Several weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal there was an interesting article titled “She’s One Step Ahead.”
It told the story of a factory leader, Elizabeth Kaplan, and how she decided to join her employees on a strenuous set of Los Angeles stairs during lunch. She believed that sharing a workout with her team would create a stronger connection with them.
I love leaders like her! She was only one of three women on her team of 60, and as a boss, she was finding it difficult to connect.
When she found out that many of the men on her large team were exercising during lunch, she decided to join them. And because of her lead she motivated a number of others on her team to join as well. Every lunch hour they climb the “Culver City Stairs,” 282 steps that form a steep climb.
Her team that is joining her is not only building personal connections, but also enjoying greater health and more energy. One worker said, “Now that I started doing the stairs, I feel healthier and have a lot more energy. And when Elizabeth joins us we all seem to laugh a lot more.”
What are you doing to create opportunities for you and your team to spend time together?
When teammates get to know each other (including the leader), they start caring more about each other. As they start caring more about each other, they start becoming more vulnerable. As a result of greater vulnerability, trust increases which leads to stronger communication and better teamwork.
If you want a greater connection with your team, I would suggest finding a trail and taking your team for a walk or jog. Or at the very least find something you can all do together that is away from work.
Teams that spend time together, stay together.
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I watched an interesting video the other day (see below). Spanx CEO Sara Blakely tells of how her father used to ask her and her brother at the dinner table when she was growing up what they had failed at that week.
When they shared a failure, he would congratulate them and give them a high-five! I love that!
I have come to believe and recognize in my own leadership that failure is only bad if it is more than a temporary set-back. It is only bad if we aren’t learning, making adjustments and trying again. If we punish ourselves and others for their mistakes, then we do indeed fail—both in the present and in the future.
After all, as I have heard it said, the quickest way to success is to fail as fast as you can.
What would that look like on your team? Can you high-five someone on your team this year for taking a risk that didn’t work out? Can you high-five someone else for missing a deadline? Can you high-five a member of your team for stretching themselves on an assignment that didn’t go as well as you wished?
I believe you can. As long as you follow it up with the questions, “What did you learn?” and “What will you do differently next time?”
Creating an environment where people feel safe to fail will result in greater creativity and better results in 2018. Leaders have the power to create a celebrated mistake zone (not mistake-free zone) culture with their teams. As long as members of their team are growing, learning and improving, what’s the harm?
Start with you this year. Start admitting your failures in front of your team. Vulnerability creates incredible trust on teams. But also follow up your failures by talking about what you learned from them.
I would love to hear what you think. Is it okay to high-five a member of your team in 2018 for failing?
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Spanx CEO Sara Blakely offers advice to redefine failure - YouTube
Many of the members of teams I have worked with in my career have done a really good job of pointing fingers at leaders and other teammates, but have failed to ever point them at themselves when it comes to team issues.
Have you found the same thing?
A number of years ago I was working with a team as a consultant, where every finger on the team was pointing at the leader and blaming her for every issue the team was having. This was expressed to me multiple times, both in private and in our team development sessions. I had never seen anything like it at that level before or since.
One thing that became really clear as I met with members of this team and the leader, was that no one was looking at themselves and asking how they might be contributing to the problem. The real issues on this team had as much to do with this leader as it had to do with each member of that team.
The transformation of a team starts with the transformation of every member of the team. Whether you are the leader of a team or a teammate, it always starts with you. Every member of every team has to ask themselves what they can do to make the team better.
Each member of the team needs to take careful introspective inventory on a regular basis.
When is the last time you and your team took a careful look in the mirror? When is the last time you and your team asked questions like: What am I contributing to the team today? What do I have the potential to contribute that I am not? How committed am I to the team? What have I done to demonstrate my commitment? What will I do differently moving forward?
Ask your team at your next meeting or event to start thinking about these questions. Maybe even discuss their reaction to these questions and share as they feel they are comfortable in sharing.
As you and members of your team begin to make a personal transformation, your team will also begin to transform in magical ways. It has to start from the inside out though.
You Are the Team!
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There is an old Welsh fable told of a dog that belonged to Llywelyn the Great, a Prince of Gwynedd in the 13th century. Prince Llywelyn’s wife had passed away, and his faithful dog was charged with watching the cradle of the Prince’s baby while the Prince was gone hunting.
After one particular hunting trip, Prince Llywelyn returned home to find his baby’s cradle overturned. With his baby missing and his dog’s mouth covered with blood, the Prince plunged his sword into the dog with the idea that it had killed his baby.
The dog’s dying yelp was answered by a child’s cry. Prince Llywelyn searched and found the baby, unharmed and laying near the dead body of a mighty wolf. The Prince’s dog had actually protected the baby as his owner had desired.
It is said that the Prince was filled with such remorse that he never smiled again.
This story makes a good point, though a fairly dramatic one: making quick judgments and jumping to conclusions can lead to regrets—sometimes very large regrets. Unfortunately, it is all too common to tell ourselves stories without all of the facts. Instead of seeking to understand, we often seek first to condemn.
On a team, the ugly consequences of such quick judgments can result in the creation of team clicks and less team unity—which, like the dog in the story, can quickly lead to a team’s demise.
With those teams you belong to or those you lead, have you found jumping to conclusions to be a barrier to your effectiveness? What can you do to prevent such quick judgments? Would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.
The story above can be found in my new Amazon bestselling book You Are the Team—6 Simple Ways Teammates Can Go from Good to Great. You can get it on Amazon here.
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The following post is from Guest Mark Macy. This post is intended for leaders of teams and organizations who sell products and/or services.
We all have heard that local businesses are shutting down due to the explosion of online sales. Their explanation is that they just cannot compete. Is it really true?
For those of you who are leading teams where customer service is key, let’s take a close look and pull from Santa’s leadership to glean what CAN BE DONE to enjoy a Merry Christmas of Success.
When I shop online, I enjoyed the following advantages:
1) I get to do it in the comfort of my home—no traffic; I don’t have to go outside in the crowds or the weather.
2) I get immediate help via chat and search capabilities.
3) I get price comparisons.
4), I get free shipping (with tracking of my package online) to my home.
I have learned to enjoy this shopping experience.
So, how does a brick and mortar store compete? SANTA says, “Customer Experience IS THE KEY!”
According to Dimensional Research, 52% of customers continued to use more products or services from a company after having a positive customer experience, and 51% recommended the company to others. Likewise, a bad customer service experience resulted in 59% of customers ceasing business with that company, and 55% going to a competitor.
Within in the past few days, I was looking to purchase a new pair of glasses. I was looking for a particular color. I had made contact with a local business who shared that they had what I wanted. I decided to go look. I called them and asked them what was a good time, etc. When I arrived, I walked in and they immediately looked up and said, “Are you the guy looking for the “color” glasses?” I responded “Yes” and they said you can look over there. For nearly 20 mins I looked around waiting on someone to come help. No one came. Interesting enough, there were at least three employees in the area. Some were helping others, but never a single word of acknowledgement that someone would eventually be with me—no smile, nothing.
I walked out and ended up purchasing my glasses at another place that provided me with a great customer experience. More importantly, I ended up buying another color of glasses, despite my heart being set on my original dreamed color.
Santa reminds us that Customers are people who have needs, and in many cases money to spend. Without customers, there is no way to pay the bills AND salaries of your elves.
Every single person who comes into your establishment is important. And no one knows who is going to purchase $1 worth of stuff or $1,000,000 of merchandise.
SANTA would add that choosing your elves carefully and ensuring that they understand this truth is critical to continued success. And yes, if they don’t buy in, you might have some tough choices to make.
Here are a few key items that need to be on your Customer Experience Checklist to embark with your team, courtesy of Santa’s wisdom, that will help you prevent the “Black Friday blues”.
SMILE — “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” ―Jay Danzie
Put Away Cell Phone & Idle “Chit Chat” — Nothing is more rude than employees checking their phones or who are more interested in visiting with fellow workers than helping customers.
Go the Extra Mile — First, be proactive in observing your customers and ask them if they need help. Second, walk them over to where the product is—don’t just tell them and assume they will find it. Third, share with them information about the product they asked about and inquire about their intended use, so you can share alternatives in options, price, etc. Fourth, do everything possible to satisfy the customer — they will honor your efforts.
Inspect What You Expect — You not only need to express your expectations, BUT you need to personally observe, coach, and correct where necessary. Customer Service is just a joke if this step is not taken seriously. Managers’, you must be proactive and private in your approach to coach and/or correct. Be Specific, Sincere, and Timely in your delivery.
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