If he made a commitment, he kept it. It might take some wrangling – always polite, of course – to get that promise, but once granted, you never had to check your back.
He was invariably polite and gave others the benefit of the doubt. “You don’t know what people are going through” was one of his truths and he cut a lot of slack in the face of rude behavior.
His ability to drain personalities from disputes was legendary. He always wanted to see if the other side’s position had any merit. He was wary of broad brushes and equally careful of automatically going to the middle ground.
Some actions, he’d declare, were simply wrong. “We don’t do that.” And once the statement was made, we all knew that this gentle man would be very hard to budge.
He was not reluctant to admit his own mistakes; in fact, he may have taken more blame than was needed. He was also overly generous in sharing credit.
His general approach was not to avoid minor items and do a few things that really mattered. That ability to discern the meaningful took a great deal of study, both of the organization and of his own specialty, and he wasn’t ashamed to review long-held assumptions.
He was without guile. His colleagues sought his advice because they could expect an honest and thoughtful opinion. They knew he wanted them to succeed and that if he disagreed with them, he’d tell them.
He was the ideal colleague.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.