Podcast Episode 10 Transcript:
Welcome to Episode 10 of Grow For It! This is a podcast for small business owners, managers and professionals. I’m Jim, and my goal is to work in the space between your ears – you know on your mindset – to help you move closer towards your Vision.
Today’s topic is Leading with Gratitude. It’s the art of inspiring loyalty and performance through a simple, but important, action.
Before we get started, let’s review where we’ve been. In Episode 9, we discussed Avoiding Negative Influences. I shared a personal story about how I had to rebound from a negative influence in my own life. I recommended several tips anyone can use to prevent negative influences from derailing your career and having a lasting impact on your life.
In the next few minutes, we’re going to discuss how you can have an impact as a leader, if you’ll add a simple activity to your week. So, if you’re ready, Let’s Grow For It!
Have you ever met or worked with someone who just seem to make you feel better about yourself? There was probably a reason you wanted to perform at your best level for this person. Often, it’s because we know how much our personal efforts mean to that person. There’s a connection; a willingness to go the extra mile. Think about how that makes you feel. What does that do for your self-worth? Your commitment? Your overall satisfaction?
Now, think about the last time a boss or coworker seemed to take you for granted. Regardless of how hard you tried, the hours you devoted or the results you delivered, it was never enough. That person considered you just another wrung on the ladder to THEIR success. Remember how that made you feel? Remember what it was like day in and day out?
Close your eyes for a minute. Imagine the vast difference in what it would be like to work for that inspirational leader for whom you wanted to perform versus what I’ll call that “perspiration leader” who only seems to take your blood, sweat and tears for granted.
Now, keep your eyes closed for this next question: Which leader are you?
I’m going to let that question hang there for a minute. Some of you listening might be tempted to avoid answering the question because you’re not leading an organization. But remember, you can still have a similar impact by the way you choose to treat your colleagues, your customer service reps, even your clients or customers.
Years ago, I ready book titled Lions Don’t Need to Roar. It was written by D. A. Benton and is still available on Amazon. Its subtitle is “Using the Leadership Power of Professional Presence to Stand Out, Fit In and Move Ahead.” I’ll put a link to it in the notes for this podcast, on my website at JimRayConsultingServices.com/podcasts.
The takeaway is you still have the capability to differentiate yourself by the way you present yourself on a daily basis. Regardless of whether or not you have an official title, you can still inspire and raise the bar for everyone around you.
Those personal connections you establish by how you interact with people will go a long way in contributing to your personal success. In a few minutes, we’ll talk about a simple activity you can do to inspire and motivate.
In late 2004, I went to work for a national marketing firm called FindLaw. We sold Internet marketing solutions to law firms. I had very little experience Internet marketing, other than I previously had P&L responsibility for our online sales in a management capacity for a regional distributor. This new company had a fantastic training program. More importantly, though, I was fortunate to go to work for an extremely talented manager, Jonathan Whitacre. JW was the inspirational leader I needed as I started a new phase of my career.
Jonathan has a way of sensing when something is working and when it isn’t. He knows exactly how to pinpoint problems, while helping you to both acknowledge and work toward consistent improvement. He’s the type of manager who adds value in every interaction. JW and I both left FindLaw after several successful years. I always look back fondly to playing a role on “Team Pinnacle” as he called us.
Jonathan’s gone on to become a Vice President at Ethisphere. It’s a corporate ethics company, where he continues to have a successful impact on the people around him. We still keep in touch through phone calls and LinkedIn.
Even this many years later, I look back on that experience has one of the highlights of my career. That my friends, is the impact an inspirational leader can have on an individual, a team and on the organization at large. Have you worked for this type of leader? I hope you have. More importantly, I hope we each become one.
Earlier in this episode, I challenged you to answer whether you were an inspirational leader, or a “perspirational” leader. I agree, there are times when a leader needs to be firm on direct reports and others. When appropriate, an aggressive leader may get more out of someone than maybe that individual thought possible.
However, that heavy-handed approach also has the ability to crush the spirit or grind someone down so far, they simply give up. I believe in doing everything possible to hit the numbers, but not at the cost of becoming a cancer to the organization.
One of the primary questions I once asked a hiring manager was simply, “What do you celebrate in this organization?”
I wanted to get a sense of whether this manager celebrated his own success because his team was performing, or whether he was inclined to share the spotlight with the team actually delivering the numbers for the organization. Words mean things and you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she answers certain questions.
Practical Exercise for Leading with Gratitude
Let’s take a few minutes to discuss how we can begin having a larger impact by Leading with Gratitude. Remember, as the book says, “Lions Don’t Have to Roar.” As usual, it’s time to take out a sheet of paper.
Using your pen, divide the sheet into 4 equal sections. This is similar to what we did in Episode 3 when we discussed using a SWOT analysis. In the top left quadrant, title it “Direct Reports” and draw a box around it. In the top right quadrant, title it “Secondary Reports.” Again, draw a box around it. Secondary reports would be members just outside of your direct reports. These are some of the people who report to your team. Don’t worry if your organization isn’t that large. You’ll begin to see the concept.
Title bottom left quadrant “Supporting Cast” and draw a box around it. This quadrant will be for customer service reps, field reps or others who have an impact on the organization, but might not be in your area of responsibility.
Finally, title the bottom right quadrant “Clients” or “Customers.” Draw a box around this as well.
I want you to begin filling in names, based on the classification of each box. Hopefully, this will take a few minutes. If you’re actively engaged in your organization, you’ll have plenty of names to add.
Now, this is the activity I recommend you implement on a weekly basis. Pick four names, one from each quadrant and write a personal note to each person. A simple Thank You card or sheet of company letterhead will work. Resist the temptation to email or text your comments. There’s something much more personal to a hand-written note. Believe it or not, I’ve seen some of them framed and hanging on the walls of offices.
The objective is to consistently write 4 notes. People thirst for recognition. You might be surprised by the impact of this simple action. Even if you’re currently not in a leadership role, a personal note thanking someone in a different department will still have an impact.
As you begin to go through the list of names in each quadrant, take time to add people. Obviously, you might exhaust the names of your direct reports. If that’s so, start looking for more names for the Secondary and Supporting Cast quadrants.
We’re all working hard to achieve company objectives and meet quotas. The pressure can lull us into a sense of tunnel vision where we forget that an organization runs on its people.
A simple gesture of gratitude can act as a pressure relief valve. It can also re-energize an individual whose performance might be overlooked.
Remember how it felt when you were remembering that inspirational leader? Maybe that personal is still having an impact on your performance today. Gratitude is a successful component of a Leader’s mindset. Don’t be afraid to show it, often. When people think back on their own experiences, which type of leader to you want to be considered?
Friends, that’s it for this episode. As always, allow me to take a second to thank you for taking the time to listen to me discuss Leading with Gratitude. I hope you found it insightful and worth your time.
Previous episodes of this podcast, as well as podcasts of my small business radio show are available on my website JimRayConsultingServices.com. You can also find them on iTunes. Just type my company name in the podcast search bar. While I try to limit each of the Grow For It podcast to less than 10 minutes in duration, my radio show features interviews lasting about an hour.
As we close, remember, there’s no time like the present to begin Leading with Gratitude, especially if you want to be remembered as an inspirational leader. When you’re ready, Let’s Grow For It!