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From a 10 year old to Leadership

A quick observation from the mind of a 10 year old that resonated with me enough to share with all of us in leadership.

Recently my sister shared a post on Facebook of a entry her son wrote in his quotes journal. He keeps a journal of memorable quotes and his explanations of what they mean. This is a great practice I wish I would have done...and still may. The quote reads:

"Talent may get you on the field but it's effort and attitude that will keep you there." - Ken Griffey, Jr.

My nephew an amazing 10 year old wrote his thoughts on what it meant "I think this quote means that you always put forth good effort and attitude. For example, you may be really good at something. That's talent. But if you don't try and you have a bad attitude, you will fail for what you're working towards."

They say some of the best lessons come from the mouth of babes. Granted, he didn't state the quote but his insight into it's meaning would be lost on so many in today's business world. Regardless of your field of endeavor, the reality is raw talent can only get you so far. For the purposes of this article though I'm going to focus specifically on "good attitude" and the importance of it and how a good one from the top down can impact so many factors including your bottom line and ultimately change a corporate culture.

Over the years I have consulted for and overseen operations/sales for many types of businesses. Most of the opportunities which came to me were based on word of mouth due to the significant impacts I had on all aspects of the business. The statment is not to impress but to impress upon you, that all of those orgnaizations that I impacted had one thing in common when I walked in the door. The employees and managment had "poor attitudes". What is a poor attitude though? Well, as with most things in this world it can be open to interpretation. However, here are a few areas I categorized some poor attitudes to include one or more of the following:

Complaint Syndrome - Every situation, request, or task needing to be done presents some form of a problem. We all have encounted those people on our team that regardless of what you ask, it is met with a sigh, a reason why this is going to be so difficult and moans throughout the process of ultimately doing what you knew could be done. You could ask this person to get a cup of water and it would turn into a half hour dissertation on how the cup is too small and the sink is too high and the water faucet sprays to the left sometimes. This is contageous when left unchecked and when you walk into a department of staff infected with complaint syndrome it is fun work overcoming it.

The I Don't Get Its - Regardless of how simple the instruction is, this person just doesn't get it. This initially does not seem like a poor attitude, but after a while you realize that it is a habit. Verus putting the effort into understanding, they simply fall back on "I don't get it." or "I'm not sure what you're saying." Back to the cup of water reference, this is the type of person who would ask you 'Why do you need water right now? I just don't understand." Although, not nearly as contageous as the Complaint Syndrome this is catchy too and ususally results in managers doing things themselves versus having to explain over and over to their team as to what they believe they have clearly outlined.

Not My Job Fever - This is one of my favorites and also one of my biggest professional gripes in any environment. This is the person who will leave you thristy because it is not their job to get you a drink of water, even though you're choking. The biggest problem with this is not how it impacts your office and team, but those who run this fever have a tremendous impact on your customers. Because, they will not do anything outside of their role to assist a client in need. Even if it is as simple as going to another desk and asking a question to help the customer. This is contageous but not airborne - this is usually a result of direct contact with someone who has Not My Job Fever. In retaliation for their not assisting them, they in turn pay forward the sickness.

There are more examples of poor attitudes but the main thing that all of the above share which ties into my nephews quote, they all exhibit in one form or another a lack of effort. The complainers do not want to exert themselves and by doing so never learn more, they miss opportunities to grow and better themselves because they are too busy focusing on the negative. The Don't Get Its, similarly remove themselves from their ability to grow and worse foster an environment more often than not with their managers in which they would rather do it themselves or will turn to someone else that does get it. Those Not My Jobers...well you know.

How do you overcome these? There is an entire process I go through with every assignment I have ever taken, and of course you address certain pain points, but ultimately the answer has always come down to one simple thing that I did to foster change in behavior, performance and ultimately client satisfaction...I changed their attitudes. Regardless of the situation, the importance of going in with a good attitude from the top down makes all the difference. Employees and people in general respect and want to work with people who are positive, optimistic and motivational. This doesn't mean you have to be Mary Poppins singing to your office. But there are a few simple things you can do to begin:

  1. Start of every day to the office with a simple "Good Morning." and end every day by saying "Good Night."

  2. Remember your parents rules, start every request with a "Please" and end it with a "Thank You."

  3. Educate your team. Don't be too important to explain the reasoning behind your decisions or actions. Help them to understand how their roles impact the person next to them and why they are ALL important.

  4. Treat negativity with positive responses. Especially at the onset. Old habits are hard to break. So when they present to you complaining why it can't be done. Take the time to explain to them how and why it can. You foster important communications, trust and confidence by doing so.

  5. Be assertive without being an ass. You can be concise and hold people accountable without being tyrannical. If they understand their role, its implications on the company and others, then they have a sense of accountability for their tasks to which you will hold them.

  6. Appreciate their effort. Nothing kills efforts more than lack of appreciation for a job well done. A simple and more importantly sincere thank you can go a very, very long way.

Obviously, To circle back to how we got here. As an individual, a good attitude helps you to keep a positive outlook. It makes it easier to put in the effort to accomplish the goals you have in front of you. If you are in a leadership role, then your good attitude is as infectious as a poor one. You want to lead by example, show them how it feels to smile while they work and to be smiled back at.

If you foster a quality work environment, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to accomplish the tasks needed to "change" or "improve" your business unit, office or company as the culture evolves naturally to one of support, teamwork and maximum effort!!

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