Thursday, February 18, 2010

So I'm on a plane...

Over the past few years my air travel has increased significantly.  I’m no George Clooney who was banking 325,000 air miles a year in Up in the Air.  I only knock out about 55,000 miles a year.  One of the perks that come with being a frequent flier is status.  You see status is the golden ticket to traveling the right way, and last year I had it for the first time with a certain airline whose headquarters are in my lovely town of Atlanta.  One of the best parts is the free up grades.  I sit up front about 60-70% of the time now and absolutely love it. I get to board first, deplane first, enjoy actual leg room, get unlimited beverages, a much better menu of food and snacks, and have unlimited access to movies on domestic flights (after my work is done…of course!).  First class is where it’s at.  Therefore as I sit here sighing and relaxing with delight, I can’t help but think of the parallels of this great perk and leading the right way.

Leadership is service (Check out James Hunter’s classic The Servant. It’s a great leadership fable of what is at the heart of true leadership).  What I love about sitting up front is the fact that I get served like a Greek god.  Whatever I want I receive along with a, “Certainly sir” or “Absolutely, right away sir.” which just turns my crank. In fact the flight attendant just walked by asking if I want any more snacks.  I declined because I already had a banana and a Twix bar….I really don’t need another one…right?  Anyway, if we are truly leading we’re serving.  I don’t mean doing things for your crew because we have to but instead because we want to – it’s our heart’s desire.

So what would happen if I served my team like they were clients sitting in first class?  What would it look like?  I am not saying we give them what they want all the time.  What I am saying is we encourage, equip, and engage them as if they are silver, gold, platinum, or diamond status holders.  We give them our best and refuse to treat them like they sit back in coach.

Therefore I challenge every reader of this blog to do something special for their crew over the next two weeks which illustrates this powerful idea of treating people like they are airline status holders.  Please share what you did and how it was received on my Facebook page: Leadership Edge.  Good luck and happy serving!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

People Love to Love their Leader

Have you ever met someone who loves their job? Sure, we all have. Some love it because of the work – it’s what they’ve always wanted to do and they’re good at it. Others enjoy their jobs because of the flexibility it affords. But most of the people who love their jobs feel this way because of their boss. I’ve never met someone who loves their job, but hates their boss. People want to love their boss. Face it, you would love to brag to your friends and family about how cool yours is wouldn’t you? Repeat after me, “YES I WOULD!”

Odds are if you’re reading this blog you have some sort of leadership role today – someone is reporting to you or more accurately, someone is being influenced by you. Do you realize that those people want to love you? They want to enjoy coming to work each day to interact with you and make you happy. Michael Scott once said, “I want my people to love me. I also want my people to fear me. But I really want my people to love to fear me.” Okay, loving to fear you is not what I’m talking about – sorry Mikey.

This sounds so backwards doesn’t it? You can’t make your people happy all the time. This is true, but I’m not talking about pleasing your people. Do you know what draws people in? Passion, heart, honesty, vulnerability, humor, and integrity are all things that begin knitting your shop’s heart to yours. People don’t want to follow a statue and they don’t want to work for someone perfect who knows all the answers either. My boys asked me last weekend during dinner if my crew calls me, “Mr. Boss” or “Boss”. I told them that my team calls me, “David”. My boys are only 9, 5, and 4, yet they already have some preconceived notion that the boss is someone high above the people who look down on them with some pretentious title. What have I been teaching them???!!! When a team can identify with their superior and recognize (as my friend Dave VanderMolen says) their chronic humanness, bonds begin forming, and it is those bonds that aid in establishing deep-rooted motivation to perform and win every day.

What is keeping you from being a boss your people love?