Wisdom From My Corporate Days – Part 5

When fear is telling you, no, but your boss says he wants you to go…to the meeting.  


Invest in Your Team

Rewind back to 2003 when I was working super long hours on the BANK ONE/JP Morgan merger.

We were wrapping up the final pension plan pricing scenarios when, one day, out of the blue, the Client Relationship Manager for one of my main clients – BANK ONE – asked if I wanted to go with him to present the results.

“Who’s going to be at the meeting?” I asked.

“Oh ya know, just Jamie Dimon and the rest of the BANK ONE senior leadership.”


I remember being shocked and mostly nervous. 

I thought to myself, “Hmmm, maybe I can help you find somebody else to go with, and I can stay back and hold down the fort in case you need any real-time number crunching done during the meeting.  How’s that?”

At the time, I wasn’t quite sure why he didn’t choose someone else from the team who was way more experienced. 

But now I understand why.

Because he was an excellent leader and prioritized making long-term investments in his team.

He had a keen eye for spotting team members’ strengths and put them in positions to cultivate their strong suits.

And he didn’t just bring me to be a notetaker; he gave me a speaking part.  Yes, my stomach was in about 1000 knots, in case you’re wondering.

Did he take a risk?  Bringing a 20-something spunky female into a high-level meeting with influential execs?

Hell yeah.

But super strong, confident, authentic leaders like my boss are comfortable being audacious because they know who they are, and they’re fiercely committed to developing their staff. 

Strong leaders not only understand but demonstrate that for others to learn and grow, they need to be put into uncomfortable situations that stretch them in new ways.

The meeting went well, and I was relieved to have my first big meeting in the books.

BANK ONE headquarters was just a few blocks stroll from our office in the Chicago loop.  And on the way back, my boss gave me some super candid feedback- some things I did well and some ideas for improvement.

Take a moment to ask yourself if you’re investing in your team.  If not, what’s getting in the way of that?  Are there any internal blocks, such as issues with delegation?  (I see that a lot).  The more you invest in your team, the more you’ll be freed up for the strategic and creative things that promote long-term growth.

Delivering Feedback

I worked with leaders who weren’t shy about delivering real-time feedback.  Feedback wasn’t limited only to formal semiannual reviews;  it was part of our culture.

One day, I was invited to a conference call and was given a speaking part.  (Pleeeeease relax on giving me speaking parts already, would ya?!)

I still remember him saying right after we ended the call… “Pam, no need to keep saying the word “basically” – just directly address the topic.”  I mean, I was trying to make the concepts feel understandable, but yeah, he was totally right – I overused the word (I was nervous as hell, I might add!).

And feedback didn’t only flow downward through the org chart.  We were also invited and encouraged to deliver upward feedback, reviewing senior levels of the organization.  They took it so seriously that senior-level leaders made time on the spot to meet with junior staff when any changes were announced that caused some concern and uncertainty.  We always felt seen and heard.

Getting comfortable with delivering feedback is essential.  Based on my experience, most people are uncomfortable giving feedback, particularly if it’s constructive.

There are several tricks of the trade that make it a more welcome experience on both sides, including stating your intent for why you’re bringing it up, being curious, and asking where they may be struggling or need more guidance.  Showing up with an open, curious, service-minded heart sets the tone for “us working through the issue together” rather than us working against each other.

All the while, though, remember to hold yourself and others to high standards.

I’d love to hear what’s resonating with you so far.  Click here and tell me.

Stay tuned for my next article, where I share a story about being your authentic self, lifestyle, and share some of my favorite corporate cliches, just for fun.