Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hopeful - The 5 Hope Fillers (Part 2)

A few days ago we talked about the first Hope Filler – Filler Leadership.  These leaders rock!  They bring it and fill their shops with hope every day by how they lead and live.  Filler Leaders inspire those around them believing that a better reality is right around the corner.  It reminds me of the Carousel of Progress at Disney World.  Do you remember that ride? You go from one scene to the next over about 25 minutes.  Each scene shows what life was like during that point in time and how mankind had worked to make life easier and more efficient.  When the scene was over it would transition to the next and the characters would sing the same song with the line, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.”  That’s the idea, and it’s the anthem of Filler Leaders everywhere.

Fixate on “The Controllables”

Many leaders get bent out of shape and worried about issues that are outside of their sphere of influence.  You can’t control whether a customer goes bankrupt, a key employee leaves for a different opportunity, or the economy tanks, but you can decide your attitude and how you handle those blows internally.  Hope can be mined in virtually any situation as long as you choose to do the heavy lifting to go after it.  Your team looks to you as the barometer of hope and will base their feelings off of how you handle challenges; especially ones that have the potential for deep, negative impact.  Fixate on “The Controllables” – not what’s out of your hands.

Fight for Balance

This is an area my team and I have battled through together over the past few months.  In order to have a positive environment and get the most out of everyone, you must fight to give your team the tools for a healthy work-life balance.  This means that you are staffed appropriately and you’re being as efficient as possible so Johnny Worker isn’t there till 11pm every night trying to stay caught up.  At the same time, you can’t make personal decisions for people, but you can create an environment that encourages it.  Now I understand this is completely counter intuitive in today’s business environment, but sometimes you’ve got to flip some things upside down to get a better result.  Your people need you to model, and stress balance.

Fan the Flame of Unselfish Teamwork

Reward the behaviors you want to see repeated.  A big one is unselfish teamwork.  People want to work in environments where everyone is sold out and serving each other.  Pat Lencioni highlighted this beautifully in his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  When people exchange their personal agendas for the results of the team, their level of hope begins to sky rocket UP.  How can you help drive and reward that kind of teamwork?

Face it! Your Smile Makes a Difference

Believe it or not, your facial expressions go a LONG WAY.  When I walk around my office with a scowl my crew immediately thinks there’s something wrong.  Many times I’m intensely focused on a task or a thought; so I don't even realize I'm doing it.  I have to make a conscious effort to display my positive nature on my face, make a few people laugh, and embody other upbeat signs because it puts my team at ease, which directly impacts their effectiveness and ultimately their hopefulness.  Smiling isn’t that hard is it?

So there you go – the 5 Hope Fillers.  How many do you use today?  How many do you need to start using?  Hope is a powerful tool.  Don’t be concerned about being perceived as soft, touchy-feely, or clueless.  Use it and be the beacon of hope your team needs in the toughest of times. They’ll thank you for it.