We Need More Mooses

Some time ago I wrote an article (“Mean People Suck”) about my late friend, Terry “Moose” Millard, a Vietnam War hero, Southwest Airlines pilot, and renowned catalyst for high-performance work teams.  He was one of the most inspiring presenters I have ever met, and off the stage he was the same wonderful person.

Part of the reason Moose always stood out was because he exemplified so many of the ideals of a successful organization and its leadership.  Ideals are like that – they stand out as ultimate goals that very few of us reach.  Moose didn’t seem to understand this distinction, and so he lived them.  During a conversation about the importance of building and maintaining high performance teams in health care settings, he once told me, “It seems so odd to me that they (hospital executives) don’t understand that their patients can feel the absence of teamwork.”

Every organization or team would be wise to encourage the following Moose qualities in their companies:

  • Listening Well – Moose listened so well, he made you feel like each of your words and emotions was understood. When was the last time you felt that way (or helped somebody else feel that way) where you work?
  • Being Relentless – If Moore believed in the value of something, it was impossible for him to stop advocating for it.  If you truly believe something is important in the presence of obstacles, do you stick with it or do you eventually let it go?
  • Remaining in Integrity – In Moose’s world, being honest and direct with people was essential to a long term relationship.  From this perspective, life is much more about relationships than transactions. How would you evaluate your workplace integrity?
  • Having Fun – Moose saw having fun as a way to engage people at an intimate level and begin to break down barriers that inhibit effective working relationships. How much fun do you have or create in your professional life?
  • Bringing Love to the Workplace – “Love” was Moose’s favorite four-letter word.  To care about the well-being of co-workers, their families, and friends, adds to the quality of the work environment. What love and consideration do you express directly to your co-workers and other professionals?

Many of us are easily distracted from these core leadership qualities and organizational values in the name of immediate production and volume.  The problem is that in doing so we are also distracting ourselves from the longer term possibilities for building enduring value for everyone.