They'll be spizzed at Ford


Imagine you are sitting in a board or commission meeting. You know how those things are – the night before them, everyone checks their schedule and lays out their just-back-from-the-cleaners business suits, we sit around the big rectangular table, tons of paper that some of us have read, a dictating machine, the name placards out for the new members, staff outside the fishbowl, and “the chair will entertain a motion . . . ya di ya di ya.” Bang the gavel. Z-z-z-z.

So, when Janet Lawson, executive director started explaining at an official meeting of the Michigan Community Service Commission how we were going to reform the Governor’s Service Awards, and she told us all that she and her team were “really spizzed” about the new Awards program, you can imagine the looks. At first people seemed a little nervous, like maybe we didn’t know what the word “spizzed” actually meant (Be honest: Do you?). But we were seeing if others were similarly befuddled. Of course, we all looked quite serious and masked our uncertainty; this was a board meeting after all. But then slowly the subtle sideways glances turned to small and knowing smiles that worked their way around the room, as if to say, “Don’t you love this 50-ish woman talking with the unvarnished enthusiasm of a 4 year old?!!!” That’s our Janet Lawson.

For two years Janet brought something that every team loves: pure, creative, joyous ENERGY! In her two years at the helm of the Community Service Commission she brought a magic wand of energy everywhere she went:
* one-on-one meetings with new commissioners (that’s why they knew she wasn’t crazy or “immature” when she told us she was spizzed)
* new initiatives to get mentoring on the airwaves
* a Governor’s Service Awards dinner without the dinner but with Jeff Daniels and extraordinary local performers and a cheap ticket and lots of fun instead
* a fun team competition at work to get her staff healthier (measured in pounds lost and laughter expressed)

Leaders gauge energy levels, and leaders get people spizzed by the leader’s enthusiasm. Oh, it can be introverted. It can be a quiet drive. It can be modeled through long hours, intense concentration, risk taking. But there’s nothing like seeing it, feeling it, being infected by the sheer joy of it. Janet Lawson I’ll never be, but I will not forget how Janet lived the lesson: teams thrive on energy. As a result, I will bring a little bit more of energy, and I will encourage the natural actors in our company to light up our stage with their joy and flair.

Today Janet’s staff members will arrive to find personalized gifts she left each of them late Friday. Our loss at the Community Service Commission is Ford’s great gain, as Janet begins as their worldwide director of volunteerism and giving. Ford: get ready to get spizzed.

You’ve got to get spizzed yourself if you’re going to . . .

Lead with your best self,


P.S. If you want another fun example of leadership energy how about this one: Has anyone seen Detroit Tigers pitcher Nate Robertson in the late innings chewing a golf ball sized wad of gum and bringing the rest of the team to the edge of the dugout to chew, and cheer on their brothers? Brings a smile to my face every time I see it.