This is the first post of six in a leadership series, Personalize Your Values, all based on what I learned watching Dan Cathy’s surprise visit to a local Chick-fil-A restaurant. It’s amazing what you can learn while eating the best chicken sandwich and sweet tea in the world!
Here we go…
I should first tell you: I love Chick-fil-A. My Mom began working in their corporate headquarters when I was 7-years-old, so Chick-fil-A has always been an influence in my life. Not to mention they have the best chicken sandwiches and sweet tea.
Every leader loves progress, and driving environment, program, event, or even leadership evolution is part of of the progress loop. Great leaders practice the art of evaluation and evolution. Individually, they are equally important, but without their counterpart, each is purposeless.
Some definitions based on my personal use: Evaluation is the systematic process of analyzing against a standard of expectation. By definition alone, effective evaluate is far from accidental. But evaluation is nearly worthless without evolution. Evolution is the process of change toward the standard of expectation.
If you want to be effective at both evaluation and evolution, make sure you:
Other’s inspiration can often create or spark innovation in you. Gavin Adams
I love the moment when I discover something new. Even if I end up trashing the idea, in that moment, I feel motivated and empowered to be better and do better. That moment makes me feel alive to encounter new ideas that improve what I’m already trying to do or discover innovations that could change my direction.
I recently came across one of those moments. Time will tell if it is a game changer or just a bad idea that leads to something better down the road. Here’s was my recent moment: What if I incorporate better imagery in my messages to help visually invoke emotion and connection. Okay, I realize you are probably not impressed (maybe some of you have already done this or realized it’s a bad idea), but for me, I found myself transported to a world of imagination and innovation where things are always getting better. That’s my favorite land to visit.
“You’re wrong” builds a wall. “Help me understand” opens a door.
I’m not the biggest fan of running, but when it comes to my work-life, I like to run pretty fast. That said, as a leader, pausing for any reason can feel like being frozen in a progress glacier. Sure, glaciers are beautiful, but they don’t move too fast. As a leader, that causes me a lot of tension.
Here’s what I’ve learned: There are many, many places where taking a moment to pause and ponder proves helpful. For me, one of the best places to pause is when I face criticism.
Common ground is the common denominator for connection. Gavin Adams
As a younger leader, I made a lot of statements. Actually, I made a lot of exclamations – with multiple exclamations marks!!! I guess I believed great leaders knew a lot about pretty much everything. As a younger leader, even though I thought I knew a lot, I really didn’t know very much at all. If you tried to tell me that, though, my response would be followed by several exclamations points!!! Of course, in the moment, I didn’t know, because we all have a tendency to not know what we don’t know.
Nevertheless, I wanted to look good as a leader and display confidence, so I made a lot of statements and shared my opinion openly and frequently. Nobody ever questioned where I stood on any issue, because I was all too willing to share. Yet I could not seem to gain influence, and at the time, I was not sure why. In hindsight, it’s very clear. Statements end conversations. Statements push people away, down, or to the side. Statements do not engage others. Exclamations are even worse.