I was saddened by the recent death of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. Nothing at all to do with party politics, I admired him from a distance – because of his pragmatism and reputation for deal-making. He was enormously single-minded and got things done. Less talk; more delivery. I particularly liked that he insisted on being briefed on a ‘single page’ – ensuring that complex issues were reduced to the core. Now there’s a solid managerial idea. In an era of less spin, there was something authentic about his unsophisticated communications style.
Dungarvan Meeting: I only met him once. When I worked with Sterling Drug, we opened a factory in Dungarvan. Albert Reynolds was the Minister sent to cut the ribbon and arrived by helicopter. As Event Manager, my job was to pick him up and drive him to the plant. I was young and impressionable enough to be excited by this, keeping my fingers crossed that everything would go smoothly.
On Time: Like clockwork, the chopper arrived on time. During the 2-mile road trip to the plant I briefed Albert on the event. He was incredibly warm. But, somehow, the Plant Managers name became confused. During his address, ‘Mike Burke’ (the correct name) morphed into ‘Willie Burke’. Congratulations to “Wille Burke” and to “Willie Burke’s team” was mentioned about 8 times to the assembled crowd of local dignitaries. Afterwards, it led to a lot of good-natured ribbing. One wag in the factory commented that ‘Albert doesn’t know his Mick from his Willie’.
His Legacy: Albert Reynolds great legacy is the twin-track achievements of securing peace in Northern Ireland (or, at least, laying the foundations for this) along with brilliant negotiations with the EU. The latter supposedly produced an income stream of €7 billion to Ireland at the time (hence the nickname ‘The Billion a Day Taoiseach’). If anything, his time in the chair reinforces the power of focus and single mindedness.
Your Legacy: OK, you may be too young to write your epitaph any time soon. And, too involved in the here and now to fully contemplate your life’s achievements. But, sometimes, this idea of a ‘end point’ is useful in helping keep us on track. Here’s how the singer Tina Turner described it: ”My legacy is that I stayed on course … from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me”.
What’s the something inside of you that you believe in? And, are you making progress towards it? Don’t just clock in. Make a difference.
PS Joke of the Week: Stolen from the Edinburgh Comedy Festival: “My wife sold our Vacuum Cleaner last week. She said it was just gathering dust”
Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.