It was very nice to read a story in the Winnipeg Free Press about former Premier Doer completing his tour of duty as ambassador to the United States. You can find the story here.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a pretty apolitical beast. There are components I love in every political party’s platform. Truth be known, I am more a centrist than anything. Why then would I say that Gary Doer taught me how to build Agile Teams?
I always saw Gary Doer do three things to build consensus and relationships.
- Find commonalities first
Ex-Premier Doer is an accomplished team builder. He perhaps understood people and the power of a metaphor to bring people together better than anyone. Instead of trying to specify a solution or tell people what to do, Gary Doer usually found a metaphor or story that allowed people to get excited about the problem and solution. This metaphor then allowed each individual to interpret the metaphor and find commonality on their own. Many times I witnessed ex-Premier Doer find the only commonality that existed between the two sides and used that commonality to build a bridge to a solution. Usually this resulted in metaphors that were grounded in Hockey or Beer. 🙂 Both are sure to be winners north of the 49th parallel.
2. No Ego
Gary Doer also had the charisma and modesty to be self-effacing and have a friendly conversation on the issue. He really understood that all progress comes through building relationships and that authority is lost once you have to use it. Never once did I see him upset or rankled, directive or flustered, he was always even keel and building bridges. This lack of Ego really did allow people to understand that he truly was interested in your position and he cared. He also understood he couldn’t just tell you what to do and usually had a suitcase full of facts to share with you.
3. Walk the middle of the road
Then when it came down to the issue, Gary Doer was always able to walk the middle of the road and not appear overly partisan. (Maybe I have this view because I like the middle of the road) 🙂 But whatever the reason, Gary Doer was an expert in building compromises and solutions in the middle of the road. On a team, you usually have to walk the middle of the road. If you always swing to the extreme of one side of the team, you will eventually lose the other parts of your team.
I wish Gary Doer all the best in his next challenge. If he needs a new challenge, the political scene in Manitoba could always use another good person. 🙂 Or I could always use a good Agile Project Manager.