A few weeks ago I was on a networking call with a CEO of a creative, branding agency. Our chat was…
- 30 minutes long
- Focused on leadership philosophy
- And sprinkled with moments of learning
Kenny’s energy and passion for making sure diverse voices and people are seen and heard was infectious! I loved that he shared his leadership recipe: without people there is no business / radical candor / and a relentless drive to build, improve, and grow his people and business. But what really impressed me: he shared where he needed to improve.
From confession… to conversation… to change
Even though this was our first time meeting, he shared: I need to be better at taking a moment to celebrate accomplishments. Apparently this was a recent lesson learned. Kenny’s COO (I believe) excitedly shared how the team smashed all the targets set for them… only to have Kenny unintentionally deflate the excitement by responding with: awesome… so what’s next?!
Good for the COO to speak up (#radicalcandor) and say: you know… I don’t need constant pats on the back… but an occasional “good job” goes a long way – and I need that. SO cool that Kenny took that feedback… processed it… and, with a total stranger, exhibited accountability by saying it out loud. LOVED that!!
At that point I offered a suggestion – an exercise in being present and offering recognition or feedback that takes just a minute each day. Leaders I’ve coached get spun from one meeting to the next… are on constant overdrive… and that can lead to unintentionally disconnecting with their people. Kenny is a huge believer in bringing in great talent, developing and retaining them… so maybe this exercise can serve to reinforce that commitment.
The exercise? It’s an analog throwback so if you’re heavy into texting or electronic communication you’re not gonna be thrilled. Ok, now that you’ve been warned…
- Once a day, take a minute to think of something specific someone did or said that contributed positively to you / your work / a project / etc.
- On an actual piece of paper, and in just one or two quick sentences, write down that specific action or statement
- Write down why it was impactful
- Say “thank you” / “great job” / whatever is appropriate…
- And then send it off! Yup – snail mail… interoffice mail… whatever old-school, analog system it is, just send it.
A little goes a long way
The value for the sender: building your “be present” muscle… acknowledging a moment of value… and connecting as a human with a human.
The value for the receiver: an unexpected surprise (and who doesn’t like a surprise?!)… a tangible evidence of an investment to time and thought that was specific to me… I am seen, I am heard, I can build trust.
In my corporate life the term “change management” was over-used… triggered stress and eye-rolling… and was presented as a highly orchestrated, complicated, cumbersome process. I believe change can happen with small, specific, and authentic actions. Investing the time – even if just a few minutes – to acknowledge what others do well is a gift that keeps on giving. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly change (cultural change in this case) can happen if you just take a minute… be honest… and be consistent. Give my analog process a shot. Let me know how it works for you!