Leaders – Is Your Office Clean?
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
When I was promoted to general manager for a national restaurant chain, I was situated in a location that I originally started at one year prior and had a decent rapport with the staff. The first week, I had encouraged my team that we needed to get the store up to standards in cleanliness.
During our weekly focus in this area, one of the staff, Brittany was working happily and diligently, both somewhat unusual for her. When I asked her why the positive change in her demeanor, she stopped and turned to her colleagues and said, “Paul, the last time you were here and asked us to clean up you impressed me by cleaning the office as well. No manager ever did that. I remember you telling me that you couldn’t ask us to clean our work areas if you didn’t clean yours.”
It struck me that I had set a valuable example to these folks that was still fresh in their memory months later. It was this display of leadership that enabled them to step it up and we started rebuilding our brand identity in the area almost immediately.
What I did, as I found out years later in the book “The Secret – What Great Leaders Know And Do” was to:
Embody the Values, Walk the Talk
Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard both knew in real-world experience the value of this when they wrote this book. Even today, ten years later and during their webinar earlier this week, the leadership lessons they exposited still work and still influence people in a positive and profound way.
Many years ago, when Michael Eisner was still CEO of Disney, he was on a national morning TV show. During the interview, while he was still talking, he stopped to grab a piece of trash and toss it in the nearest receptacle. His rationale? He had worked hard to instill a level of pride and cleanliness throughout the Disney culture in which every employee picked up any trash they saw and discarded it.
Eisner was busy. He had a TV crew interviewing him. Millions of people were watching him on a live broadcast. But in embodying the values himself, he showed that he could not well ask his employees to do what he was not willing to do himself.
In what ways are you showing your people that your office is clean? That you embody your company’s values? That you walk the talk?
Influence only goes as far as the actions behind it. Actions are so strong, that the ripple effects of a positive example will carry on throughout others, as long as you continue to walk the talk.