Today I walked out of the office and into the fresh air. I stopped, looked across the parking lot, looked to the sky and began to walk. I took my time. I took long, deep breaths and felt the clear, unfiltered air filling my body. My head cleared and I scanned the horizon.

What was in front of me?

Opportunity as far as I can see.

Sometimes I drive alone, and sometimes I travel with colleagues. I am always interested to observe the way that people change once they step outside of the office. Do they loosen their ties? Run their fingers through their hair? Do they take a moment to pause and take in the world around them?

I particularly like it when there is more than two of us. Three or four is great.

We get to my car and I wait and watch, Who will take the passenger seat? Who offers to sit in back? Is this a transaction or an experience? It is a small thing, but it is important. It reveals plenty.

This episode reminded me of Seth Godin’s recent article on the “front row culture”. It is a style of culture that I very much strive to foster:

The group files into the theater, buzzing. People hustle to get to the front row, sitting side by side, no empty seats. The event starts on time, the excitement is palpable.

The other group wanders in. The front row is empty and stays that way. There are two or even three empty seats between each individual. The room is sort of dead.

In both cases, the CEO or the guest speaker is going to address the group for an hour. But the two groups couldn’t be more different.

The first organization sees possibility, the second sees risk and threat. The first group is eager to explore a new future, the second group misses the distant past.

Those of you that know me, know I love cars. Fast cars. I only have two seats. For me, there is no back row.

Nina Nets It Out: As leaders we can hire, train and create the conditions where our colleagues and staff are forward facing, future chasing leaders. We can also create the conditions where entropy takes hold. In many ways leadership is about making choices – and culture too, is a choice. The question to you is, where do you want to sit?

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