Honesty is the Best Policy

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By Guest Blogger EJ Widun

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.

Customers or Friends – Who Would You Choose?

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By Guest Blogger EJ Widun

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.

All Things to All People

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Do people-pleasers make good leaders? Pleasing others can create a nice, happy environment, but in an organization, can being a people pleaser lead to big problems?

You know the old saying about not being able to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. If you have figured it out, please let me know your secret! When you are tasked with creating a positive work environment for numerous people, it is simply not possible to be all things to all people. Everyone looks at the world in a different way, and have different perspectives, which can bring conflict. If you spend all of your time trying to please every single person all of the time, you are not leading – you are just reacting to those around you.

There are times when a leader needs to make a difficult decision, and it is not necessarily a popular decision. While it is important to take the opinions and feelings of your team members under consideration, there are times when tough decisions must be made and there will be unhappy people. Trying to be a people pleaser doesn’t help out; it can make an already difficult situation even worse. For example, if you have to make a difficult decision and you attempt to make everyone happy, there will be some who are satisfied with your decision and others who believe that you are just accommodating others and do not care about them. This can create division and animosity between your team members.

I worked for a leader one time who led with the idea that you could not make everyone happy, but as long as you treated everyone in a consistent, fair manner, people may not be happy with your decisions, but they could at least respect you.

Are you all things to all people?

All Guts, No Glory

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Why do you want to lead? This is a simple question that generates various answers. People have different reasons they desire a leadership role. Some may like to be in charge and leadership allows them this freedom. Others may see leadership as a calling, something they were meant to do. Or, you have the person that thinks their life will get exponentially easier by becoming a leader – they will not have to do all of the work they do now if they are in charge. I always got a kick out of those types, how little they understand about the true meaning of leadership.

Leadership is a labor of love if you want to be an actual leader and not just a manager of people. It takes guts to be a leader, not when everything is humming along well and no problems are on the horizon, but when you are faced with challenging situations. Leadership is when you have to publicly take the blame for something your team did in order to protect their identity. Leadership is when you have to deal with team members who don’t like one another and refuse to work together. Leadership is when you are responsible for making an unpopular decision which impacts many of your team members…. I could go on.  The point being that true leadership is far less glamorous and more of an endurance event.

If you truly want to lead, take away the idea that leadership is all glory and it takes guts. The glory should go to the team for a job well done, not to the leader for helping them get there.

Growth vs. Fulfillment – What is the Difference?

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We all hear about personal growth, whether it is physical, spiritual, or work-related. I used to believe it was a pretty simple concept; you made a decision on what you wanted to do and outlined the steps to get there. This was my thought process back when I was younger and slightly naive. What I didn’t bargain for was the fact that our ideas of personal growth change over time and life experience. For example, when I graduated from college, I thought I had it all figured out. I wanted a career with a specific company where eventually, I would move up the ladder and my career would take the specific trajectory I had planned out. For the first seven years, everything worked out pretty much the way I had intended it to. I was growing, learning more every day and enjoying where my career had taken me. I felt like my personal growth was off the charts. Then, around year eight, something inside of me changed. I continued to learn and grow within my career, but I didn’t feel completely comfortable with where I was or what I was doing. I started to feel unfulfilled with my career and more importantly, my personal life.

I had achieved what I set out to do, but once I got there I had no idea what was next. Little did I know that I had tied up my entire identity with my career, and not only did I lose touch with who I was as a person, but I didn’t realize my own idea of personal growth had changed over time.

Personal growth versus personal fulfillment – are they the same thing? I looked up the definition of both words and found this interesting. Growth is based upon the idea that you are in the process of developing. The basic idea of fulfillment centers on the notion that you have accomplished something and you are satisfied. So in reality, a person could experience a high level of personal growth, yet never achieve fulfillment.

This can be a challenging idea to grasp as we all have a different definition of personal growth. Many will see it as just that – what they are doing in their personal lives to grow. Some (like my younger self) believe that personal growth is tied up with your career. Yes, there are many cases where someone experiences personal growth through their career. The trick is to understand how to tie your growth to your personal fulfillment.

Does your personal fulfillment come from your personal growth or does growth lead to fulfillment?

Respect or Fear

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Have we ever stopped to think about how our team members respond to our leadership? Do we lead by respect or fear? I remember certain leaders whom I would go to extremes to provide them with what they requested immediately as I did not want to be on the receiving end of a tirade. Or, I would get a sick feeling in my stomach when I saw their number pop up on my cell phone, wondering what was wrong now. When I reflect back on those experiences, I find it a very sad state of leadership. I felt as if I was unable to have a productive relationship with these leaders due to their style of leadership by intimidation. You did what you had to in order to stay off their radar screen. Unfortunately, most of us have encountered leaders such as these, leaders whom we feared instead of respected.

Thankfully, I have encountered just as many great leaders that I had immense admiration for due to the way they led with respect for their team. These leaders led with high regard to their team members, not a high regard for themselves. These types of leaders were easy to be around, they expected the best out of us, but did not scare us into producing excellent work. They believed in an open and collaborative environment. Having such respect for these leaders made it easy for everyone to work hard and do what was best for the organization.

I believe that leadership by intimidation occurs when a leader’s ego gets in the way. When an over-inflated self worth overshadows the purpose of leadership, this leader believes they can get the job done any way they want, even if it means belittling team members. The sad part to this line of thinking is this type of leader believes their team has great respect for them. In reality, these teams perform out of fear.

Don’t confuse leadership intimidation with leaders who are tough when they need to be. Leaders may need to exhibit a tough facade when there are issues at hand. However, it is possible to be tough without compromising the respect you have for your team members. True, your team may not enjoy having a difficult conversation with you, but having these conversations in a respectful manner shows that you care and want the best out of them.

Respect is earned, not coerced through intimidation. How do you lead?

 

Trust

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Trust – a simple word that emits strong emotions in many different ways. Why does the word “trust” forge such powerful feelings? We place our trust in many people day after day, from the school bus driver who takes our children to school to the doctor treating our illnesses. We talk about those we implicitly trust, and lash out at those we do not. Put together the word “trust” and politician and see what reaction you will get!

At the core of every interpersonal relationship is trust. It is the foundation from which we build our families, our friends, and our organizations. A strong sense of trust is needed to keep everyone moving forward toward a common goal regardless if it is a personal or professional relationship.

What happens when your trust in someone is damaged? If it is a casual acquaintance, it is pretty easy to avoid that person, in essence cutting off the relationship. Losing trust in a family member or close friend can be very difficult, but many people are more apt to try and repair the relationship since it may involve someone that you care deeply about and want as part of your life.

Losing trust in your leader creates a whole different set of challenges. Since you are gainfully employed, it is difficult to avoid contact with your leader on a day-to-day basis. And most people do not consider their leaders someone whom they are in love with or have deep feelings for (and if they do, that is a whole different issue!)

When leadership is not trusted, a team member may start to believe the common goal of the organization might just be a leader’s personal agenda, even if it is not. If a team member feels they cannot trust their leader, they feel as if they are out there on their own with no one to back them up.

Is it possible to regain trust of your leader once that trust has been violated?