Jay Gallinatti is one of the best managers I’ve ever had the honor of reporting to in my career. He was the manager who taught me how to be a manager. It’s my fortune that he deployed a very humanistic style that took the needs of the whole person into account. There are several core things that Jay did that resonate with me to this day. I try to employ whenever I have the chance:
- Jay was always coaching. During the early days of GoTo.com, I distinctly remember Jay coming back to his desk after a long day of meetings and spinning his chair around to face mine. We’d spend a good half hour or more talking about my team and how my day went. He’d give me coaching on how to handle situations and advice on how to see things from a different perspective (often that of the other person based on their needs). It was, in effect, a daily one-on-one meeting. Given how long of a day we all had back then, it was a major investment on his part in his new manager. I’ve since taken this level of commitment and have applied it to my managers whenever possible.
- Jay was communicative. One of my friends and coworkers, Cindy, described some talks with Jay as walking through the garden while he pointed out the flowers he wanted you to smell. Jay was a teacher and a smart executive. He needed to make sure his direct reports understood his point of view and could make decisions with it in mind. Instead of using a more brute force approach of handing the information down as a directive, Jay walked us through the issue and his thought process. We could question his thinking and he’d defend or, in some cases, adapt it if we saw something he missed. By the time this was done, our views were one and he was assured that we would make decisions at our level that were in line with those he made at an executive level. This kept his department in sync more than any other in the company. Our commitment to the direction was genuine since we played a part (sorta) in the final position. Ironically, after some months of this, we trusted Jay so implicitly we’d ask him to just tell us the position we should hold without the garden stroll!
- Jay let you express yourself. During these days I was still pretty brash. As the head of sales, I branded my team with a team name and created a call-and-response for us to end our sales meetings. It was loud. It was cheesy. It was the 90s. And, it was effective. This wasn’t Jay’s style. He was a quiet leader who led with a reassuring smile and confidence. He put that aside though and let me build a loud, playful, energetic team that was engaging, committed and, frankly, a bit cocky. He let us be us and we rewarded him for it with sales and one of the lowest turn-over rates in the company. (By the way, the brashness also created an aura that made us one of the most sought after teams to join but that grist for another post.)
Jay was proof that Sales heads don’t have to be the cheesy, comical tyrants barking orders to get results. His open, communicative style allowed “him” to be in meetings by proxy to keep the ship heading in the right direction. Most of all, it’s earned him a deep sense of loyalty. I know of at least two other people who, like me, would get on a plane to go wherever Jay says he needs us to be to this day – 14 years after starting to work for him.
There’s more to those GoTo.com days and Jay’s style that I’ll touch on in future posts.
What about you? Any Jays in your past to whom you remain loyal? Have you ever seen Jay’s style go horribly wrong in other circumstances?