On Valentine’s Day, my COO & I led company-wide meetings about quality. This was a follow-up discussion to January meetings on the same topic in which the message was candid & dim.
As I was preparing for the meeting, my 7 year old daughter asked what I was doing. Which was promptly followed by her surprisingly wise two cents. Here’s her take.
- Decide if you are going to come from your heart or from your head.
- Ask them how we can fix the issues. Don’t say anything until they answer.
- If they don’t have ideas, make them go somewhere without you to solve it as a team. They should agree on an idea, tell you, and then do that.
- As it is Valentine’s Day, consider cancelling work altogether and having the meeting the next day. (She was particularly fond of this but was appeased by my response that I planned to hand out chocolate kisses).
She asked about the January meeting, and I replayed the content of the session & the stark message about the impact of poor quality on profitability & our reputation. She shook her head while eating a tube of yogurt and informed me that “you took them to devil-land instead of wonderland. This time, you have to take them to wonderland.”
I asked why, and she promptly responded – now chewing a PB&J – that people will work harder when they are scared but it isn’t always good because they won’t have fun and they may work too hard.
What did I learn from this miniature munchkin’s leadership prowess?
- Be clear about what you want to communicate and how you plan to send the message. Define this before you start talking.
- While the results are the ultimate indicator, it is the team that gets you there. They will get there faster and more comfortably if they are educated & inspired, feel supported, and know what actions are needed.
- Engage everyone in the solution by asking open ended questions intended to discover and uncover – not judge and blame.
- If still no answers appear, create a think tank. Keep digging until you know.
- Play it forward – anticipate the reaction to the planned message. Make sure it’s what you want.
- Remember life is intended to celebrate. And while I didn’t cancel work because of Valentine’s Day, it is important to pause and enjoy our time together, holidays, & success.