Those pieces of advice that stick with you for a lifetime, even when the “Widow” is not a prestigious champagne brand, but much more.
It’s been over 10 years since Andrea, during my first job experience, gave me some advice about my love life during a lunch break. He said:
“Marco, remember! A respectable man should always have a frozen widow in the refrigerator.”.
Reflecting on it now, regardless of personal tastes (wine, champagne, prosecco, or beer), it has remained one of those indelible phrases that I occasionally use and to which I wanted to give my own meaning.
Here, the Widow is not about champagne, it’s not about being gallant on a date; it’s simply a switch, a symbol of intelligence and flexibility that everyone within a cohesive team decides to adopt.
It’s a signal that, in an instant, transitions the conversation from discussing the inauguration of a biomass plant with the presence of the President of the Republic to the following two minutes where everyone switches off their brains and starts “messing around,” only to refocus in the blink of an eye on what they were doing. It’s a way to relieve tension, to be more human, open, and create the necessary empathy in a group of people who spend all that time together.
Scrolling through social media, it’s easy to come across memes that wink at the populist vein of clichéd motivation, which loves to generalize about workplace dynamics closer to an American sitcom than to everyday reality. Here, leaders are described with hundreds of adjectives, ranging from the best-case scenario of leader, mentor, motivator, enlightened, or even genius, to the worst-case scenario of tyrant, despot, clueless, selfish, and so on.
But returning to the practical, concrete aspect, if I were to stop and look back at the people I’ve encountered in my career, it would be easier for me to categorize them into two large groups: those I respected and those I didn’t.
Those I respected and those I didn’t.
Finding someone who can guide you and help you grow is the most important thing there is. If you are “convinced” to follow someone spontaneously, everything will be easier, more sincere, and immediate, and most importantly, growth will occur on both sides.
One of the things I like to remember about that experience, besides the widow, of course, was the transparency towards the entire team. There were no phone calls, emails, or topics that couldn’t be discussed or shared in front of everyone.
Today, as I find myself on the other side, managing a group of people, I love to reflect on that “widow,” still trying to understand which switch operates in the same way in my case and with them.
A switch that shifts the Boss-Employee equation more towards the familiar (for me) Coach-Player dynamic.