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Friday, December 6, 2013

Authority to...

In the school I currently serve (Guthrie CSD, Guthrie, Texas), we recently invited Mr. Woody Gilliland to speak to our students and staff on the topic of being Compassionate and Responsible Citizens.

Mr. Woody Gilliland is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the West Texas Rehabilitation Center (WTRC) in Abilene, Texas.  Mr. Gilliland spent his first career as a 26-year officer (achieving rank of Colonel) in the United States Marine Corps.  In his second career he has been an administrator in several hospitals, and finally transitioned to his latest leadership gig at the WTRC (which is fully dedicated to serving humans of all ages with disabilities of all types). 

A very interesting thought about leadership that caught my attention was Mr. Gilliland’s view of organizational health.  He mentioned that he believed strongly that leaders of organizations should send the clear message, in both overt and covert ways, that EVERY employee was/is empowered to go to great lengths in meeting the needs of their customers.  He believes that layers of process and permission requirements do nothing but constrain our best work, and inhibit quality service delivery to customers. 

A phrase Mr. Gilliland uses to communicate this message goes something like this: “If you exceed your authority, we’ll let you know.”  The clear signal under his leadership is this: Be fully aware of the customer, identify their needs, be as innovative and creative as you like in meeting those needs.

What a powerful message. 

Now I’m self-checking to see if the folks I work with see, hear, and feel the same kinds of "you have the authority" signals from me…

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