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March 10, 2019 // 0 Comments

The A to V List: Aspire to keep Victims from Ruling your Organization

As a University of Michigan (U of M) alum, Ann Arbor MI was my home for 4 years. And without question one of the highlights of my college-years was dining at Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s Deli. Back then, of course, regularly dining on their enormous fatty sandwiches did not pose a threat to my girly figure the way it would today.  [Ah the youthful bliss of metabolic ignorance].

This month marks 37 years since Ari Weinzweig co-founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods, and a radical vision to replicate a New-York style deli in a college town. Today, Zingerman’s is a $40 million brand that serves 500,000 visitors every year (including me!) at its iconic Delicatessen & Bake-House, in addition to running a prolific cheese-making operation, coffee roastery, and up-scale mail-order catalog.

But as much as I like talking about delicious food, the focus of this blog is actually Ari Weinzweig… who has become an evangelist for customer service, and someone I would consider one of my all-time leadership gurus. In fact, even today, it’s still a little like meeting Oprah whenever I run into him at the Deli. Weinzweig’s four “Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading” books (Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business; Part 2: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Being a Better Leader; Part 3: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves; and Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to The Power of Beliefs in Business are all outstanding reads, but Part 2 has become one of my leadership bibles.

Like a Zingerman’s sandwich, the book is chock full of great ideas that can apply in any work place, but one “condensable” highlight from the book is called the “The A to V list”. 

On that list,A stands for “the stuff we all aspire to” whereas stands for “victim” (or as Weinzweig puts it, “the things that ineffective leaders do that create a culture in which victims rule“).

I, however, like to think of the “A” as standing for “Agile”.

A to V list – TOP 10:

1) A-list: Be considerate. V-list: Be rude.

2) A-list: Be consistent. V-list: Be all over the place.

3) A-list: Be reasonable. V-list: Be arbitrary.

4) A-list: Good energy. V-list: Bring bad energy to work.

5) A-list: Be humble. V-list: Hog the credit.

6) A-list: Take responsibility. V-list: Act like you didn’t know.

7) A-list: Show your belief in those around you. V-list: Constantly criticize.

8) A-list: Follow through. V-list: Drop the ball regularly.

9) A-list: Listen well. V-list: Tune out.

10) A-list: Be real. V-list: Fake it.

Weinzweig makes it clear that leaders don’t set out to let victims play a starring role in their organizations, but it happens when they “behave badly, believe the worst, and/or act arbitrarily, angrily, and inconsiderately”. He continues, “Inconsistency often rules: One week ineffective managers will act like autocrats, the next week they’re inclusive, and in the third, they’re neither – just following the rules sent down from corporate.” The result is that these leaders literally set the stage for victims of their poor behavior to take center stage.

So here’s my challenge for you. What other V-List behaviors have you seen poor leaders display, which inadvertently created a culture where the victims garnered more and more attention and influence?

Your turn…GO!

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