leadership dot #2440: rock you

I can’t say that I am a big Queen fan, but, like most people, I can stomp my feet and clap in the appropriate places during the song We Will Rock You. What surprised me when I saw the movie Bohemian Rhapsody was that the addition of these participative elements was intentional – put there specifically to create a role in the song for audiences.

After noticing that fans were singing along at concerts, the band decided that they should write music to intentionally engage their audience and scripted music that called out for specific clapping or stomping at designated places. Queen was a pioneer in this area and their fan engagement helped to solidify their legacy and enduring presence on the music scene.

Think about whether there are moments in your organization’s programs that may now have spontaneous client involvement but could be strengthened with intentionality. Could you add targeted participation in a church service beyond the usual rote responses or songs? Is there an opportunity to allow clients to make something and have a tangible takeaway from a conference or workshop? Can you create places where clients interact with a mascot or photo booth in your establishment? Or maybe it’s something as simple as leaving out Post-its or a blank wall where those who pass by can add comments.

Try one thing today that invites someone else to rock with you.

leadership dot #2439: statesmen

If it feels like President’s Day revolves more around mattress sales than a true tribute to the chief executives, it comes as no surprise to those who proposed the date. Originally celebrated separately as Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s birthday, the Uniform Holiday Act combined the two and designated the third Monday in February as the new date.

Even at the bill’s inception, lawmakers realized that creating more three-day weekends would have residual benefits beyond reflection on the persons the holiday honored. According to the History Channel, “while some argued that shifting holidays from their original dates would cheapen their meaning, the bill also had widespread support from both the private sector and labor unions and was seen as a surefire way to bolster retail sales.”

So today, as you head out to participate in commerce if you have the day off, take a moment to reflect on the service of those statesmen on your currency. Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson and Franklin all played an influential role to lay the foundation that has kept our democracy alive for two centuries.

Do something today to make note of their sacrifices and legacy besides shopping for a mattress. Here are some fun facts to get you started.



leadership dot #2438: close knit

Pantone, the company that specializes in color, has recently found a way to share its expertise in a new market. Pantone has paired with Caron yarn and now offers a new selection of yarn that comes pre-packaged in a color palette – pairing shades that the average person may not have combined, but that Pantone knows will make a beautiful product.

Caron could have made its own mix of colors, but instead relied on the credibility of Pantone to add a distinction over other generic yarn offerings. It seems like a wise move for both companies.

Who is an expert outside your field that could enhance your organization? Maybe it’s time you knit your interests together in a colorful partnership.

leadership dot #2437: two stars

I recently stayed in an older hotel and it really brought to light how much facilities have evolved:

I needed to move the nightstand to access an electrical outlet.
There was no refrigerator, coffeemaker or mini-bar.
The television was modest sized and did not provide access to premium channels.
The towels weren’t plush and the cosmetics weren’t designer brands.

It was a clean hotel and provided satisfactory accommodation for one night – something that would have been the standard just a few years ago. Now the landscape has changed as facilities continue one-upmanship of adding more and more amenities to attract travelers.

Assess your organization from the eyes of someone new. Are the basics that you provide still an industry standard or have you experienced entropy over time? Do you have a feature that sets your organization apart or have others caught up to your innovations? Do your customer-facing facilities or publications look tired?

It’s one thing to intentionally plan to be a two-star hotel and target that market, but another thing entirely to be a four-star hotel that has fallen behind. Take a moment and candidly assess how many stars your organization would earn today.

leadership dot #2436: 1:1

I have always been a big believer in the value of meeting with your employees one-to-one. My mantra was that updates could happen informally in the hallway, but for real professional development to take place there needed to be scheduled meetings that went beyond the nuts and bolts of daily operations.

In my supervisor workshops, I frequently encounter supervisors who wonder what there is to talk about if it isn’t about logistical items or tasks. Here is a list of topics that I have shared:

  • New skills to develop
  • Interests that aren’t being utilized
  • Biggest challenges
  • Long-term thoughts on what could be done
  • Evaluation/debriefing of recent activities
  • What changes could be made to the supervisor/supervisee relationship
  • What could be stopped/eliminated
  • Lessons from something read/listened to/learned lately
  • What is good that can be made great
  • Feedback/progress since the last evaluation
  • What’s the next milestone
  • WHY are you doing XYZ
  • Why are you NOT doing XYZ
  • What do they wish they had the time/resources to do but aren’t
  • How is their staff doing/how to help your employee supervise
  • The organization’s strategic plan – what is it, how can they tie in
  • What is a priority
  • How to effectively deploy resources, what resources matter most to them
  • Ask: “How can I help you be successful?

I believe there is no better use of your time than to have these types of discussions with those whom you supervise. Make it a priority to meet one-to-one with your staff on a regular (dare I say weekly) basis. Start today by scheduling time on your calendar for this critical capacity-building function.

leadership dot #2435: languages

On this Valentine’s Day, you may be wondering how to express your love to those you care about. Author Gary Chapman can help! He has defined five Love Languages that identify preferred ways of receiving affection. Knowing your preferred “Love Language” and that of others may help you to communicate in a way that is most meaningful.

A simple quiz can help you understand which of the five Love Languages resonate most deeply with you:

  • Acts of Service: Having someone offer to help and ease your burden
  • Quality Time: Someone being present and giving you their full attention
  • Receiving Gifts: Receiving a thoughtful token gift that is tailored to your interests
  • Physical Touch: Hugs or literal pats on the back
  • Words of Affirmation: Hearing someone share why they love you or why you are important

Chapman has also adapted his languages as a guide for how people can express appreciation to others. In his 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, he offers suggestions on how to apply the concepts to show gratitude to coworkers in a way that resonates with them. The quiz could be a fun icebreaker to discuss at your next staff meeting.

Whether or not you know someone’s preferred Language, it’s important to remember that different people favor different ways of receiving affection or appreciation from you. Become conscious of how you deliver your sentiments and mix up the ways you show others you care.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, 2009
5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White, 2011

leadership dot #2434: refund

The news lately has carried several stories about people lamenting that their tax refund is much smaller than usual. For some people, the total amount of taxes paid could be equivalent or less than the aggregate tax paid in previous years, but how it is paid – and thus, the amount of refund earned – is really what is at issue.

Employers, marketers and others should note this phenomenon and incorporate lessons from it into their policies and behaviors. A little payment over a long time doesn’t amount to much in the mind of the payee – but it does accumulate (such as in a retirement plan). The converse is true – that a little increase in pay doesn’t seem significant in the employee’s mind – but a bonus check with the same amount in one lump sum seems to have more heft and buying power. A small, incremental improvement isn’t noticed but one large renovation or change creates enhanced impact.

If a small difference seems to be swallowed up in the scope of the whole, people should use this to their advantage. Do small things that add up to good and you won’t notice it or hold back small rewards until they become a big win and gain more from the same amount.