The Leader Foments Revolution (aka: Seeds My Mom Sowed)

In a broad sense, what leaders do is stage revolutions. ~Chris Brady

The revolution fire I am trying to ignite in the software development world is – People Matter. People are so much more than the skills they bring to the workplace. They are not just Developers or QA or Designers or any other assigned role but complete human beings. People deserving a work environment embracing their entire person. People Matter is why I do what I do the way I do what I do.

People Matter is ‘my why!’

People Matter means people and profits instead of sacrificing people to boost profits. It means concerted caring over indifference. It means the chess masters mistreating people as pawns to boost shareholder value need a revelation in thinking, a revelation wherein each person is viewed as embodying the importance ascribed to the chessboard Queen.

Seed Planting

The seed type, People Matter, was planted long ago in my youth. At the time, I was unaware the seed was being planted by my mom. I doubt she was aware herself. Her repeated mantra was to include everyone in our sports, our games, our activities including those with less than stellar athletic abilities, including those who happened to show up after the event started, including those who were marginally in the friend zone. Everyone who showed up was included no matter the circumstances. If we ever excluded anyone, she would not allow us to play.

Seed Germinating

Some seeds need extreme conditions to crack for germination. The mighty Sequoia requires the intense heat of a fire to open their seed cones. An open seed finding fertile soil germinates. My People Matter seed opened and rooted when I played 5/6 grade American football for my Catholic grammar school team, the St. Gerald Giants. I use played in a very loose sense. I was decidedly a non player, a practice dummy during the week, a dressed bench spectator come game day. During my 5th grade year, I played one play the very last game of the season. The next year I was ‘allowed’ to play a couple of plays per game as a member of the kicking and receiving teams.

Seed Leafing

The idea, People Matter, leafed during my first Willow Creek Leadership Summit in 1990. I was new and rudderless on my personal leadership journey, a Supervisor in the workplace making frequent mistakes. The Summit set me on course with a healthy wind billowing in my leadership sails. I was exposed to revolutionary leadership thinking. The perspective that leadership, done right, is people-centered not leader centric. A concept called Servant leadership coined by Robert Greenleaf. The teachings were directly in line with my mom’s mantra from years earlier. People Matter. Always choose inclusivity over exclusivity. She espoused concepts way ahead of her time.

Seed Flowering

The seed flowered during my tenure coaching youth soccer. I leveraged my boyhood experience with organized football and the devastating scars cut into my spirit to stage a revolution in youth athletics. I vowed a positive experience for children in athletics. My philosophy became everyone plays. Everyone plays at least half the game as long as they show up to scheduled practice sessions.

I did not confine anyone to safe position where a mistake would do minimal damage to the outcome. I enforced a philosophy of everyone participates over a focus only on winning. Every player was rotated to every position to ensure everyone had the opportunity for a full and rewarding experience. Game wins came later, a byproduct of focusing on the emotional and physical development of well rounded players.

Seed Sowing

I bring this philosophy into the work world. It is revolutionary to the old school chess masters, one I ran afoul of when I called him out for lying to a team I was leading. When he failed to keep the promises he made to the team, it affected them financially. He threatened to bury me if I did not bury the email. I forwarded the promissory email to HR and his boss. The company did nothing. I was checkmated a short-time later and escorted off the chessboard. I figured it was career suicide when I embarked on that path. I would take the same tack if presented with a similar situation. People Matter is ingrained in my belief system to the point of religiosity. It is easier to find a new job than to look a betraying David in the face every morning.

As a an Agile Coach, I am a focused on helping teams achieve high performance within the context of a People Matter philosophy. I coach leaders at various levels in the organization. The majority who are Millennials, a group I love working with. They are fueled by purpose, hungry to learn, thirsty for coaching, and the concept of inclusivity seems to be fundamental to their DNA. I am sowing the seeds for my revolution as I coach them to guide their teams along the path leading from average to high performing. All my coaching is built on the People Matter principles.


I expect this to transform how people are viewed and treated by their employers. If not now, then as soon as the Millennials move up the ranks into senior Management. I may not be around to enjoy the changes but I do take pride in sowing seeds of rebellion, a rebellion that will spawn the People Matter revolution.

All revolutions start as small rebellions. The root cause can be traced back to a single individual or idea. ~Chris Brady

What revolution do you need to start?

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Author: David A Olson

I often find my mind wandering to various subjects, subjects that make me stop and think. The blog, Musings of a Middle Aged Man, is a catalog of those thoughts I muse upon as I search for significance in life. I am the father of 3 children and the grandfather to 2. I spend my days working for a medium sized multinational corporation where I am an Agile Coach. I view myself as a Servant Leader, have a passion for leadership, particularly, in helping people develop their individual leadership skills and abilities. In October 2012, I went to India on business. After a week of being there, I still had not talked to or texted my 7-year-old grandson. He asked his mom, "Is Papa dead? He hasn't texted me all week." To facilitate communication now that he and I no longer live together, I started a blog for us to communicate. It's titled, "Correspondence Between Luke and His Papi". In April 2013, I moved to Pune, India on an 18-month delegation. It's an adventure that was 1.5 years in the making...The experience is captured on my blog, "The Adventures of an American Living Abroad" My two latest blogs are "The Learning Leader", a topic I have been studying since 1990, and "Lipstick on a Pig", a foray into the fashion sense of this middle aged man.

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