How leaders create shared meaning

It is not what we get. But who we become, what we contribute… that gives meaning to our lives.” Tony Robbins
Humans have a great need for relationships and meaningful lives. We seek to connect with each other to discover more meaningful connections. People everywhere are longing for new ways to work together as a collaborative community.
As leaders, we need to find ways to help people contribute, create and care about each other. Leaders have to find the passion in the best of each person they lead. We need to invite people to greatness. 

How do we create organizations that welcome people’s creativity, contribution and caring?
We live in a world of continuous change. Human creativity and commitment to innovation is critical to a competitive edge. Leaders must encourage people to get engaged with meaningful issues to bring solutions to problems. 

Leaders have to find out what people in their organizations are talking about and spend their energy on. By listening and taking part in these conversations, leaders can re-energize the creative spirit of every individual on their team to solve problems.
Everyone matters. Everyone can make a contribution. Sometimes when we think of contribution, we underestimate the small meaningful part people have in our organization. We may not notice because the person is not recognized in the company’s newsletter or the person does not lead a large group. The truth is, everyone makes small difference in someway to serve the entire whole.
Leaders must go out of their way to recognize these small contributions people make. A great way to recognize is practicing management by walking around. You will begin to notice the small efforts everyone makes on a daily basis.
Leaders must find ways  to engage in the intentional search for human goodness. Leaders can find ways to create new ways of working together for more harmonious relationships. It’s a great opportunity that supports teams, foster collaboration and more participative processes. 

We need to know that our work can contribute to helping everyone on our team. When people feel cared for, their stress is reduced  and they contribute more to the organization.
The way to create this harmonious participative culture, is by showing we care. We must show understanding and try to relate in some way to encourage more feedback to all people. 

People share more when they feel cared for by their leader.

The Four Pillars of Encouraging Leadership

“Humans need encouragement as much as plants need water. We constantly encourage or discourage those around us and thereby contribute materially to their greater or lesser ability to function.” Rudolf Dreikurs
To encourage is to be a leader who makes a difference by manifesting a positive belief in others. 

The value of encouragement is often taken for granted or sometimes missed because it tends to be communicated in private rather than public. 

The encouraging leader builds people up. They focus on the resources that can bring contribution to their organizations. Encouraging leaders remove the blocks to develop their teams and make everyone a winner.
Here are some great ways to help leaders become more encouraging:
Identify positive potential in every person and every situation
To be more encouraging, we have to see the potential in others. Everyone has something unique about them that we need to discover on a daily basis. It requires an effort and interest on our part as leaders as we begin the journey of learning more about our team’s potential. 

It begins with a mind-set that says “I want to learn more about this person.” Encouraging leaders have a positive outlook toward life and what other people bring to life.
Communicate recognition, progress and contributions
One of the great ways to uplift the morale in any organization is to communicate how much we value other people’s contributions. We must also continuously recognize any progress and development toward the company mission. 

If we take the time to communicate and recognize our teams, we communicate how much we care. We communicate how much they mean to us because we can not succeed without them.
Communicate in a language of collaboration and cooperation
Leadership today is about how we share power together with others. How do we share it responsibly? We facilitate open, honest communication to create better collaboration and cooperation. 

Encouraging leaders understand the power of We. It is the power of a team. Leadership by encouragement happens when people want to share ideas together and build relationships with another.
Encouraging leaders are committed to coaching and 360 degree feedback

Part of building people up is on-going dedication to be a teacher, a guide to our teams. We set valuable time to develop and mentor through our commitment to their success. 

This is a great way to add value to your team as you can show how much you want your team to flourish. In addition, encouraging leaders welcome feedback from everyone on their team to help build trust and encourage open feedback all the way around

Communicating Together

To communicate means to build together, to think together, to partake together, and to create together.” J. Krishnamurti
Communication is an integral part of our leadership ability to build and connect with our team to encourage better relations. 

When a leader communicates effectively, everyone shares the  same vision and the goals of the organization. The employees understand how they affect the results of the organization because it’s been communicated together.

Here are some great ways to communicate together 

The leader-communicator understands the need for sharing important information with his/her team. The leader’s ability to prolong trust and credibility is critical for success. 

A great way to help drive trust and credibility is to consistently share information to help your team understand the vision and the purpose of your organization. When the leader shares information, people feel more connected as it will encourage a two-way dialogue.
The leader-communicator invites people to take part in the day to day communication process. Leaders turn to others for suggestions and ideas to take the organization to a higher level. Involving people is a great motivator because everyone matters and everyone can make a difference. Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a better job.
The leader-communicator ability to listen is another area of helping people share what’s on their mind. It’s a golden opportunity to connect by doing less of the talking and just hearing people’s stories they wish to tell. Listen with empathy to make people feel understood and always appreciate their thoughts and suggestions. It’s another way to make an emotional deposit in our communication.  
Carmine Gallo, a communication coach suggests another way to encourage listening:” Asking questions makes them feel as though their opinions count. In a business setting, ask questions that move the conversation forward and that give you another opportunity to listen to the speaker. And don’t interrupt when your question is being answered!”
Be open
The leader communicator must be open to feedback from everyone on their team. As more and more companies flatten their organizations charts, the more open leadership has become. Be open in a way that helps you discover a new perspective. It can be valuable to your growth and potential as a leader because you are willing to be vulnerable to hear the truth. 

As Rick Warren said, “The moment we stop learning, is the moment we stop leading.” 

The best Leaders are the best Learners. I believe that we can learn to lead, and that we can become better leaders tomorrow, than we are today.
What suggestions would you give a leader to become a better communicator?  What have you done that has been effective in communicating to a team?

Are you a customer service Rock Star?

When we think about Rock Stars, we think about superstar performances. We get excited and enthusiastic, telling everyone how delightful the experience was.

How can we create the same energy and excitement for our customers?

Here are few ways to become a customer service rock star today:

Everyone is a VIP

Everybody likes to feel important. Treat everyone like a VIP. VIP stands for- Very Important Person. Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics said it best,“Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, Make me feel important.”
A customer is our best friend. How would you treat your best friend? Making people feel important and appreciated for their business is so critical now adays that I think some places take it for granted. 

First impressions are lasting impressions. Without making that customer feel important, the memory is lost forever.

Remember their name

Remembering someone’s name is another forgotten virtue of customer service. Everyone likes to hear their name. Dale Carnegie in his most influential book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, said “Become genuinely interested in other people. Smile. Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language.”

When you use the customer name, you communicating their worth. You are essentially communicating on a personal and unique level to that person by using their own name. It goes along way because the customer feels you took the time to remember them as a person, rather than another number.

Connect and relate

Maya Angelou poet and author said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”  That’s the best way I can describe connecting and relating with the customer. If you engaged and took the time to listen and connect on a genuine level, they will come back for more and more. Why? It’s how you made them feel. You created an emotional connection that adds value.

Surprise and Delight

Being a customer service rock star is like magician. You have to know when to use your bag of tricks to WOW someone today. I call it Surprise and Delight. Maybe it’s the AHA moment. These are moments that the customer service rock star goes the extra mile to deliver the unexpected.

You created a memorable moment for the customer and they rave about it to everyone they know. Chip R. Bell, a customer service author and consultant said, “Customer delight comes from doing the little things that customers don’t expect but will certainly remember.”

A warm farewell

Too often we assume that the customer is satisfied once the customer experience is almost over. As a customer service rock start, the last interaction has to be just as memorable and important as the first one by reassuring the relationship with the customer.

This is the golden opportunity to hear the customer feedback. Make your customer feel comfortable to share their experiences with you and also wish them a warm goodbye. Above all, thank them for their being a customer. Walt Disney said,” Good bye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.”

Do you lead with your heart?

“Leadership must be based on goodwill. It means sincere and wholehearted commitment to serving others. We need leaders that are men of the heart .” Admiral James B. Stockdale

Great leaders serve with their hearts. They understand the value of service to others. Leaders who lead with their heart are very special to another person. Leaders with a heart, invest in their people as it supports an effective potential for growth.

What are some of the characteristics of a leader with a heart?

They genuinely like people

Leaders who have a heart must be interested in people. They genuinely care and reach out to get to know each person on a personal level. They get their energy and inspiration from the people they meet through sincere conversations and create an emotional bond with another person. Leaders attract other people by their sense of being genuine with others.

They take action when needed

Leaders are action-oriented. They are constantly moving forward to improve the status quo. Once their vision is articulated and shared with the team, action is critical to make things happen quickly. They also inspire other people to take action as part of everyone’s contribution to the whole.

They are empathetic

Leaders who have a heart, want to understand people better. They want to understand people’s struggles and personal longings to uplift people’s spirits. Empathy is a great way to heal and connect as we build relationships with other people. Leaders who have a heart, care enough to feel and listen for a meaning.

They want to help

Leaders who have a heart, really have a deep desire to help other people. On this level, leaders create significance bigger than themselves. As leaders, they want to help in any possible way. It’s a great moment to build credibility as leaders and roll-up our sleeves to be there and offer assistance to the team.

They anticipate Needs

Leaders who have a heart, always look ahead and try to anticipate the needs of other people. By anticipating people’s needs, leaders create an environment of treating everyone as a loyal internal customer. Anticipating is a great way to exceed everyone’s expectations on your team.

They take time to listen

Leader who have a heart, make a commitment to their teams by taking time to listen. Listening helps people discover who they are in a way that encourages everyone to be heard. Everyone has a voice and leaders continuously cultivate and seek feedback from others as an integral part of a team development.

They serve others

Leaders who have a heart, put other people first. They are here to take care of their people’s needs before theirs. They serve by modeling the way as they continuously adding value to their people and add more significance to their lives.
“Leaders should influence others. In such a way that it builds people up, encourages and educates them so they can duplicate this attitude in others.”  Bob Goshen

What do you have to do before you can lead others?

Who is the first person we need to lead? To lead others, we must first lead ourselves. Self- leadership is the essence of character growth that begins with oneself and overtime serves others. 

Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and leadership speaker said, “The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development.”

Few leaders are successful unless they pursue personal growth toward leading themselves. They understand that in order to help, invest and develop others, they must invest in their own development as a leader. People are not better unless you become better.
Here are some great ways of how you can invest in your development as a leader and remember-It’s a life long journey that we all must take to create significance for others.

Lead yourself through learning

Become a life-long learner. Leaders have a beginner’s-mind set. They have a passion and commitment for discovering something new about themselves and other people. You cannot truly lead yourself if you are not learning.  Avoid the foolish mistakes of thinking you have nothing to learn.  Read books, attend seminars, visit great places, and secure a mentor. Always practice the discipline of continued learning.

Be in a growth environment

As leaders, we don’t grow unless we are part of a growth-environment. Are we continuously stretching? Are we continuously challenged to show leadership and concern for others? Take on project or an assignment you have not tried before and make contribution. Get uncomfortable and try discovering something new. Ask yourself, am I part of an environment that allows me to stretch my boundaries to become a better leader and serve others.

Be Creative and Innovative

As leaders, we constantly must to seek ways to improve and be creative. Leadership is changing as more and more people are sharing new information and new ideas with each other. It creates an opportunity for leaders to think of new ways of leading people. Leading people today is not the same as it was twenty or even ten years ago. Generation Y’s are part of the new working landscape and leaders have to adopt a new mind-set to lead effectively. Leadership has become more relational and shared, so we have to reinvent ourselves to keep up with new landscape.

Be Accountable for your personal development

If you want results, you have to be accountable. Success of failure begins with your ability to hold yourself to higher standard and have the courage to be honest with yourself. Being accountable does not mean being hard on ourselves. It simply means we are humble enough to admit our mistakes and learn from them. Zero Dean said, “To admit that you made a mistake, is to declare that you are wiser now than you were before.”
“Be a student. Stay open and willing to learn from everyone and anyone. Being a student means you have room for new input. When you know in your heart that every single person you encounter in your lifetime has something to teach you, you are able to utilize their offerings in a profound way.” 
Wayne W Dyer