Carol Blair recently spoke at a Toastmasters Leadership Institute event that I attended.
She outlined 5 FANTASTIC leadership goals:
- Pursue purpose with passion
- Practice solid values
- Lead with your heart
- Establish lasting relationships
- Demonstrate self-discipline
- What do you think of this list?
- Would you add anything to it?
If you are an up and coming leader, this is a great list to focus on. If you are a well established leader, hopefully this helps take your “leading-abilities” to the next level.
You can find Carol at:
My first job out of university was with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car. It was high paced, non-stop action role that keeps me running all day. Most days I did not believe that we could take care of all the customers, but we did. Things just always worked out.
Part of our jobs was washing cars. On the surface anyone should be able to wash a car. But in that business, the key was to wash it quickly, but still make things spotless.
I worked for several Branch Managers and Assistant Managers during my 2+ years with the company, and they were each different. They got similar exceptional results, but the way they each lead and managed was unique.
But there was one commonality. They would never hesitate to jump into the car wash and clean a vehicle at a moment’s notice. I was once told that you just “tuck your tie in to your shirt so it does not get wet, or sucked up in to the vacuum“, and just GET IT DONE.
They would also do many other tasks that were not on their job description like pick up customers, and start cars when it was colder than -30 degrees celsius!
These people stood out for me as true leaders. It would have been easy for them to sit in their offices, shuffle paperwork and pretend that they were doing more important things then help customers be completely satisfied with their rental experience, but that was not in their DNA. They were there to help, no matter how crummy the tasks were, all in the name of “just being one of the team”.
Even though it was over 15 years ago that I washed my last car at Enterprise, I still think back fondly of the lessons learned – and there were many of them.
But the best lessons learned taught a shy, stuttering young kid how to be a leader. How to never put myself ahead of the team, and how to never put myself on a pedestal too high, that I could not help out people who really needed me.
- Who were the best leaders that you have worked for?
- What made them a cut above the rest?
I never thought being an assistant coach for my son’s six-year-old hockey team would be easy, but there is more to it then I thought!
I have learned many leadership lessons from the experience, and here are my favourites:
- Patience – Many of these kids still sleep with teddy bears. They are very young and their development takes time
- Encouragement – “High-Fives, pats on the back, and a “great job” goes a long way for their confidence
- Focus On The Positive – We tend to focus on what is being done wrong, that we sometimes forget to reward what is being done right
- “Sandwich Method” – Put a suggestion for an area of improvement between two positive comments
- SMILE – Then laugh with them, and make them feel comfortable. It is truly about having fun, developing skills, and learning what it means to be part of a team
As I was writing this, I realized many of these points can be related to managing in the corporate world, or business in general. At least, I thought I could inspire other coaches who may need some new perspective!
If kids are not inspired by their coaches, there are many other activities that they can do these days. Each interaction with them is critical to building that connection.
Is it time to tweak your coaching, managing or general leading philosophies?
I have heard a couple of incredible interviews recently with hockey coaches. I immediately thought of the parallels to leaders in the business world. It seemed like an opportune time to repost this article on a professional hockey coach.
I was driving home from work one day last January and heard an awesome interview with Jeremy Rutherford from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the Team 1260 Sports Radio in Edmonton. The discussion focused on the new coach of the St. Louis Blues, Ken Hitchcock, and the team’s amazing turn-around since his hiring.
Highly regarded professional hockey coach Ken Hitchcock was out of work for some time when the St. Louis Blues hired him in November, 2011. He had a reputation throughout the National Hockey League as a disciplinarian for many years, and lead with a “my way or the highway” approach. He had a history of conflict with young players who were having trouble adapting to his style of play.
By the time he took over the floundering yet talented Blues hockey club, the positive change in the team was almost instantaneous. At one point in January of 2012, they were on a 21 wins, 6 losses and 2 overtime losses run. The team’s fans and casual observers were impressed with the team’s turnaround, but not totally surprised based on Hitchcock’s history of success.
When Jeremy Rutherford was asked about Hitchcock’s most recent success, his answer was simple and to the point,
He adjusted his coaching style to cater to today’s players. There is still accountability, but the players are not afraid to make one mistake and then have their butt stapled to the bench for an extended period. Two veterans who had previously played for Hitchcock gave the players a head’s up of what to expect from their new coach.
Rutherford described a potential scenario,
“You make one mistake, no problem. You make a second mistake, no problem. You continue to make the same mistake; the coach and player are going to have to find solutions.”
The part of the radio interview that impressed me the most discussed that Coach Hitchcock had studied all 30 teams for several months while he was unemployed. He was preparing for his next opportunity, and waiting for the phone to ring.
Two things stood out for me about this message:
- He was not just sitting at home waiting for the next job to fall in to his lap
- He had the positive belief that another role would come his way, and it was only a matter of time
- Have you ever observed a sport or business team make a remarkable improvement after a coaching or management change?
- Can you pinpoint specific reasons for the improvement?
Sometimes as leaders, coaches, or people of influence in general, we over think how to motivate teams.
Several times last year, my son’s hockey team of 4 and 5 year olds had one hour power skating lessons. I was amazed by the instructor’s ability to keep them interested the entire time, even with sessions as early as 6 am on weekends!
This list should seem obvious to us all, but how many of these simple points do we miss with those that we lead?
- Smile, encourage and be enthusiastic
- Have fun and make them laugh
- Know the audience, relate to them on their level
- Be engaging – ask great questions that they will be eager to answer
- Fully explain what you want them to do. Leave nothing to the imagination
I was attending my first trade show with a company many years ago. I had just committed to move to a new city and was very nervous. Everyone was friendly, but I felt alone, and was unsure if I had made the right decision.
A fellow sales rep then approached me unexpectedly late in the first day, and took me under his wing for the rest of the event. He made me feel welcomed, and instantly put me at ease! For the next four days I had somebody that I was comfortable around, and could ask them any questions, no matter how silly they seemed at the time.
That event inspired this list, and I have always remember my colleague fondly for helping me out!
#1 Ride-A-Longs With Top Performing Sales Reps – I was just there to observe, nothing more. I once flew across the country and spent one day each with the top two performers in an organization.
#2 Working With A Mentor – It was great to have somebody to go to when I needed them, and not feel like I was being a bother. Helping me when necessary was part of the “mentor-newbie deal”.
#3 Joints Calls With A Sales Manager or Senior Sales Rep – I may have taken the lead on a call, but it was comforting to have them there if I needed any “back-up”. In the event a call was more complex, they would take the lead, and I would be there for support
#4 Guaranteed Salary and/or Commission As A New Rep – This was a game changer for me! It took all the pressure off at the start of a new role, and I could focus on learning the complete job for the foreseeable future. I had a guaranteed salary in one role for the first year and my results far exceeded budget!
#5 I have several other thoughts, but wanted to leave this one up to you. In your experience in sales, or what you have witnessed being involved in business, what else has assisted new sales reps to get acclimatized in their role?