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!
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.
As the saying goes, I get by with a little help from my friends…..or my husband! Insightful thoughts on needs vs. wants by EJ Widun.
While you are at work, do you try to give people what they want? If you are, you are probably not meeting their needs to the max. People will often struggle to verbalize what they actually need. They will explain what they are looking for or what they may want, but it is up to you to apply the “magic” to this list of requirements. The “magic” comes from you taking a step back, thinking like your customer, applying your special skills and techniques to deliver an excellent service or solution. If you do this, the client will be happy because they got what they needed not just what they want.
Let’s look at a simple example of getting what you need mattering more than what you want. I am sure that all of us have gone through a drive-thru and placed an order. Of course, you expect the order to be correct and that you received what you ordered. How much better is your experience when you go into the bag and find all the added amenities that you forgot to request? It could be condiments, extra napkins, a wet napkin. It makes your experience so much better, and you may not even realize it. This is a result of the people behind the counter hearing your order, giving you what you asked for and adding what you need to the equation. This may not seem like a big deal until you need those little extras. The little things matter too, so next time make sure you take the time to apply yourself to the customer’s situation and make their experience extraordinary.
I would like to share this post from a guest blogger, EJ Widun. Besides sharing my passion for Servant Leadership and customer service, he is also my better half!
On a recent family vacation, we were commuting to Naples from Orlando. After an early start from Orlando, we decided to make a rest stop and get some food at a fast food restaurant off the highway. It was 10:20 AM. According to the sign, the breakfast menu does not stop until 10:30 but our children prefer lunch instead of breakfast. I figured I would ask the young lady at the counter if it was possible to get a hamburger instead of breakfast. She looked at what was prepared behind her and noticed some burgers were up. She said sure no problem with a huge smile. I finished paying the bill and stepped to the side to wait for my order. While there, the store manager confronted the young lady. I don’t know if she realized it was my order or not, but the manager said to the young woman: “Who told you we could serve burgers now? Did you ask me? I don’t think so. You never serve anything off of menu without asking me!” The young woman replied with a sheepish response of: “I saw burgers up already and wrapped so I thought it was ok.” The manager snapped back: “You don’t think. You ask me and I will let you know. Is that clear?”
I was amazed and stunned by the reaction of a “customer-friendly” fast food establishment. The young lady at the counter did everything possible to make the visit as satisfying as possible; while the manager did not care and berated the poor customer focused team member.
This manager is clearly not a leader. She had no clue of what it takes to make a successful customer experience or making a team member feel good about taking initiative. As a leader, you should never publicly berate a team member over a customer’s order. So many missteps in what should have been a simple transaction. My experience at this restaurant not only impacted this trip but my opinion of the brand. So sad that a manager could not foster a positive experience, she not only damaged her own identity but the identity of the brand as well.