Bury My Heart at Conference Room B

Summary Written by Karina Mikhli
"Imagine making decisions based on what you most deeply believe is the right way to live. Getting accepted and rewarded for being who you really are. Experiencing non-stop energy from constant confirmation of your true self. Feeling certain in the most uncertain of times. Displaying rock-solid consistency between your intentions and your actions—even under pressure, especially under pressure. This is what it means to live your values. Achieve all of this at work and both you and your company will be a whole lot richer for it."

- Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, page 13

The Big Idea

Become a Leader

"Leadership happens to you as soon as you understand your own values and understand how to enroll others in supporting them. Instead of waiting for a leader you can believe in, try this: Become a leader you can believe in. The sooner you start to practice leadership, the sooner your personal values will start to be realized. So what exactly are you waiting for?"- Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, page 114

The first step for a manager who wants to live his values and inspire others to follow them is to figure out what those values are. Stan takes us through an exercise to determine what our top three values are and what those mean for us.

The next step is to share this with others, which is where leadership comes in.

Unlike management which is all about instructing staff on how to work better and harder and ensuring they do so, leadership, as per Stan, is inspiring them to live better. And leaders do this primarily for selfish reasons: they want to live and work based on their own values and believe the world would be better off following these values too. So they work hard to inspire others to support them and their values so that they can live the life they want.

Insight #1

Define the Better Place

"In leader-speak, the Better Place is the ‘vision.’ Because their vision is driven by true belief, leaders really can see that Better Place… Seeing it yourself is not enough; your people have to see it too. Leaders create vivid descriptions of this Better Place. They have to describe it so you can really see it. "- Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, page 117

How do leaders inspire others to live their values? One way is by vividly describing their vision—the “Better Place” where all can live by these values and be better off. To better inspire this transition, they contrast this with equally vivid descriptions of the “Bitter Place,” which is meant to represent the negative current state.

This method can be applied for teams and organizations, and even for one’s personal life. The key is to know your values, really understand how you want to change the world to be aligned with them, and then paint this picture for those who you want to come along.

And they’ll be okay with it being your values and not theirs as long as the picture you paint—and the Better Place—makes their lives better too.

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Insight #2

Cherish and Protect Their Trust

"Make amends for any small violations of trust. Your people will appear to shrug off these violations as no big thing, but the employee culture is listening now and it wants acknowledgment that you know you were wrong."- Bury My Heart at Conference Room B, page 194

For anyone to follow you to that Better Place, they need to trust you—trust in your values and trust that you will live by them and your vision through thick and thin. It is therefore vital for leaders to cherish and protect that trust. Be consistent. Watch what you promise. Don’t make commitments—even small ones—to keep things moving if you’re unsure you’ll be able to keep them. Your followers are watching and judging to see if they can trust you and the values you claim to represent.

If you make a mistake—and it is okay for leaders to do so—own up to it and apologize. Do this quickly and honestly, be authentic, and show that you’ve learned from your mistake and care. It’s okay for leaders to be impassioned and emotional—Stan even argues that this helps their cause—but it is not okay for them to be dishonest, disrespectful, or inconsistent.

Stan himself paints a very vivid picture of a “Better Work Place” where managers and staff can safely bring their best selves to work, be true to their values at work, and be respected and rewarded for this. He shows how managers need to first make a stand and become leaders who refuse to live by anything but their values for this to become a reality.

Read the book

Get Bury My Heart at Conference Room B on Amazon.

Stan Slap

Stan Slap has revolutionized performance for some of the world’s most demanding organizations. His international consulting company, slap, specializes in achieving ferocious commitment in manager, employee and customer cultures––the three groups that decide the success of any business. His client list ranges from Hewlett Packard and Microsoft to HSBC and Viacom. When he’s home, he lives in San Francisco.

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