, sir!” or “Yes, Ma’am!” That’s the military way.

Phil Fernandez, the CEO of Marketo, which sells marketing automation software, sees it differently. Here is one of his business maxims: “I can’t work with people who salute back. Everything’s a judgment call about what we’re doing. People who are assertive, mindful, and willful thrive with me. I try to be pretty explicit about what I need.” He has several other management preferences that are different than other successful people. Read for yourself.

That’s what is beautiful about leadership styles. They can work well in different ways depending on what’s most needed. The general manager of the company for which I work makes it known that he “tells it like it is” and prefers the direct approach. I appreciate that.

Followers of Jesus of Nazareth know quite well that Jesus spoke directly and indirectly. His parables left many people scratching their heads. Other times, he fired off comments many feel are rude, 
calling members of his audience a “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites.” (Read Matthew 23) Yes, that WOULD be telling it like it is!  

The business advice of “Christianese” we hear most often is, “Speak the truth…in love.” A paraphrase might be, “Chew me out, but do it nicely.” Actually, the counsel to speak truth with a loving heart IS good advice. The hearer of the message does not always receive it in the intended spirit. But it must be done.

Successful communication is a true art. Phil Fernandez and my boss like straight talk. Others hope you feel the love. As for me? I prefer those parables. They make staff meetings SO much more interesting. Like the one about the shrewd manager dude. Juicy? Yes, SIR!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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