On every floor at Red Hat Tower in downtown Raleigh, you’ll find a brand message sign that describes Red Hat’s values and culture. On the floor where I intern, the brand message is “Leaders are catalysts, turning shared purpose into shared results.” I see this sign multiple times everyday. Coming into work. Going to meetings. Grabbing a coffee. It’s always there.
Over the past several weeks as an intern with Red Hat, it has become clearer that this message is not only an aspiration but a description.
Interns for the company's internal training and career development group, Red Hat University, spend a good amount of time working on leadership and management education content. The word leadership can incite more confusion around vagueness than clarity around vision; maybe that’s because there are many leadership styles and many situations people face where the leadership approach calls for adaptation. Leadership is not a word to be easily defined but a mindset to be carefully discerned.
There are many people in my group that dedicate their time to helping Red Hat employees grow as discerning leaders from an individual level all the way to an enterprise level in their competencies. Competencies are what you need to know and be able to do to succeed in your job. In alignment with how all projects are completed at Red Hat, we collaborated with employees to define our five leadership competencies. The feedback for the first four competencies came from employees’ observations that great leaders around the globe had the ability to execute, influence, strategize, and manage talent. Great leadership specifically at Red Hat requires an additional competency that multiplies the impact of the four general leadership competencies. This competency is called the Red Hat Multiplier, which is defined as the ability to connect, extend trust, be transparent, collaborate, and practice meritocracy. These behaviors are important to the context of our company and industry. The Red Hat Multiplier is what catalyzes leadership at Red Hat.
If the brand message sign simply read: “Leaders are catalysts, turning purpose into results,” it would embody a different meaning. Leaders at Red Hat don’t function as catalysts that move quickly for the sake of swiftness; they live in line with the Red Hat Multiplier to quickly turn shared purpose into shared results. That might take more time, but it changes the quality of purpose and results.
Before applying to intern at Red Hat, I spent a good amount of time on the Red Hat Jobs website to gauge if the company would be a good fit for me. As someone who likes defining purpose in my work (like most people and especially millennials), I dug into Red Hat’s mission: “To be the catalyst in communities of customers, contributors, and partners, creating better technology the open source way.”
Technology the open source way?
I don’t write much code and am not very technical, but I wanted to learn about Red Hat and why what the company does is valuable. I did research before my interviews but was still not sure about the meaning of "the open source way."
During my first week as an intern, I asked a colleague some technical questions about a product’s value to a user. Not only did he answer my questions, but he took the time to whiteboard an example of how all our products are developed the open source way and how our technology helps users. This encounter was influential for three reasons. First, it was nice to see my colleague was approachable and willing to help me (this has since been the case with all my colleagues). Second, his explanation helped me to better understand the open source way in a more concrete way, and in a technical sense, which enabled me to make stronger connections to how employees mirror this method in all facets of work. Third, it instilled in me greater appreciation for what so many of my coworkers do every day.
Within my group, we celebrate accomplishments collectively and we celebrate the lives of each team member.
Emails are sent out that never fail to acknowledge others’ excellent work on projects. There are birthday parties for each team member. Twice a week we meet to pinpoint ways we can help each other achieve shared results. Our group also takes the time to share in wins across teams, functions, and the entire company. Recently, we all walked together to the release party for the operating system the company launched this summer, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. We attend or watch company meetings looking to celebrate good news.
When a company is united around shared purpose and retains catalytic leaders, we move towards shared results. With shared results, we celebrate. Together.
“Leaders are catalysts, turning shared purpose into shared results" is more than a brand message. It's Red Hat.