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Not About You

Patrick McGarry's picture
Senior Director PCI

Patrick recently joined PCI as a Senior Director in May, 2019. He owns over 32 years of experience in commodity trading and owns an extensive record working closely with energy market...

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Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash


“Did she change her mind?”

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The question fleetingly crossed my mind on the morning of my wedding in Key Largo in 2004. When your future bride is running twenty minutes late and you are waiting in the church parking lot, many things go through your head.

Fortunately for me, Mariana was not planning to leave me at the altar. The photographer arrived late at her parent’s house for pictures. This would be my first experience understanding the difference between Cuban time and ordinary time.

But it would not be my last.

My dad sensed my musing and decided it was time for a little pre-wedding chat. Just some last-minute advice before I ventured off to my new reality.

“Heh Schwartz. Relax. As of today, it isn’t about you anymore. And when you have children, it really isn’t about you anymore. Just remember that always”

If I didn’t already realize my fading bachelorhood had minutes remaining, his words offered a stark reminder.

While I knew my dad was speaking to my future role as a husband and a father, I did not realize his advice would also pertain to my professional life. Shortly after returning from our two-week Hawaii honeymoon, I experienced some turbulence when I was suddenly and unexpectedly placed in a leadership position at my workplace.

“It isn’t about you anymore”

It’s About Others

There is a real difference between being a manager and a leader.

Leaders have followers, while managers have employees.

There is no one-size fits-all approach to leadership and it all depends upon the circumstances.

Situational leadership is a management style that adapts to the situation or job at hand, as well as the needs of the team or team member.

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is to serve. Quite different from traditional leadership where the leader’s sole focus is the success of their company or organization.

Servant leadership is about being fully committed to the welfare of others.

It’s not about you.

Servant leaders love to find talent, coach talent, and develop talent.

Servant leaders expect the best from their people as well as the best for their people.

When you find the rare person with strong situational leadership skills combined with a servant leadership mindset, you have discovered somebody truly capable of leading average people to achieve extraordinary things.

They make decisions based on productivity- not politics.

They combine grit with finesse.

Servant leaders focus on the strengths of a team member and try to avoid the weaknesses. Including their own.

Servant leaders seem to provide a consistent talent pool within their organizations because they are so committed to the professional development of team members.

They consistently assign success to people other than themselves.

And they have the courage to quietly deliver candid feedback, both good and bad, to team members.

They wisely deliver the feedback in the proper communication style because they have committed so much time and effort to learning the different communication styles of their team members.

They know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it.

They change lives forever.

They know it’s not about them.


The Big Mistake

What mistake do most companies make?

They put their star performers in leadership roles. They put great talent in wrong roles.

According to recent Gallup Poll data, companies choose the wrong manager 82 percent of the time.

Tenure and mastery of a previous, non-managerial position are the two factors that most often lead to a promotion to management.

Big mistake.

Management, like any other work skill, is an ability that necessitates a considerable amount of soft skills such as relationship-building, which are often ignored.

From the State of the American Manager report, "Having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and putting their well-being in peril."

People leave managers, not companies.

Rare Air

According to Gallup's study, about one out of every ten people has a high aptitude for management.

If great managers seem to be in short supply, it's because the talent needed to be one is in short supply.

But it’s worth the time, trouble and money to discover, develop and support these ten percenters. In good times and bad.

A great manager can make a good job even better, just like a poor manager can ruin a good job.

The State of the American Manager report lists the rare combination of five talents of great managers:

  1. Motivating team members
  2. Asserting themselves to overcome obstacles
  3. Creating a culture of accountability
  4. Build trusting relationships
  5. Make informed, unbiased decisions on behalf of the company

Companies promoting or hiring that combination of talent receive the following:

  • 48% increase in profitability
  • 22% increase in productivity
  • 30% increase in employee engagement scores
  • 17% increase in customer engagement scores
  • 19% decrease in turnover.

Such leadership talent is worth discovering. Worth supporting. In good times and bad. Worth trusting.

Trust is a fragile thing. Easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to ever get back.

Welfare of Others

Some moments in life seem to be etched clearly in our minds until the day we die.

Especially when somebody important to you delivers words of wisdom.

At the age of forty, I never expected some fatherly advice delivered in the parking lot of Saint Justin in Key Largo to impact me so deeply.

In truth, the words came and went that morning as quickly as every hour of my wedding day. I gave them little thought other than my Dad was trying to calm me.

Somehow, he planted a seed in my memory that would impact me forever during my future life at home and at my office.

He never told me how rewarding a life focused on the welfare of others would be. Maybe it would be, maybe it would not.

I would need to find that out for myself.

What have I discovered so far?

Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up perfectly. “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

It’s not about you.

Patrick McGarry

May 15, 2021

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida


















Patrick McGarry's picture
Thank Patrick for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 17, 2021

They put their star performers in leadership roles. They put great talent in wrong roles.

You definitely hear about this a lot-- the Michael Scott problem, if you will, where high performers are promoted to the next level assuming that's what's desirable for the employee and/or the employer. Not everyone needs to be on a management pathway, not everyone will follow the same track. Really great article, Patrick-- thanks for sharing the important message

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on May 24, 2021

Wow, what a great post. Poetic as it is insightful! I can't recall their names right now, but there are a number of companies that create tests which are supposed to discover what kind of role employees would most excel in. I can't speak to their efficacy in boosting company performance, but I took one and it gave me a shockingly accurate personality summary. Are you familiar with any of these kinds of these tests? 

Patrick McGarry's picture
Patrick McGarry on May 25, 2021

Thank you for the warm words Henry.

I am not incredibly familiar with many tests, but I have completed two that I found to be extremely helpful.

The DISC styles assessment and the Clifton Strengthsfinder.

I do believe firmly that if anybody focuses on strengths and stays away from weaknesses, you should be on a good path.

I think its wise to be aware of your weaknesses, but why waste the time to improve on something you are not great at, especially at the expense of not being able to devote more time to the things you are strong at.

Seems like the things we love to do, we excel at.

Because it doesn't seem like work at all.

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