“Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.”
Okay, work with me here (all of you that are not from the greater Boston Area). There is something about that sign (and every city has its own landmark). When you see the Citgo sign, you know you are in one of the greatest cities in the world and right around the corner from the legendary Fenway Park. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, brings back great memories, and is just simply awesome. Ever since I was a boy (my wife might argue that I still am one), this sign has been a back drop for the home runs over the Green Monster. Somehow that backdrop also brings good summertime memories, and for anyone who loves Boston in general, the sign has huge value.
Some of you may not be as fortunate as I am in regards to employees. My employees are probably some of the best people in the business. Both personally and professionally. They have a bounce in their step, have tremendous integrity, are hard-working, like their job, and generally are happy to be alive. Sometimes I wonder if this was orchestrated or if is just by chance that this caliber people are working side by side with me every day. Either way, I’ll take it.
I challenge all of you managers, supervisors, and executives alike. Get out of your office. Say hello to all of your people daily. Call them by name. Get to know them. Carry their burdens (to an extent) and share in their victories. Trust them. Train them. This will help you keep them. You might find this to be a secret weapon, as many employees don’t quit companies, they quit supervisors, managers, and executives.
Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
When someone who is important or has done an outstanding job leaves a position, it is said “the company has big shoes to fill.” Why? Because the person that is leaving, put their head down and made a difference. If they were in sales, they crushed it. If they were in management, people loved them and they moved the needle for the business owner. If they are in upper management, such as a VP, etc., they were well organized, helped the people in the field, and made a big difference.
In Boston’s Faneuil Hall, there is a bronze plaque with Larry Bird’s actual sized sneakers. People from all over the world, put their feet next to Larry’s to see just how big his feet were. Most of us have smaller feet than the Boston Celtic Hall-of-Famer. But it is not the size of the actual feet that matter. It is the size of the positive deficit the person leaves when exiting the company or team. If they have truly made an impact, their departure will be felt.
So, go and be the person who’s shoes will be nearly impossible to fill. Strive for big dreams, reach for what others deem impossible, and dare to achieve what others think cannot be achieved. Lift other up at all times, choose your words wisely, encourage and don’t tear down, be truthful, have impeccable ethics and grooming, be kind, and put others first. If you do, you will be the one that others speak about when they say “those are big shoes to fill”.
Now that I have your attention; there is nothing further from the truth. After spending a week traveling throughout Ireland, I can’t help myself from continually thinking about a single point. The point is this; there was no trash, or litter, or garbage of any kind — anywhere! Ireland has to be one of the cleanest places on earth. Why? Because the people of Ireland care and take responsibility for their own actions. They do not throw their trash out the window or on the ground assuming “someone else” will take care of it. No, they take responsibility for their own trash and take pride in their land.
Driving on country roads or major highways, you could not spot any litter. Walking the streets of Dublin; same thing — clean. Walking the beach on the Celtic sea, there were plenty of shells and rocks, but no bottles, plastic, fast food bags, etc. Walking through the crowded streets of Galway — spotless.
The point is, when will we as Americans take pride in our country? When will we take ownership of our own trash and actually stoop down to pick up someone else’s forgotten litter? I long for a day where our country is clean and well taken care of — not by the government, the neighbor, the teacher, or someone else — but by each of us the people. Let’s get it together Americans. Make America Clean Again!
My colleague was asked by one of his employees, “what do I have to do to get a raise?” This is a very interesting question in general. The mentality that is needed to get ahead at work, in a marriage, in a relationship, financially, spiritually, and more, is — whatever it takes. It is not a simple: do x and y and a raise will follow. It is having a commitment to excellence all day; every day. As it relates to a career, some people seem to need a roadmap, and sometimes they actually want a promotion before they are willing to do more. How can the boss promote someone who has not shown they are capable of operating at the next level? I believe a boss, a manager, partner, share-holder, etc. need to see consistency. Once consistent effort is shown and results are created, it is impossible for someone not to notice and offer you a promotion, or a raise. If you work on commission, your raise will be the additional income you create by doing the right things.
My advice is this; whatever endeavor you are looking to get ahead in, put your head down and work hard. Study your craft, your product, and your competition. Spend time Practicing the things you will need to perform. Desire to grow & learn. And most importantly — don’t stop. A dog is conditioned to performing a trick and then being rewarded. In life, we are not dogs. There is no reward after doing one thing. We must do many things over and over and over again. If there is seemingly no reward; find a way to do it better and do it over and over and over again. Eventually, your head will stick above the crowd and you will be noticed. Just remember it is never a one and done event. It is a life-time commitment to being the best you can be.
Last night, my wife and I saw Michael Buble in concert. As expected, he and his entourage were spectacular! But, the thing that jumped out at me was his overall attitude and the attitude of his supporting cast. It appeared that he was having the time of his life. He was full of life and his continuous smile was contagious. He also went to great lengths to high-five the fans or to make eye contact with as many people as he possibly could. He seemed genuinely appreciative of the fans and we were left feeling as though the room got really small because of the level of intimacy that he brought to the show. His band was also having the time of their life, or so it appeared. At one point in the show, all of the musicians were dancing when they were not playing their instruments. They could have been personally having a bad day, but each of them set it aside and yielded to the audience and showed us a great time. So much so, that each of us will tell everyone we know how great a Michael Buble concert is.
What happens at your place of business? Whether you are a school teacher, an attorney, a doctor, a clergy member, a salesperson, or a union steward; one thing rings true — we create our environment by our attitude — good or bad. Attitude is a choice. We choose to smile or frown, scowl or laugh, complain or compliment, encourage or discourage. Do we put our personal feelings aside and choose to express an attitude synonymous to the Michael Buble concert? I am suggesting that if we do, our guests will be telling everyone they know that they need to do business with us — with you.
I encourage all of us to work on keeping our personal lives out of the spotlight and show an amazing attitude in all situations. Remember; it is not what happens to us, rather how we handle it. Most of things we complain about today will add up to very little tomorrow. So, why not just hold our tongue and be thankful it isn’t worse. When we handle a bad situation with a good attitude, the situation all of a sudden does not seem so bad. There is always someone else bearing a much bigger cross than we are. Therefore, let’s march forward with Michael Buble’s attitude. It might just shine some light to those around us that need it desperately.
There was a day not so long ago, when men would wear a shirt and tie to a ball game and ladies would wear a dress everywhere they went. I am thankful that this is not the case today, especially when I am wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt on my day off.
If you are a professional and work in a professional environment, where attire matters, act the part. Invest in you. Just because someone else wears their favorite football team’s hat; someone else wears their slippers; or someone else doesn’t comb their hair in the office, does not make it ok for you to do so also. In sales, our job is not to accentuate our individuality, rather to connect with our customer in a way that inspires their likes and desires. Looking shabby on a sales floor turns a professional customer off, and does little to make your case that you should be their consultant. Like it or not, you are judged by your customers. When we dress as an average professional; we look good, we are more confident, and most importantly, the customer is not wasting their time pre-judging our life before they make a buying decision.
There is a time and place for everything. Wearing non-professional attire in a professional workplace is out of place and does not give the best first impressions. Wearing a tie in a swimming pool is just as out of place as wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt in a professional environment; but for some reason, society continues to blur the lines of social etiquette in every area. Don’t have an intentional wardrobe malfunction. Look the part; act the part; and set yourself up to have the results the position requires.
It has been told that most people learn in one of three ways. First, people learn visually. They need to see it. You can talk to them all day long but if they can’t see something, they are likely to retain nothing. Next, are kinesthetic learners. These are the “feel it, touch it” people (and the highest percentage of people learn this way). Lastly, are auditory learners. You guessed it; they learn from hearing. Auditory learners are only 25% of the population. Coincidently, the other 75% miss the instruction when they are being told what to do.
Many mangers and even some leaders “tell” people what to do and how to do it. Then they become frustrated that the very people they are “telling” over and over, are not learning what they are telling them. Some of their telling often includes specific instructions on how to “do” something. Somehow the managers and leaders feel that if they tell them enough, they will most likely get it. Most likely not.
Attention Managers and leaders–Effective managers and leaders teach the way their people learn. I would venture to say that if only 25% of the people learn by hearing, then we need to begin to teach differently than just lecturing. Show them. Show them what is expected and then ask them to repeat it back. If there is a task involved, ask them to perform the task the way you expect them to perform it. I guarantee that they will not perform it the way you want it done the first time. That will be the indicator for you to continue to work with them until they get it right. Considering most people learn by doing, you will need to make them “do” until you are satisfied that they will bear the result that you desire.
If you are speaking to a few people (or to thousands) with information only, PowerPoint works great because it covers the visual learner, the auditory learners for sure. But if you are in need for people to “do” something, you will need to roll up your sleeves and spend time with each person “doing”. By doing so, you will increase your team’s productivity and they will have more respect for you as a leader or manager. In todays business world, you won’t have much competition. After all, osmosis is an epidemic these days, as leaders and managers only seem to talk, and talk, and talk some more.
Probably the safest place for a child is in the womb. The temperature is perfect, there is no separation anxiety, and the child is automatically fed first when the mother eats.
If you are a leader in your career, civic group, church or synagogue, a little league coach, a yoga instructor, or any other type of leader from a vast list, are the people that you lead safe?
Is the temperature perfect? Meaning; are you aware of the climate of the room in regards to relationships? Are you consciously making sure your people feel welcomed? Are you aware of body language? Body language screams a statement. It either states; I am comfortable; I am uncomfortable; I feel left out; or I feel welcomed. It does not matter one bit what you think. Someone else’s perception is reality. Leaders scan the room. Leaders are inclusive. Leaders build others up. Leaders recognize everyone.
Is there separation anxiety in the group that you lead? Or are you are more concerned with how you feel, rather than how your flock feels? What is their body language screaming to you? Are their arms crossed? That usually means “I am blocking you out” or “I disagree with you.” Is there little to no eye contact? That can mean “I do not trust you” or “I feel poorly about something in this setting”. Either way, leaders recognize the concern and then go to work to fix it.
Does the child automatically feed when the leader does? This could be physically and emotionally/spiritually. Physically, do you go last when there is food being served? Do you ensure all of your team has eaten or had a drink before you help yourself? Emotional and spiritually, do you have your team in mind when teaching? Are you concerned for their well-being and growth or only how you feel about the message? Do you follow-up after hearing of a concern? Are you humble enough to create an environment of transparency, even if you do not like the feedback? More over, do you act to change the reality.
Leaders lead. Great leaders ensure their people are safe.