Phil McKoy (left) shared with me a specific moment when he knew “goodness pays” in his leadership.

Leadership guru, Brené Brown, often repeats this quip: Clear is kind – unclear is unkind. Since the day we committed to researching and promoting the idea “goodness pays,” I have been encouraging the speakers at the Good Leadership Breakfast to share their perspective on this idea. And, in the speaker follow-up interview, I’ve been asking this question: Will you please share with us a specific moment from your career, when you knew for sure goodness pays in your leadership?

Goodness pays when people thrive together in a culture of encouragement, accountability and positive teamwork. Phil McKoy, the top IT person at UnitedHealthcare reinforced Brene’s point in how he answered my question – it’s a great lesson in how clarity brings out the best in people. From the stage he said:

When speaking at the Good Leadership Breakfast, Phil described a vivid digital countdown clock as a source of clarity and motivation on a global project.

“When I was at Target, I led the program to get our digital platforms off of Amazon and bring them in-house. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, the most fun I’ve ever had professionally.

One of the things I did to create focus, was install what I called the countdown clock. It was massive digital clock on our floor here in the US and on our floor at the India location, that counted down to the exact moment when our contract with Amazon was going to end. It told us precisely when Target.com needed to be ready for our customers. 

Some of my peers said, ‘That’s the meanest thing you could have done. Think about the pressure you have put on your team.’ Looking back, it proved to be the exact opposite, here’s why:

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First, it sent the message that we are all in it together, and we are all shooting towards that goal. It created motivation and focus. And we are not going to worry about anything else except that countdown. It united everyone around a singular goal – our vendors and our employees. Second, we used the clock as a source of fun. Watching everyone work with a shared sense of urgency, I realized you can do something really hard if you have the right camaraderie and the right support for your teams, especially with a global team.

Many people bet against us on that project, and many people didn’t think we’d deliver what we needed to deliver. And we did it! I would argue that I don’t think Target would be in the position that it is today, as a great multi-channel amazing retailer, if we hadn’t had the singular focus to get that project done, back in 2011.”

Since that moment on stage, I’ve been thinking about how creating more clarity can help our clients – and our own firm – thrive together. Clarity helps with encouragement, accountability, and positive teamwork. So, how can more clarity help goodness pay for you?

Tickets are on sale now for the Fall 2019 Good Leadership Breakfast Series, which begins in August.