Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Company Picnic

Ah...the company picnic. Fond memories of fried chicken, hard dry burgers, 15 varieties of potato salad, a dish with melted marshmallows on top, a mystery casserole, and some wrinkled burned hotdogs.

And lots of employees with their families.

Sometimes leaders are reluctant to attend this traditional summer event (also the holiday party close to the end of the year). Other leaders look forward to these events to move the organization forward.

Why the different perspective? The benefit of attending these events may not be immediately obvious – it wasn't to me.

First thing on Monday morning after the company picnic, my boss found me and asked why I wasn't at the picnic. Had other plans, I answered. The boss said – do you realize the employees want to see you in this informal setting, and they missed the chance since you did not attend. WHAM – had never thought about the picnic from that perspective, and it completely changed my outlook on the importance of company events.

Employees come to a company picnic or holiday party because: it's a chance to socialize with coworkers and the bosses; it's an opportunity to 'see and be seen'; it's a free (or admission is bringing dish to contribute) event, and it's fun.

Leaders who look forward to the picnic are eager to mingle informally with the folks, to meet employees' families, and to see the workers in a non-work environment to gain a more complete impression of who they are. And it can be fun.

Keep in mind, while the leader may be coming to the event to see the employees in a different setting, the employees are coming to observe the boss in a non-work setting as well. They are seeing a different side of the leader – adding greater depth and richness to their view of this person who is leading 'their' organization.

Sometimes a leader should eat a hotdog with the troops to develop a stronger bond between her and the staff – and between the staff and her. A few hours of mingling in this informal setting can make a significant difference in building a stronger organziation.

Which is more compelling:
  • the memory of a leader with a half-eaten chicken leg talking about when he played pick-up basketball as a kid and worked tables to get through college – or –
  • some guy standing up in front of the company meeting talking about hard times, saying 'Trust me'.
    Who would you rather follow?

...And avoid that mystery casserole!

Entertaining experience - Sales Lab Video Channel

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Your Leadership Tribe

Everyone has a tribe – family and friends, other people with whom you have a relationship. This tribe is primarily involved with you in social, support, and general activities. People you've invited (or inherited) to participate in your life.

Taking it to a higher level, Seth Godin wrote about tribes, seeing them as the confluence of the leader (you), an idea (your vision), and a mission of creating change and achieving results (you and your followers). Whether it is:
  • marketing a new product or service – or changing how existing products and services are sold, like the progressive sale of eBooks;
  • spearheading a health mission like identifying trans fats, labeling their presence in foods, educating consumers, and virtually eliminating the presence in consumer foods; or
  • eliminating steps in a process because they no longer serve a purpose – akin to cutting 3-inches off the ham before baking it – because your old oven was too small.

What about your leadership tribe?

It has some traits of your personal tribe – it provides support and offers the insight of experience. It is forward-focused like Seth's tribe but differs – you are not exclusively the lead dog in your leadership tribe.

Your leadership tribe consists of people you know, others you respect, and still others who are a significant influence on your outlook and thoughts – a super peer group in a sense.

More about the three components of your tribe:
  • people you know; you have a relationship; you value their insight and input; they participate in your projects and you participate in theirs,
  • people you respect, but may not know personally; you read their writings and listen to their talks; you follow them over time; they provide ideas, points of view, thought stimulation – for me this includes folks like: Seth Godin, Fred Wilson, Chris Anderson, Harvey Mackay,
  • people who are an influence on you; by what they did; from their ideas and shared wisdom; because they changed the world; they achieved results; they tell the truth, have high standards, and stand by their principles – for me this includes: Peter Drucker, Jacques Cousteau, Ronald Reagan.

With your leadership tribe sometimes you are the leader of others and other times you are a follower of another's leadership. Your tribe is a foundation – tapping their experience and listening to their perspective to broaden what you bring to the project. Your tribe is resource – physical, mental, and emotional participation in your project. Your tribe is a training ground – you learn by doing under the leadership of people you value and respect, and by reading their account of other situations.

As with other peer relationships, you will have the role of a leader, a follower, a driver, a participant, and an advisor at any point in time – even simultaneously for different projects. You may appear alone to observers at times...doing all the work by yourself – in reality, your leadership tribe cloaks you with significant depth and strength to deliver on commitments and goals.

A team focuses on a goal – win the game, complete a project – while a tribe is a more organic structure – on an operational level when working on a project, certainly it is focused on the goal, but when that has been attained the tribe continues to serve its members with new insights, thoughts, sharing, mentoring, validation, and other continuing benefits. Members of the tribe with direct relationships receive inputs and provide outputs from the others.

Who do you have in your leadership tribe?

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