Frosty, our fondly dubbed Fairytale Facsimile (from Latin fac simile, “to make alike”) was not, in fact, “alike” the real thing, but then of course it’s not like the real thing was real either.
Still, when the snow falls but there’s not enough, or the snow won’t pack, and yet the grandchildren insist on having a jolly happy soul, then improvised garbage-filled bags serve “to replicate the source as accurately as possible in scale, color, condition, and other material qualities.”
Ok, in the case of our Frosty Facsimile, maybe not.
In either case, eventually, a meltdown of the ‘real’ snowman, and a haul-away of the facsimile snowman, will occur, as surely as the sun rises and the garbage truck arrives.
And therein lies, in this analogy, a most soul-searching truth, one that is understood by all good-to-great leaders and every good-to-great organization: “Being honest about our weaknesses is an important step in improvement and growth.”
Time, and the unfolding of events, will tell.
So said Dr. Anthony Muhammad, author of Transforming School Culture.
“One of the first steps a leader must take to positively affect school culture is a confronting of the brutal facts.”
Facing that reality, writes Jim Collins in his book Good to Great in which he cites Dr. Muhammad, seems antithetical to managing well, incompatible to motivating people.
“Now, you may be wondering,” writes Collins, “‘How do you motivate people with brutal facts? Doesn’t motivation flow chiefly from a compelling vision?’ The answer, surprisingly, is ‘No.’
“One of the single most de-motivating actions you can take is to hold out false hopes, soon to be swept away by events.”
Winston Churchill understood this, says Collins.
“Early in the war,” writes Collins, as the Nazi panzers swept across Europe, “Churchill created an entirely separate department outside the normal chain of command, called the Statistical Office, with the principal function of feeding him – continuously updated and completely unfiltered – the most brutal facts of reality. He relied heavily on this special unit throughout the war, repeatedly asking for facts, just the facts.”
Thus was Churchill able to go to bed and sleep soundly. “I . . .had no deed for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams.”
“Yes, leadership is about vision,” concludes Collins. “But leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.
“Every good-to-great company embraced both an unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”
Or be, as Frosty and his Facsimile, one day swept away by events.