Kyle McDowell’s career transformation from multi-billion dollar executive to coach to national leaders, author and keynote speaker had humble beginnings. In the summer of 2017, a spark went off at midnight in a dark hotel room in Lawrence, Kansas.
Plant City native, USF alumnus and Tampa resident McDowell spent the night in his hotel room preparing for the next day’s big speech. He was recently named Senior Vice President and Program Manager at Maximus, his business process outsourcing company with 14,000 employees and numerous federal contracts. Maximus had some big successes, but McDowell, who previously worked at UnitedHealth/Optum, said the company was heavily siled. And the profit stream hid a drop in morale. in charge of him? change culture.
Still, the then 42-year-old McDowell had his own problems. “I found myself really indifferent, really indifferent,” he says. “I just felt unfulfilled.”
McDowell watched the clock tick by, hoping for inspiration to present in front of Maximus’ 50 top leaders. He wanted authenticity and sincere buy-in, not clichés and clichés. In his debut book, he said, “I want to be just a starch shirt that makes empty promises about what I’m going to do and how I’m here to save them.” I didn’t think so.
As 3am approached, McDowell found an answer. It changed not only his business, but his own life and career. In his book Begin with We: Building and Sustaining a Culture of Excellence, published in September, he wrote, “My laptop was staring at me right now and 10 items came up. was there,” he wrote. “Without any intention or prior planning, they all started with the word us. I did.”
By November 2020, McDowell had turned the culture around at Maximus and was Senior Vice President at CVS Caremark before going independent. Two years later, the book came out. According to McDowell, now 47, his leadership culture and business The main focus of his coaching gigs is turning his bosses into leaders.
During the hour-long interview in Tampa and the phone call that followed, McDowell’s passion for the Ten Principles was evident. He also acknowledges that, on the whole, some of these things are pretty obvious to say, but not always simple to do: “It’s not rocket science,” he says McDowell.
A summary of the 10 principles includes:
1. We do what is right. everytime.
This principal is “consciously number one,” says McDowell.
2. We lead by example.
McDowell says that given how often employees ask leaders for cues of all kinds, leaders often miss opportunities to set a positive example. “Those in power are always under the microscope, and others imitate their behavior for good or ill,” he wrote. “Leaders must make sure their behavior is worth emulating.”
3. We say what we are going to do. Then we do it.
“Leaders are in the service business, but the main purpose of a leader is not to serve customers. You serve the team, and the team ultimately serves the customer. When you promise to do something for a customer, you are expected to do it.Why are things different behind the scenes for team members?”
4. We act.
It’s OK to take action and make mistakes. Being an idol is not. This principle is a follow-up to 3. Taking action is following through on what you say you will do. This principle, in a way, embodies McDowell’s approach to life. That’s why, for example, he abandoned a career in a perfectly respectable company to go on his own. McDowell also writes about how to create an environment where we choose to be curious. Not satisfied with the status quo. It is imperative that you think like the founder of your company. That’s the only way the team feels comfortable exploring new ideas, he says.
5. We admit our mistakes. We are not judged by our mistakes. We will be judged by how quickly we fix them and repeat them.
McDowell doesn’t have a favorite principle, but that in itself is near the top of the list in terms of how it resonates with the ethos of his life. “Mistakes are opportunities to improve objectively,” he wrote. “The key is to allow mistakes, identify the correct path of correction, and make sure that the mistake only happens once for him.”
6. We pick each other up.
To be a leader, McDowell says, bosses must not only encourage and embrace the success of others, but also foster an environment that opens up to teammates. Even if it means they leave the organization. McDowell writes that it’s okay to ask employees on your team these kinds of questions. Are you interested in taking on my role someday? ”
7. We measure ourselves by our results, not our activities.
“The biggest myth in corporate America: A jam-packed calendar means importance, automatic progress toward results,” writes McDowell. “Endless meetings and other forms of bureaucratic activity only matter if we can draw a clear line between activity and outcome. .”
8. We diplomatically challenge each other.
McDowell says that when you’re not challenging your team or yourself to be better, “by definition, you’re not just accepting the status quo, you’re pushing it.” (see Principle 4)
McDowell writes: A big caveat is to challenge others. It doesn’t mean pointing out all the flaws in their operations. ’ It allows everyone on the team to challenge others in a “spirit of improvement,” he says.
9. We accept challenges.
This principle follows the 8th principle. McDowell recognizes that challenging one another and oneself can be daunting. That is why at the beginning of this chapter on his zone of comfort, he quotes ultramarathoner and retired US Navy SEAL David his Goggins. Make it comfortable to be uncomfortable. ”
McDowell adds in the book: The only way to reach the other side is to accept the challenge, not run away from it. ”
10. Attention to detail. Details are very important.
“Obsession with details is synonymous with obsession with client needs and desires,” writes McDowell. “It’s the difference between average and excellent.” McDowell adds why this is the final principle. Principles 1 through 9 may also be at fault if the final product manufactured or provided by the company does not conform to standards of excellence. “Details are an absolute indicator of the care you put into your brand,” says McDowell.