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Pronouns Matter

  • 5 min
  • March 23, 2015
    • Leadership
    • Bossman Musings

A common leadership saying is “A good leader takes more than their share of the blame and less than their share of the credit.” But recently, I heard a similar concept and it really struck me.  This really smart guy (thanks Mike Bromelkamp) happened to utter “pronouns matter”, and it immediately stuck me. And not just because my mom was an English professor (maybe, sometime, for fun, I’ll describe a dinner conversation with my English professor mom and my Farmer dad, both of whom have equally impacted my career).

Pronouns Matter because OUR (not “MY”) team of Titans is flat-out awesome. I admit I’m biased, but I’m really lucky with the team WE’ve built here, and I respect and treasure that. And what WE have accomplished makes me endlessly proud.

I started Irish Titan over 10 years ago, screwed around the first 5 years with both consulting and Irish Titan, but have since focused on nothing but Irish Titan. Since focusing, WE’ve grown and OUR Titans continue to spread their wings. I’ll share 2 examples, then bring it home and stop boring you.

  • WE recently launched OUR website. During previous website projects, I was hands on, in the weeds, micromanaging design, copy, everything. But this time, the team not only kept me out of weeds (which I actually wanted, but isn’t always easy for me – Irish Titan is my baby), but they also went to extra lengths to OWN every aspect – design, copy, user experience – basically the whole voice. Titans like Adrienne Clairmont, Annyetta Lyttle, Sara Pertz, Derek Farder and Matt Wint, (although, in reality, almost everyone on the team deserves recognition for this site) made this personal. The entire experience was a sign of a company that is no longer a ME or an I, but a WE and an US.
  • I hope everyone already knows this, but WE have an annual client/partner appreciation event at Cooper. It’s one of my favorite things every year, because of the fun, relaxed, diverse vibe (again, I admit I’m biased). But this year, I was even happier. Every time I looked around, WE were spread out, talking to clients, talking to partners, talking to everyone. WE were making sure that everyone attending was having a good time (and not wearing a nametag). It was, BY FAR, the best demonstration of how far WE have come as a company as a whole.
"[...]what WE have accomplished makes me endlessly proud."

To bring this home, the last 18 months have been ripe with growing pains and difficult changes. Because of the good work OUR team has done, WE had outgrown the previous delivery tools, the previous delivery process, and the previous delivery mentality. So I undertook some serious changes – the not-fun kind. I use “I” intentionally, because I (it was MY fault, nobody else’s fault) waited too long to start these changes, ignoring signals from the team. But, once WE started down the path of those difficult changes, it was flat-out inspiring how WE stepped up. The various internal teams stepped up to own substantive changes, totally and absolutely forcing a sea change for our company, taking US to a new place where WE were all contributing to demonstrable changes in OUR enterprise maturity – roles, responsibilities, expectations, etc. Whereas decisions and responsibilities had previously been centralized to a few people (MY fault), it was now a vacuum where EVERYONE could step in. And, wow, did EVERYONE ever step in.

If you ask any of US to compare where WE are today to 12 to 18 months ago, you’ll hear some pretty amazing differences. And that has little to do with anything I did, because I mostly need to stay out of OUR team’s way. It has everything to do with what WE did.

And that’s why Pronouns Matter. 


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