Copyright 2021 John Alex i Piotr Jankowski
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Hi! I am John Alex, experienced in coaching, but this is my first ever blog article as a writer.
I really hope this story will help you and I very hope you will not get to sleep while reading. That's why I am going to be very blunt and very open on Piotr, who allowed me to put his life like it was, but all for your benefit I guess!
The purpose of this Story is to get you to:
- learn who Piotr was and is
- understand personality transformations are possible
- understand how "the past" can have influence on "the present"
- learn how a leader transforms with honest & blunt introspection about self
It is a long story, if you are ambitious and eager on Piotr's background, continue reading.
If not, press this Link > to directly scroll to the Core of the Transformation section.
The 80's of Poland. Pabianice. Medium sized city in Łódź district. Newly built, ugly blocks of flats where majority of the demographic-peak youth grown up playing on the construction sites (more flats...). Total of 48 square meters of an apartment where whole family lived. Piotr occupies 6 sqm which had to include 2 bikes inside the room. Tight, but ok when his first PC (IBM, greyscale graphic card Hercules, DOS, floppy disks drive and so on) appeared early 90's. This made the room more purposeful:) Piotr played games (Prince of Persia, Digger, Wolfenstein 3D:) - but also did programming in Turbo Pascal and Basic, first mini games and english test programs with music playing, wow that must have been something:) It is when his love began to IT and DIGITAL
Piotr spent time with mainly older folks outside on the streets, playing war games with sticks pretending guns or playing football or basketball, biking. Very ambitious to equal up the level of physicality to older guys, so often ended up with knees bruised and torn. Each day after each game while proving the value, once even had his forearm broken when as a goalie stopped a too powerful shot of a much older friend.
Still, all was fine and a joyful life, except the ears... Piotr's ears were already of Piotr-adult size and they called him names. Nothing serious, but he was to proud to accept his shortcomings. He ran away, sometimes fought physically, but as he explains - this was the only thing that kept him unhappy, made him not able to really keep his head up and built confidence. Small issue, big thing for a kid. Moreover, parents were raising him to a really well behaved young man (really thankful as it pays off today, he recons), but at that moment of childhood - comparing to today's kids getting brought up - this was a bit overwhelming and closing down: "you are not supposed to behave like this", "be nice to him/her", "say hello", "say thank you", "say good night", "you are not supposed to do this/that", "dont cry"... all this Piotr remembered as firm borders of what is allowed and what is not allowed, what befits and what doesn't. In certain situations this was definitely blocking, when kindness wasn't the solution. Made Piotr flight, rather than face it. Because of proud nature, each flight was impacting his emotions negatively.
School? He was in the best 2-3 students in class, graduated 8th class with honours, "red stripe" every year (certificate with red stripe = graduation with honors in Poland, when average of all marks was higher than 4,75)... but never a plodder. Learning came simply very easy to him, any class, any subject. He did homework in 7 mins 40 seconds or before the classes next day...
At the same time, the social part - so important for Piotr - has been cherished by sticking to the naughtiest in class and they liked each other, truly. He says he liked the naugthiest more to those overmannerly kind or silent. And those naughtiest liked Piotr back a lot as well. I think it was due to Piotr's honest and transparent nature... Oh, maybe also for all the tests, mainly on maths: happened that Piotr "wrote" 4 or 5 of them during a day giving out to those less mathematically talented saving their humanistic souls.
Once Piotr almost did not get the "red stripe" due to "behavior" mark rated "improper", the lowest behavior mark with the all other grades score average of 5,3. That was Piotr proving what never happened before... I remember the physical education teacher, without asking, was lobbying to the history teacher, the master-tutor, to change the mark... She did not like Piotr, vice versa:) Every history class, although he got 4 or 5 grade in the end, he has been asked to step outside of the classroom due to his picky comments... Nothing impolite, but just clever remarks, she did not like them.
Sports was important. Piotr was representing school in light athletics (running short and long distances) and in basketball and football teams. This was very liberating, Skills mattered, not the ears size;)
What would Piotr remember from childhood? Flats, construction sites, paper-wrapped ice-cream, lemonade in plastic bags with a straw, football on a concrete court, drinking water directly from water hydrants after games... and shy, oh how shy and inconfident Piotr was... but one thing from school he got till today is to avoid being mediocre - it's been always meaningless for him, no point going somewhere and not doing it 100%. He loved high tests scores, pleased him every time. Not the learning process itself for the sake of learning, but the result he got.
Who was Piotr: shy, not self-confident at all, overly polite, significant complexes and personal reservations, "flight", avoiding confrontations
But: Knowing exactly what is right or wrong, doing the best he could and doing it 100% of effort every time, any task; loving sports and competition as a non-verbal way of communication and I guess routing attention away from appearance to something he could better win with.
Red Berets Scouts
Still, while in primary school, class 7th and 8th. Aged 13-14. Great adventure. 13th Red Berets Scout Team - "Szarża" was the name (translation-> "Charge", like a cavalry charge). Not such a regular scout team, as Szarża was created by adults with no kids in the team (maybe some), the core of the Team were grown up teenagers and adults. Red Berets, the parachuters inspired activities. They visited military units, did zip-wiring, bridge climbing, bridge-river landings, really long walks and runs (Piotr remembers a 16hr, 50+km walks they did between camps while on holiday camp), Bieszczady trips with 30+km trips with fully equipped backpacks, which where 30kg of weight... Each.
And the quality people Piotr did meet there... all this was amazing and gave a lot of meaning to his youth, to life... Everyone in the Team and other friend-teams Piotr will always remember. Including the first "grown-up" love and first kiss to a 2-year older girl, teammate in Szarża.
But all this was not enough, Piotr described one evening when they were talking long after the day about what would each of them do in future, dreams, plans, what they were good at. Worth mentioning, at that time Piotr started growing in height very quickly. On his turn, Piotr was describing that in dreams he was considering to start basketball training really professionally, how sport is liberating and how sport is giving a different dimension to his life. He remembers all of them scout friends jumped on him and firmly, but with all open hearts, urged him to go and sign up. And he did. Which resulted in having to resign scouting. But made him happy. They all had a big impact on this decision, and I know this makes Piotr really thankful to all of them.
Who was Piotr: still shy, but improving, still not self-confident at all, still significant complexes and personal reservations, "flight", avoiding confrontations, but scouting made him progress this by the nature of the scouting-movement - you had to fight more "to survive"
But: What he loved and what has cemented Piotr's core values was the purity and indisputability of the values, of the "right and wrong". Moreover, hiking with a 30-40kg backpacks over mountains for 20-30 kilometers would teach anyone not to stop, otherwise what others would say about you, that you were too weak?:)
Sports / Basketball
Now we'ra talking... Piotr described what he remembers from day 1, when he first appeared on his first training day. Aged 14. He came to the training court, while the whole team was already waiting for the court to open, dressed up, waiting in a long corridor, both sides. And they looked at him with hope, a tall guy joining. Tall guy with stress and butterflies in stomach walking...although Piotr did not remember any bad looks. Really nice, warm welcome! He loved it all, since this corridor entry. BASKET WABS was the Team name. WABS formed from the initials of Coach and his family. Then the Club has been created, year 1999, hence the club name: Pabianicki Basketball Club 99 (PKK99). Piotr became the Chairman of the Board of that Club for a period of time...
The Coach (Mr W - I do not think you might read this, but thanks for what you have done to Piotr!) asked Piotr how old was he - 14 was the answer. He hissed, late start he said... "Go change and I want to test you with the others". 2hrs later, after the training was over, the coach took him to the lockers room and summarized: your physical qualities (jumping, running) and the character/mental qualities (fighting, not giving up) I rate as pretty strong. But your basketball technique is shit (why would this be any different, he never trained it before...?). He asked with emotions Piotr: "Why haven't you come to me years earlier???!!!"... Yes, Piotr did regret that as one of a few things in life, not having started basketball earlier, to maybe succeed a bit more in this sport...
This part of life - the basketball - gets from late primary school through high school, studies and to adult life while already working. 13 years of everyday training + a weekend game, home or away. Really everything in the evenings, each day and every day including the weekends contributed to training and The Game. Maybe this was just and only the 3rd Division Łódź League or just the Poland's University League he played, for amateurs, but Piotr was taking it really seriously, even though the NBA dream was gradually fading away... every day, everything was done as a pro, 120% of effort and dedication.
I will spare you details on what it exactly was each day, but very quickly while doing sports and being pretty good at it, gaining players' and coach's respect, usually the starting 5 of the squad for each game, what it has done to Piotr? Totally shifted and rebuilt his self-confidencd to a new maximum and born a brand new fighting spirit. Piotr stopped being afraid and no longer "flight". Nothing is impossible, we will win whatever the score is now, he will get every ball like it's his own... Including the physical abuse on court was never left without a revenge from him. The darker part of sport, maybe... but was totally refreshing and positive, no harm done to anyone, but just showing and proving who was the strongest, physically but most importantly - mentally.
4 times right ankle twisted, 5 times left ankle twisted, dead tooth no.1, broken nose, twisted fingers. Piotr describes a game in Lublin, University League, against pro-players of 1st Division who happened to be students in University of Lublin and got to the University League game. Piotr got too much of self-confidence fighting with much better and stronger players, with revenge being the elbow into his face. This was the dead tooth #1 and 5 stiches on the upper lip. No botox needed anymore to Piotr's upper lip;)
I guess the period of basketball has been the core change of Piotr. Was the crucial foundation for who he really is today, with both the shining or the darker side of his personality, will summarize this in the end.
Who was Piotr: new level of self-confidence, still a bit shy, but lost complexes and built higher self esteem, "flight" changed into "fight", loving confrontations and competing.
One of the leaders of each team he played, on the spotlight, starting 5s, physically changed by improved body building - all gave a lot of confidence. Really tough trainings or sport camps built something more than just a basketball skill, it had built self-esteem and an enormous will-power of execution and of winning. Not arrogance, but a very helpful feeling of "I can achieve it all only if I want to" is with Piotr till today.
Highschool was a big change. School in Łódź. Private (social) high school with a half of a regular number of students per class, elitary for that time being as for Łódź and as for Poland, affordable fee. Piotr is really grateful to Parents for this step and contribution they made to his education. Comparing to years of primary school in a smaller city, this was a step-change showing Piotr "The World". Contrary to what is the usual opinion about private schools, at least in Poland, these 4 years have been really demanding from educational point of view, but also from each-day-travel perspective (bus), finally because of the new friends, so different to those from the primary school. But Piotr and majority of the class still meet and still keep in touch and support each other, friendships remained.
This tought Piotr what a different life was, showed him how richer, successful people live and behave, got his English skills there with an FCE Certificate and got top marks as well.
Yes, again he was writing tests or giving out homework to others, especially science classes. But he continued to contribute to the "social life of class" always. I guess this gave him lots of fun and balance. Fulfilling own ambitions, parents expectations, but also having fun and remain 'human" to others.
Interestingly, before joining that school, he never had top-brand boots, top-brand t-shirts or hoodies... to be honest, before this school Piotr never cared for any brand, his outfit was decent, but totally ordinary, cheap. No criticism to my parents, but living a humble life of past communistic Polish Peoples Republic, they would not even care or know if it mattered.
International Faculty of Engineering, years 1999-2004. Specialty: Business and Technology. Great decision Piotr made, although had to choose between the University of Łódź of IT and Econometry, where he also applied and got accepted. He chose the Tech Uni and the International Faculty of Engineering.
Was tough for 2 reasons: education and party. Got the two aspects well balanced, loved business and IT side of it, loved the party and friends and the results he got, again graduated with honors on his Master Thesis final exam.
What a great 5 years this was, he says. Great people and friends. Most importantly the IFE office, with the Tutor of the Year - dr Małgorzata (Dr M - you are the best what IFE had and we had the best what we could ever have as Studies thanks to you!). They made it incredible. They made it elitary to the point where a Student was the center of attention. If student wasn't paid attention or professor misbehaved - the professor got fired or moved elsewhere, out of IFE at least. What this made to Piotr and all of his friends there, it was building a great level of respect and expectations to future life. Was tough, but it was a pleasure.
Worth mentioning that they have organized 3 times (year 2, 3 and 4) 3-4 days workshops outside of Uni, at the forest/lake with a Tutor joining. 2 times Maths Workshops and a Trade-Law Workshop. The purpose was team-building, educating the class in a different environment to Uni walls... and party of course. There is a movie Piotr made, documentary of the last one:) Still very popular movie amongst participants;)
Who was Piotr: already self-confident, not so shy anymore, with a new level of self esteem and respect. The respect expected and respect provided, And life expectations: achieve it all I want.
During year 3 (2002), all IFE students had a chance for Erasmus Scholarship, a 6 or 12 months study period abroad sponsored by the EU. Piotr and his friend at that time chose Universitat de Barcelona for 6 months.
Yeeeesss... These 6 months were like they would teleport you to another life and then after the 6 months they would teleport you back.
It was really hard to study in Barcelona, because all that global community of students who met there were so socializing-hungry... and Barcelona started discos or parties really late, 2am the earliest and those did not even end with a sunrise, but continued till 6am or so... how to study, when you go to bed at 7 am? But they made it. Some compromises and spanish-language-led classes and spanish-language conducted tests were passed successfully, while the whole Barcelona-Lifetime was a non forgettable experience. Visca el Barca!
The Ovieja Negra (Black Sheep) Pub with beer and Sangria, La Teraza open air disco, Otto Zutz, Razzmatazz, The Chupitos Bars, the Monjuic, Las Ramblas, The Dancing Fountain, the FC Barcelona matches they attended regularly 100 EUR per game, Park Guell - Gaudi's garden... Trips to Girona to meet other student friends, some from Łódź as well, Figueres with Salvatore Dali museum,
All this, as a different life, all supported and sponsored by parents, was very liberating. I remember living, partying and studying there as freedom, needed for me so much - why? I will explain below in the Parents chapter.
Really loving and lovable. Piotr really misses them, I guess they were a special family of a really close relations, really open to each other, talking about everything... Both Parents passed away too early, aged 69, to cancer. Same cancer, same disease, 18 months time span between deaths.
Family fighted for the cure, but nothing much could be done even through best doctors they were able to find in different cities. Even though there were so many firends helping and Piotr made new friends while helping.
On this supervision, worth noting couple of facts. As parents of young Piotr, Mum was much too overprotective and overwhelming. Result was Piotr was unable to stay without Mom on holiday camps alone, cried, had to be taken back. I know this was a topic of quarels between Piotr's parents. Again, basketball was the cure to Piotr, but never mind, this is about parents.
Mom always was so caring and took so much to her heart, that it hurted her physically I think. She could not tolerate someone would tell her she does something wrong. Oh no... Worst was when Piotr did that. This caused her to think he did not love her. And Piotr's picky and difficult character he had + the philosophic nature caused the discussions turning into Mom's tears. Unintentionally, but of course made Piotr guilty and had to apologize. Quite often.
I think this was making Piotr shy and inconfident.
Later, Piotr became a fighter, while Mom was so delicate and ultra-sensitive, delicate soul, when serious issue appeared on the table, they could not find same language to it. But she loved Piotr with a Big Heart and so did he, differently to how she expected I guess.
Father was quite different. Great brain, a mathematician, a director, a drummer, a pro bridge player.
He had 2 personalities, the one focused on a job (his or Piotr's), on things-to-be-done - when he was determined, focused, sometimes shouting, fighting, getting it under command&conquer. And the other, which was the relaxed personality turning him into a really nice, easy-going, funny, joking, "let's have a beer together", wanting to travel, see the world - of course with Mom and myself.
In the first mode, you'd better not challenge him, as he would really rage through his opinion. Truth was he was often right. When Piotr was young, shy and inconfident, this made him cry and flight. Later, when self-confidence built up, this caused significant arguments and Mom needed to step in regularly. I guess with Piotr maturing up, they had more of "big boys fight", trying to secure the area of command at home.
But Father was a really good person, with just a specific personality, very rigid on rules and obeyedance. People respected him for wisdom and for the fact he would help anyone in need with all he got. He was just difficult, sometimes...
When I look at Piotr, I think he had inherited from his Mother a subtle sensitivity to people, animals, plants being hurt (Piotr can barely kill a fly, he thinks about the fly like about World's creature who equally wants to live with it's different priorities), great empathy to feel and think what others would feel, beyond humans which clearly is to respect the world and all Its elements..
From the Father he is surely results driven and proud, expecting a lot but giving a lot equally. Still, on the darker side I could see Piotr authoritary and overbearing in many situations. From the core, a leader that needs and wants to lead regardless of the circumstances.
At the same time, parents have been giving Piotr a lot of free hand with time, to decide, to live, to make mistakes, to go out till very late. When adult but still living at their home and studying - to stay outside and not come back for nights... Piotr is thankful, even though the rules were rigid through years, they have been adapted gradually to feel he was trusted and treated maturely.
Anyways, Piotr's Parents were great people, great personalities he really loved. And what must be said, which is indisputable truth and which Piotr felt everyday: all they did, all what they were aiming to achieve, was to make Piotr's life better. And indeed he had what he needed and wanted. Not in a spoilt-kid manner. But they would refrain from X for themselves if Piotr needed Y. Anytime.
Ultimately, what a sad and unfair end: his Mom got sick 1 day before he turned 40. Passed away 20 days after. After losing both parents, Piotr learnt it was not own age that makes you adult or mature. It is the experience. And the experience of having to live without parents, where you are a parent yourself as well, is the ultimate step to being "adult". There is no longer someone more mature in the family you can lean on. All eyes on you...
The Wife. Leo. Woman of Piotr's life. Not just wife or a woman. The best friend. Companion for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Elegant dinner parties or pubs. Churches or discos. 5 star hotels or a camper van in the forest.
There is no controversy in this part of the story, it is just to say how I understand. Understand that success of anyone has to be supported by someone else. If you have someone you love and who loves you, like Piotr loves Leo and she loves him back, when she listens to his successes or his sorrows, his wins or his pains, listens and supports, hugs or cheers up, then nothing really bad can happen.
Without Leo Piotr would not be who he is, he would not be able to change and would not be able to do jobs he did over long years.
Leo is an example to Piotr in may areas: sports physio knowledge, optimism, "taking things easy" and smiling to life and to pains. She is everything to Piotr.
Having such a geat friend in the person of Wife when we turn head into business is invaluable. With such support, you are set to win. So important to remember about all those great wives and husbands that make success of their beloved reality, from the backseat.
I guess Piotr has many friends and allies (facebook says it is over 550... :), with only little number of foes. But only a few real friends. Nobody's fault. Long years of corporate life, or startup work before the corporate, before that - the basketball... but most importantly, this was always quality journey for Piotr, not the quantity trip and he really means it! Besides, when you work your ass off every day, want to spend quality time with family, including a wider family, how many real friends you can really have... not a 100 for sure. I doubt if 10 would also be doable. I mean real friends.
So Piotr has a few, Leo is one of them and the special one of course. She is a definition to a quote from Simon Sinek, who's remarks I love to read and embrace into life:
"Good friends make us better people. They cheer us on when we hit bottom and keep us humble when we reach the top."
Source: Simon Sinek/LinkedIn
But all of friends Piotr has, he is really thankful for, as they have accepted him as he is and for everything they supported him with. Piotr is also there when they need him. Dot.
Piotr lost some friends as well. Not that they went away. He has chosen to close the friendships. This was Piotr "the fighter", today he would reconsider for sure. But when Piotr was younger, but already self-confident, any harm done needed a revenge.
There is a nasty story - the situation was, Piotr got attacked by bad guys in front of the basketball court, probably one of the fans was in love to Leo (Leo played basketball professionally and played really well while being a great looking girl!). Anyways, the attackers were many, Piotr was with friends and when it happened only one of those friends started evacuating Piotr out to his own car and we drove away. Of course they went straight to Police Station to call it out. Then the investigation started and 2 witnesses were sought. The other friend told Piotr he cannot witness the attack to Police, because the fans could turn this against his girlfriend, also a basketball player at that time.
Of course situation could be understandable to me today. But with Piotr at the time, with emotions, it meant a betrayal. So Piotr asked him to also not witness (as a best man) his wedding... and it's how they split lives for good.
I am sure Piotr would behave differently today, but this was young, immature times...
I think in the past he was expecting more he was giving. Today he is not expecting much, but trying to give a bit more from himself.
What we will focus on here today is a big, global digital services company, where Piotr used to work for over 9 past years.
I would not go through Piotr's CV, if interested go and see LinkedIn Profile, all is there:) https://www.linkedin.com/in/pijankowski/
The journey started in 2011, where Piotr joined the global company after 7 years of experience is both Senior Roles and own startup leadership. The backpack of experience included the Production Director role in a Spanish Company, the interdisciplinary Business Development role in pharmamarketing working directly with and to the Board and an IT startup company for over 3,5 years.
WIth this experience Piotr joined the global corporate world as a Team Manager, then after over 1 year transitioned to a Senior Role of Operations Manager with multiple accounts leadership including sales, pre-sales, operations, team leadership and senior stakeholder management/customer-facing relations, reporting directly to the Centre Head and Board Member, where the Centre was roughly 500 people at that time.
Within next year, Piotr invited himself to a chance of upgrading the portfolio of services that Poland as a Unit has been delivering to Customers and kicked off from scratch a business division of Remote Infrastructure Department. So far, the Centre has been mainly 1st level Customer service in IT with use of languages. The Infrastructure Department was shifting the focus and opening a new services portfolio to manage IT infrastructures on a 3rd ITIL level, which includes matrix management of: Servers, Databases, Networks, Cloud, Virtualization, Enterprise Software, Security on all layers including: Hardware, Firmware, Operating Systems, Middle-layer, Hardware Application layer, Software/OS Imaging/Packaging etc. and building up the services seniority throug Administration, Run/Operation, Designing, Testing and Architecting for Customers.
It became a really broad and fast growing Unit, which Piotr had opportunity to co-create with great passionate of young and experienced group of engineers.
Through a success of the above, Piotr was getting more visibility and more opportunities to work globally, while the Global Organization Boss decided to launch recruitment for the Poland's Centre Head (Managing Director) in 2015, when the Centre was getting to 1000 employees and accelerating growth.
Again, Piotr was lucky enough to be given this role after a set of interviews against all internal and external, more experienced candidates and led the Company in Poland to 2'500 employees growth, which has been a fantastic journey.
In between, there were a triple-role holding for Piotr, now included a combo of both local and global roles: Head of Digital Research&Development Global Hub + Head of Industry Services Global Hub, both with an aim to create global community of practice and vertical specialization of all Global Centres within those two specialties.
Finally, Piotr was asked to form a group of international leaders to decide jointly where was the best place to grow business beyond current locations. External consultant firm + 3 top leaders of 3 global delivery centers and they have decided it would be Katowice. Another success for Poland to grow in dual-city system. Łódź + Katowice. Piotr formed a project team of dedicated people, multidisciplinary and here we are in 2 cities, best building in Katowice (.KTW), great partnerships formed locally and super leader hired for Location Head role. Success, success, success... all in parallel to leading and growing the Centre from 1000 to 2500 employees.
Now, to the bottom of the personality transformation and leadership. Through years, Piotr's leadership was basing more on leading the group/team/project himself. He was the face of this. He was holding the banner standing out in front of everyone and leading. The leadership style was a mix of empathy, but mainly firm expectations, strong support, strong organization and usually command&conquer style when it comes to decision-making. Which was perfectly working in situations of inexperienced team, where people had to learn or when participants of a project were "all-eyes-on-Piotr" and expected him to lead the way as a natural, formal and informal representative, as it was "easier" for everybody.
All that - to the point in time - has been both satisfying Piotr and has been successful in his corporate journey.
To the point in time...
Somewhere in time, Piotr has realized the scale of the Business no longer allows 1 person to lead with a banner in front, leading 2000 or 2500 people alone in 6-7 different departments each serving miltiple industries of tailored solutions in 2 different cities. So he put strong efforts and gradual attempts to share accountability (not just task or area responsibilities) across the team. But the process he put was too fast, sometimes with little trust and sometimes with too stiff boundaries he created. And maybe some people in the team did not want that or did not want the accountability at all. Or were not ready.
Because of that, there were changes in the Team and a series of multi-meeting team training with team building activities, after one of them the Master Trainer commented to Piotr, that she observes the team playing "psychological games" and that she observes "a leader wanting to share accountability while the team somehow is resilient to it".
Piotr knew and felt that... he never stopped wanting the team to "fly" and succeed, while he was moving to the side to a supportive role. He loved that Team, but at the same time he did understand (with no criticism to anyone) that they are as a group or as individuals not yet ready to accept what he wanted them to accept or what was necessary for them to accept, so he kept balancing between satisfying their growth needs but still striving - with full load on his shoulders - towards the committed results needed to be achieved across the board. Confusing, but he cared mostly about the results and committments he made.
As a side but important note - thanks Mr D and Mr B, Piotr's two bosses locally and globally for everything they have given to Piotr, the opportunities and your support. Piotr was lucky to have you on the journey;)
The GOLD Program - insights 1
In between of all that above, there comes help and support. Piotr got nominated by the Big Boss (Mr B) and got accepted to an elitary GOLD Program, which included just 30 selected and recruited Top Senior Global Leaders of the Future to prepare them to new set of higher roles.
Through a really intimate group and individual sessions, describing life (like I did to you above), the group of peers and the coaches have highlighted to all of them many important things.
For Piotr, the feedback was:
- Please slow down, you are overworked and running too fast. With that pace you are a step from burn-out and your team might be impacted.
- Take care of you private life more, not just family... but you, yourself. What have you been dreaming of, but never started?
This is how Piotr became a tennis player and a guitar player, which were the best decisions and life-savers for him in the totally busy period of time.
There was also one additional thing, when they discussed TRUST. Piotr learnt that, if there is no or little trust within the team, there is 99-100% of blame on the leader. Cruel, but that's it. Nothing to discuss more, although Piotr was getting frustrated with how the team talks to each other, between themselves, how resilient to accountability they were, he understood that cracks appearing in the team was ultimately his fault and his legacy of his style...
The Business Coach - insights 2
Piotr had some business coaches through his career which is - I can tell you as I am John Alex - always very helpful and needed for everyone on a managerial position. And I know Piotr is very grateful to organizations for sponsoring that to his benefit and his growth.
Coaching is like a responsive mirror, it helps a leader to talk to an objective person who posseses that certain skill and techniques. At best, if the coach has experience in business on similar role to support coaching with a mentoring when needed.
The best coach Piotr had ultimately met was the last one - Mr. T (hope you are reading this Mr. T) who has very quickly accelerated all that was going on around Piotr and inside Piotr's head. Through a 9 months process of intense work.
What has been done?
"Conversation Zero" to meet and gain mutual trust between Coach and Piotr, Goals set by Piotr to himself for the process, goals set by Piotr's Boss, Goals aligned and contract "signed" in a three-way conversation - facilitated by the Coach, every 3-4 weeks meetings to review progress after each meeting, team meeting witnessing by the Coach, summary and closure.
What has been achieved?
Very quickly in that process and thanks to a very skillful Coach, Piotr - taking the GOLD Program coaching into action as well - understood he needs and wants to change pretty drastically. But not to pretend. Rather to finally stop pretending, stop playing a mythical leader. Coach discovered that Piotr is really different when relaxed (resonates to Piotr's Father?), to Piotr in: business, action, stress, targets, KPIs... Piotr quickly understood, it is simple and easy to become true-self. That self who is really llike-able, one does not need to be a super-robot every day/hour/minute.. but I guess this is what the corporate life got him to, how he was brought up, living up to abnormal efforts he could adapt to, but this was really damaging him as a human being...
To achieve that, Coach has predicted that change, although coming naturally, will create mistrust in the Team. So that Piotr needs to communicate what happens and why to the Team, so was done.
As in life, some believed, some did not... anyways, this did not change the reality, because those who believed - which is the majority - were really celebrating with Piotr how the dynamics changed and the Team started achieving in the new way. Piotr could finally step aside to support the new born leaders in their "infinite mindset game" (by Simon Sinek - great theory!) and accountabilities landed to people fully.
Great experience, going through has changed how Piotr looked at things: results, people, teams, the business. He is really grateful to whole Team and the Company for making this happen, and so I am - John Alex.
This is also when Piotr has decided to move on, rebuilt his personal and business life and definitely learn and grow new. As I am sure all those experiences Piotr gained can and will help others, which Piotr will be striving to start in the shortest future through business coaching, leadership and life mentoring working with individuals and teams.
The Mistakes and the Lessons Learnt
You might quickly ask, why is Piotr no longer in the Company, if all that was a success?
That I will leave to me and to Piotr and to Company, it is as always a pretty personal thing and the job contracts you sign are not for the lifetime:) sometimes a success means starting something different or new, correct? But the Company was great - as people around the World, the HQ and in Poland. Piotr was always really positive, including when leaving the Company - with his head high and with no bridges burnt behind. All moved on to their next levels for everyone.
If interested, please read this as a testimony of a leader leaving a company: Farewell from Piotr...
With hundreds of comments and 25k views of the farewell. It really mattered to Piotr how people warmly accepted his legacy in the company he devoted 9 hard years of achievement and growth.
Back to the subject - what were the mistakes Piotr understood and took a lesson from? Maybe some will resonate with you, maybe some are obvious to you, but maybe some will be new to you.
1. Mistake number one. Are you sure you are ok for those commitments you boss wants to apply onto you? Is your team ready for them? Maybe you should negotiate? Don't look only up, try to look up and down on your hierarchy and see the compromise.
You have own ambitions, your boss has too, but team has its own pace and set of potential for the level you or Company decided to hire!
If you can run sprint to Mount Everest and it is the company strategy, so you feel a perfect fit yourself - hang on, you are a leader of junior scouts you have recruited, right? Then how do you want to run up the Mount Everest with them? Or will you get frustrated you obviously told them how to run and breathe, how to control your heartbeat, but the morons still cannot do what you are telling them? Yes, been there... Not anymore.
2. Derivative from point 1. Get the best team you can afford to have to make commitments you want or need to take (from Jack Welch, R.I.P., "Winning")
Simple. Get the team of Mount Everest runners if you can afford them and here you go. Then you would not have to run even yourself as they would only ask you to help them getting ready and chosing the right path... they would happily take the banner and put there alone.
3. Derivative from point 2. Don't fall in love with the team, if you are the big boss. This might impact your decision-making.
If you feel someone is underperforming, reconcile this with that person. Hopefully will respond to feedback and improve. But ultimately, if you feel someone has to go, has to go.
Does not matter if you promoted someone 5 times and he or she should be grateful. They aren't. They think they deserved it and earned it. And might think in time you are wrong and they are better. Or that you are weak...
Equally, if you feel, if your instinct tells you someone is important, even though 5 other team members would tell you this person is useless, don't listen blindly. There might be a hidden agenda. Don;t let go of people you personally trust. They are your supporters in the team, maybe fix the issue differently?
4. Derivative from point 3. Staying aside in support does not mean stop leading. Should I keep asking about how is program going or will this be read like I am controlling my DRs? If I stay at the side, nothing really depends on me, so how do I lead?
Many questions like this, require a proper balance and strengthening your authority, especially when you are not the executor. You need to bring something else no one else is able to. Still give something to the team, like a super-strong relation of a senior stakeholder, which will make the journey easy to you team, for example. Easy to say.... Important to keeping the contact with all what is happening and maintaining an internal Customer position to Team... I would not recommend to give 100% out of the world to the team in 360 degrees, then might lose it.... Requires a skill.
And to remember: strong does not mean unpleasant. Impactful does not mean "not nice".
5. Know, learn yourself. I have shown you Piotr's personality in a before state in a lengthy description for a reason... Many psychologists would say: each of us has to understand ourselves, through having a transparent talk to ourselves, observing ourselves from distance, understanding how, where we grown up. School, parents, friends, where we lived, goods we had, traumas we have been through etc all of this had impact on us, to the point where we understand how it created our personality or rather elements of our personality. Understanding those personality particles, will then allow us to decide how to make this puzzle work together, which to push to the back, which to enforce, so we are deciding who we are. Not the emotions to decide, not the ego who is our biggest enemy...
6. Ultimately, to remember, which Piotr learnt through those years thanks to many people described above. Happiness is a choice. Smile is a choice. Deciding to be happy and finding purpose for your life makes even the most serious issues not to interfere with the core of yourself. Like the mourning after both parents deaths. Come easier....
"Gdańsk" is the summary of Piotr's Personality Transformation.
From a shy and inconfident boy, through series of events in life to become a fighter, the winner equipped with enormous will-power to succeed in business and life, embracing change and striving for success, to a balanced, mature man of resilience and balanced emotions and new leadership style.
In a grown up world, in serious business of thousands indirect reports, senior stakeholders of the worlds biggest economies transforming form a "dog with a bone" to a supportive leader able to navigate between agendas, potentials, commitments, results, emotions, cultures, seniorities and priorities with a strong belief of humanity in business and life.
There is no run away in this... Lie. Yes there is one run away: nobody wanted to live looking at the empty parents house. Or the parent's house occupied by new owners.
Everybody runs away from something, but "Gdańsk" for Piotr is a joint family decision of his Son, his Wife and his - to choose another and better place to live, starting new and fresh.
It has just been 1 week since Piotr and his family moved into a temporary flat before the target one gets prepared.
Week ago school started, all successful here in Gdańsk so far.
In 2 weeks Piotr is starting his Coaching Certification Training by one of the best polish coaching companies to use all the above into process, techniques and skills to help others. Hope to speak to you soon and stay tuned for more, shorter John Alex's blog articles.
Looking forward to getting your comments below the article!
All the best,
Life Personality Transformation