Two simple words to say, but not always something so simple to do. My 4 year old has been known to blurt this out after he has done something wrong and knows he is in trouble. Like if he just says this, it will automatically make his poor choice go away and instantly I will be happy!
Throughout our leadership journey, how many times have we said to a peer or team member something along these lines? “Let it go,” or “Get over it,” were my two personal favorites. Yes, if someone just tells me this, I will magically move past something that has annoyed or upset me. And of course I have said these very words to others, so I am just as guilty.
I believe that we often try to fix a situation just by saying something. While this might help a little, it will not address the issue at hand. We are conditioned as leaders to deal out advice because we have been led to believe this is what our team members want. And, in many cases they do want our advice, but sometimes we need to dig a little deeper and listen more than we speak. In many cases I have often found that a team member will come to you when they are unhappy and in need of a sounding board – someone who can listen and help them work through something that might be bothering them. Guiding the conversation and probing a little further can sometimes aid a team member in finding their own solution without some cliché saying being tossed around.
Do we all need to let it go or get over it sometimes? Yes we do, however simply saying the words doesn’t make it happen. Sometimes as a leader just listening will go much further than offering your words of wisdom!
For those of you who follow Lead in the Moment, you know that we not only love servant leadership but incredible customer experiences. At times, we will share the good and bad of these experiences. In this case, it is a story of how honesty created raving fans for a local business and additional revenue.
This summer I decided to focus on my health. You can consider it a delayed New Year’s Resolution. In my youth, I was an avid bike rider but I had not ridden a bike in fifteen years. This summer I decided it was time to bike again.
Obviously, my bike was old. I was not sure if it would be worth getting it fixed or buying a new bike. I loaded my old bike into the car and drove to a local bike shop. I wheeled in the bike and waited for my turn. As I waited, I walked through the store looking at the shiny new bikes. When my turn came up, I said to the gentleman, I wanted to get my bike looked at. I don’t know if it is worth fixing or getting a new bike. He said, this bike (he never used the word old) is a great bike and just needs a tune up. You cannot get a bike like this anymore. I can get this bike ready in a day and you will save a lot of money because the new bikes are far more expensive.
I was totally shocked that he would not try to sell the new bike. When I picked up my “old” bike, it looked fantastic. After the pick-up, I took in my wife’s bike and my daughter’s bike for a tune-up. I also bought my son his first bike from this store. One interaction of pure honesty, created a lasting relationship and a raving fan.
I am curious what you would do in a situation like this. The concepts of “right and wrong” are often blurred by circumstances and our personal biases.
Here is the situation…
You are the bartender at a local bar that draws not only a nice crowd but out of town visitors who come for the fare. On this one night while you are working, the bar is about 50% filled; there are several groups of seats available. All of the customers at the bar are busy enjoying their food and the ambiance. Your friends come into the bar and want to sit down at one particular spot but there is not enough room. You prefer them to sit in this spot because it is in a corner of the bar where you can talk to them when it is not busy.
What would you do in this situation? Would you ask the customers already seated and eating to move seats or would you ask your friends to sit in one of the open sections with enough seats for them?
When this happened to us recently, the bartender asked two groups of customers in the middle of their meals to move over so her friends could have the corner. As the customers, Kristin and I felt like we were not as important as the bartender’s friends. It impacted our mood and opinion of the establishment. It also impacted the other customers who were asked to move. The first couple immediately left the establishment and their food.
Should you cannibalize existing customers for your friends? Do you move people in the middle of a meal because “regulars” show up? As “regulars”, you look forward to the familiar faces and camaraderie an establishment can give you. You also feel a certain degree of comfort in having “your seats”. I can see both sides of the argument but as a customer; I can only see my immediate impact. If I were the business owner, I see a bad customer experience, lost revenue and the potential of reputational damage.
Every decision you make may have unintended consequences because of our personal biases. It is important to see things from as many angles as possible when taking action.
Just as they peacocks show us, some are bold and some are plain. Leaders can take the same approach. Not all leaders are the bold, vibrant people that we encounter at our jobs. Some people display and live leadership by example without the vivid display. Both types of leadership are valued. Which type of leader are you and which do you aspire to be? Your choice will take you down a different path on your leadership journey.
When you look at the picture above what do you see? Do you see an upside down landscape or do you see something more?
This picture is actually a photo of a reflection of a landscape and sunset in a pond. If you look closely, you can see the ripples in the water. I took this photo while walking through a park with my daughter on a beautiful summer evening. Both of us have a passion for unique and interesting photos. As we were walking, she asked me to take a picture. So I snapped the photo, but did not realize the real beauty of what I captured until she showed me.
When I brought the picture up on my phone, my daughter showed me the true amazing features in this picture. Things I did not see when I snapped it. You can see the ripples in the water or you can see an inverted picture. If you look closely, you can see the slight orange glow of sunset reflected in the water.
After realizing how cool this photo was, I was more impressed at what I learned. It is amazing how you can change your perspective just by listening to a simple conversation. Do you ever stop and realize the golden nuggets in a conversation with a friend or colleague over coffee? Do you marvel at what a child can notice compared to what you take for granted or can be too busy to see?
My lesson from this day was to make sure I take time to notice the small details and intricacies of each day; otherwise, I will miss out on something amazing. When you think about your personal life or your career, these are words of wisdom to live by.
As leaders, we spend a lot of our time thinking about how to bring our team to new levels of success. As servant leaders, we are always looking for ways to breakdown barriers and empower our team members for their personal fulfillment and success. My question is whether or not we truly live and practice this in our personal life or do we simply focus on the team?
As leaders, we are called to lead by example. We are also called to sharpen our own skills. If we are not sharp and constantly learning and developing, how can we expect our team members to live what we ask?
I find this to be one of the hardest things about leadership to practice. I spend a lot of time focused on my team and will delay my own development. What ends up happening is that I grow complacent. I will put off my development at the expense of the team and say that I will make that up later. The problem with this statement is that later never comes. Daily leadership challenges will aid in your development, but are you really pushing yourself. Are you pushing your limits and thinking differently?
For me the concept of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone came several years ago. I attended a team-building event on a high ropes course. The goal was to climb a three-story tower that required you to stretch yourself to reach the top. On this day, I reached my personal threshold; I was half way up the tower and didn’t think I could go further. My team below me began to cheer and push me forward. In the end, I made it to the top of the tower and I learned that limits and development are often self-fulfilling statements. Today, I will continue to push my goals and growth in several ways. I will add more miles on to my daily bike ride, when I think I cannot go any further. Other times, I will receive encouragement from others. I had this experience again recently. I was co-authoring a piece with my wife Kristin and I did not want my name on it. I have not published anything since the first Bush was president. She told me to embrace the opportunity to put myself out there. If not this time, then it would come soon. We co-authored our first piece and published it this week.
No matter where we go in our careers, always push yourself and help push others. You never know whom it may help.
Another insightful look at leadership from my guest blogger, EJ Widun!
It is often said that a dog is man’s best friend. I believe it is true. Those of us who have pets forge an incredibly special and powerful bond.
Think about it…what’s not to love.
A pet gives you unconditional love.
A pet doesn’t care what went wrong or right, your pet loves you no matter what.
A pet will listen when you just need to talk.
A pet will be happy to just spend time around you and support you.
In our family, we have two dogs and they are truly special members of the family. We adore them and love them. They are always there with a tail wag and a smile. They are always ready to listen and offer unyielding support. No matter what has happened personally or professionally, our dogs are there to offer the perfect support.
Have you ever stopped to think if you, as a leader, display these same traits? Are you there for your team members no matter what happens? Are you there to offer unconditional support?
As leaders, we may feel that we have to be right or have the answer to every situation. That is not true. Sometimes our team members just need our support and love. They need us to act like a pet to them. They don’t need to be told how to be better or what could have gone differently. Sometimes the team member just needs your ear and heart.
So after reading this, I hope that you can take a moment to appreciate your pets for all they do for you every day. I also hope that as you reflect on your relationship with your pets, you learn how to apply the lessons that they teach you into your leadership style.