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The True Test of a Leader - When You Say Goodbye

5/21/2012 09:24:00 AM Chai Chen 2 Comments

Goodbye, Eric!

And just in case you guys are wondering, well, Eric isn't my boyfriend lah! And no, he didn't go missing or something ... He's actually my boss. I can't help but post this here because he's leaving and ... this affects me so much ... because he has touched my life in more ways that he could imagine.

He isn't really that kind of a boss like one of my past bosses whom I fondly called Daddy Jack; from whom I also learned a lot of valuable lessons in life ... and to whom my post A Call To Young Leaders is dedicated to. This time around; I dedicate this post to Eric...

Me and Mr. Eric Petrosevich, Managing Director for Client Services;
with my colleague, Jixy

Sir Eric ... okay I'll be straight ... we just call him Eric because he wants us to veer from the Sirs ... He's very low-profile and he's not the type who bosses around. While we don't agree a lot in many items (you bet, I insist my side a lot too, LOL); in the end, it's the respect that we have for each that prevails and eventually he trusts my business decisions - which also succeeded a number of times (and kept him from reworking my tasks hehe). Initially, we had contentions as he leads and there was resistance on some other factions but he eventually earned that respect from other departments too. I believe he's such an effective leader - that it's too bad and sad that we're letting him go. At first I couldn't understand (like a child whom their dads leave them behind) but as he explained well ... I eventually understood. In fact, I am happy for him now and I just need to accept the fact that he's going to better place where he could lead & help more people like me.
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Some folks who saw this photo said he looked like someone from a series hehehe. Well, he's tall and looks like someone, really! Nope, he isn't. I don't really know him that well, personally. It's only been months and a few short for counting a year. But I have all high respects for this man; for being the leader he could be, to me. He didn't even realize that, I guess. He always tells me in our one-on-one meetings that he feels he hasn't done too much yet nor is he a good leader. I always tell him the other way around. He does miss out on a lot of those meetings though, LOL. He's too darn busy but that's one thing I certainly appreciate from him ... he finds time to speak with me ... his team. Despite his too-hectic schedule, he finds time to touchbase and talk about our progress and even touch on some personal updates - just to get a feel of how we take things at work at that moment. I guess this is how he embodies what Henry Miller says of a leader - that a real leader indeed, has no need to lead. He is contented to point the way; which Eric definitely did - and he feels he ain't much of a leader ... but truly is!

At first, like I mentioned earlier, we didn't agree on a lot of items. For example, he'd want me to do something that I believe I shouldn't be the one doing them. He'd insist I do them and we'll end up arguing - a healthy conversation all the time, I must say - no hard feelings! Most times, he would concede - but that's only because he's challenging me to prove my point. He doesn't accept things just how they are - he wants me (or us) to execute our tasks with convinction, and not just us doing things as a fly-by process. This has brought in good results in more ways for all of us. And I am always grateful for those conversations - because debating with him is a good exercise for my brain cells (and all of us) and even more, challenges my capacity to lead like him ... and strengthens me to exercise the leadership style he has - that fosters better results. In the end, he would thank me for it and would recognize my contribution for, say,  a project's success. I guess there's not a lot of managers or even executives around who would do that. Eric is not like that though ... and that makes him an outstanding leader; just as what Sam Walton would quote. He goes out of his way to boost the self-esteem of his personnel because he believes that if the people believe in themselves; it's amazing what they can accomplish!

I get irritated mostly hehe (because of the arguments LOL) but later, as he boosted my self-confidence; I become more thankful than not. His ways aren't all the positive though (so imagine why I am irritated sometimes haha) but his style achieved the common goal anyway. Who am I to complain? He made me better. After all, there's no leader who's great unless they take pride and joy in the success of those under them, right? Those who compete with the success of their team members are no leaders at all ...

As Andrew Carnegie puts it, "No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself; or to get credit for doing it." Eric takes pride in his team's work. And he does take the blame and own it all when we do fail though (LOL), which has also happened like ... a lot? Hehe. I remember when there was this recent escalation about one of my projects and he got heavily dinged on it. I swear I wanted to shoot myself in the foot and just own it, to spare him from the blame. That's how I highly respect this man too; that I don't want him to suffer from my misses. However, he proudly took ownership of it and just spared me the burden. I believe that it's a highly noble deed. I guess if it were any different or someone else with a common boss mindset; I would've gotten all the harsh words and shouting I could get ... or probably spare me the talk but hit me hard on the back until I lose reputation and suffer endlessly from my mishap. Thankfully, Eric is not this kind of boss. And I owe him big time for that. I will never forget what he did and I will forever be in-debt to him. We simply took it as a "lessons learned" part of our life and he has stressed all the time; that people are not perfect and we commit mistakes ... and this is one of them. And if I'll dwell on it and worry too much about it; he'll leave me alone and won't help ... coz what he wants is for me to be strong; pick myself up, and move forward - as a strong member of the team. I definitely did ...




This was how he saw me personally for the first time. They said first impressions last and that however you look and present your self does make a difference too. We normally just talk on the phone and have seen pictures and I know definitely, it didn't help much ... than when we first met in person. And that moment defined the better working relationship we had - he trusted me more and has seen how I physically work. And from there built that confidence that I can do whatever he delegates.

Going back to that incident ... it makes Eric a great embodiment of the leader that Russell H. Ewing tells us ... "A boss creates fear, a leader - confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting. A boss is interested in himself, a leader is interested in the group." I can't imagine how many times he also did call me for some questions he has asked multiple times for clarification. If I were any other staff employee or from the rank and file; and not part of the management team, I would take it as if he's stupid (excuse me for the term) and that he doesn't even know what he's doing ... and at most cases, he's just like any other boss - a credit-grabber. But Eric isn't like that. Once he learned his craft; he takes lead and thanks or quotes his team for what he learned. His success is our success too. He's one of the rare ones whom you'd see and hear say "We" than "I." It's not a sign of weakness though or that he lacks judgment hence, couldn't own things by himself. Don't get me wrong. By him owing it to the team, he does own things far better than those who just says "I" when it's smooth sailing but says "them" when it's stormy. In fact, I've heard him say "I" the other way around - when it's a rocky road to track ... but says "we" when we've already met the sunlight.

Am I saying that Eric is all praise-worthy? Hell yeah! He's not perfect though ... and nope, I am not hailing him! He's not a god or something lah~ Didn't I say he also misses out on our meetings? A number of times I couldn't reach him too because he's too busy (LOL). He doesn't read much emails (and has missed a lot of times on mine too HAHAHA!) which means sometimes, he misses out on my updates too and that sometimes, I've already resolved what he's been worrying about. I mean this to joke around with him forever lah~ Not to discredit him or something. John Maxwell said, "Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them." We're oceans apart and he's in the US geographically but despite the distance, we were able to "connect." His leadership made makes me do things not just because I'm obliged to; but because I want to. He has strengthened my vision and foresight, hence, the more "initiative" I exert in my projects and tasks. I've done them before he even asked ... those kinds of stuff? Well, not all times though (I ain't perfect either) but I've constantly been doing it and has improved on it ... as he tells me as well. And with that, I am grateful for him ...

There are many other things I wish I could share but this post might be too-draggy already. Don't want this to be overly wordy ... as I just type what I think and remember from what has transpired in the months I've reported to this awesome guy. He never really made me feel like I work for him ... he made me feel like I work WITH him. I only met him once, personally (well, a few weeks to be exact when he came over here) and I regret that I didn't have much photos with him (nor with him and the team) ... and that first photo above is all I got. Tears falling down now, ei?



I remember working on a business review deck with him and gosh! He's also "OC" like me. My multiple times' revision even doubled as he chimed in. A lot of those speaks as well of times why I wanted to keep certain slides hehe. Talk about stubborn, right? But he was more stubborn! LOL. We were fighting over simple stuff as color schemes! LOL. And this photo above that you see is how I went on with the battle as we presented ... I had lesser hours of sleep due to working longer. HAHAHA! Naaah, I don't really blame him for that. I love working with him. I'm just ... reminiscing, that's all. And what's me without my fashion sense in my corporate life anyway? So I post these! Haha.

And now he takes his final bow ... I told you I now understand why, right? And yes, I am happy for him to where he's going. One thing I learned from some of my few past bosses as well (Daddy Jack included) who are good enough to leave a legacy is; succession management. As bosses, your work will speak for you and the work that your people do. It's not just what you personally do but what your team does. Hence we oftentimes hear that the true test of a leader is not when he is present and everyone is working; but when he is out and his team still works - there are many variations of it already but this is how I'll put it. It's as simple as saying as well that when the cat is away, the mouse will play - which reflects how ineffective leaders are perceived. To me, Eric is not like that cat wherein I could be the mouse who'll play when he's gone. HAHA! What a kiddie analogy huh? Well, I'm just adding fun to this post heheh ... I'm afraid I'm getting overly serious. LOL. What I mean to say is ... though he's leaving ... or he's "OUT," I am still much delighted to work as he taught me how to; or improved how I worked before. I know my actions are reflective of him too and I don't ever want to be a reflection of his failure. He has also made me work because I wanted to ...

I didn't really know how to take his departure ... initially ... but now I do. While it is really sad ... I am also happy for him and the success he's taking on where he's going. He might leave us behind but it doesn't mean he's leaving us hopeless. Because now, we are, in each of our own unique ways ... clones of Eric and his leadership. He was successful in that style ... he is taking his "FINAL TEST" as Walter Lippmann would say ... "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on ... The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully." I know we can survive ... coz he left in us the little Erics within our hearts. I kept on asking why he had to leave before, like a month in agony now ... when I had no clue why ... that I had to ask and beg for him to stay ... that I know we waited so long to hire someone like him with a strong sense of leadership on a macro level ... and why it's too easy for us to let him go ... but now I do understand ... I really do. And that Eric fire burning in our hearts as a team ... the team he honed strong-enough to widthstand the trails that may come our way and still deal with the high demands we know we'll normally get ... that Eric fighting spirit and leadership fumes within us ... and we'll definitely keep that fire burning ...

To you Eric ... if you'll ever get a chance to google this and stumble upon your name posted ... I want to tell you ... I'll definitely miss you and those times and stories I mentioned above ... among many other things. It's five (5) more days from now ... no regrets! No more tears! I want to thank you for everything you've done and for making me the manager and leader I am now, today. We're humans and may get as emotional as this sometimes but I just really want to share how exceptional you are ... as my boss ... as a mentor ... as my leader. Your family is really lucky to have you so I want to say regards to them - your lovely wife and daughters. I hope the kids keep the cutesy toys I gave them through you. I know you'll be terribly missed by the team as well, not just me. We'll move on ... and we'll move forward. Your legacy will stay with us ... I know that's what you want. Thank you very much ...

No goodbyes then, Eric ... just ... 'til we meet again ...



Chai

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2 comments:

  1. Just dropping by. I'm hosting a link exchange in my blog. Post a comment with your URL and lets link our blogs together. Looking forward to see you there.

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