The positively deviant behaviors you learned about in Unit 4 make an organization stand out in a positive way. Some places just put smiles on our faces. For some it’s Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. For some it’s TD Bank on a Sunday. It’s the amazing speed of Amazon Prime or Southwest Airlines with its speedy and kooky crew. It’s Zappos shoes and Lands’ End soft flannel shirts. It’s Disney that transports us to new worlds. When you become positively deviant you’ll be known for something that puts smiles on people’s faces too.
What’s your secret sauce? What combination of product, service, value, and culture will you combine to make your group, company, or department stand out? Remembered for? Known for? What do you want to stand for? What do you want to be famous for?
Outstanding Customer CARE comes out in teams where people see and appreciate the best in others. I don’t think customers are looking to be “serviced.” I think customers are looking to feel good about the exchange of their money for your goods.
They want the “stuff” they are buying from you (the real goods), but they also want to be left with a nice feeling (the feel goods). They want to feel valued, appreciated, and safe. They want to feel heard. They want to feel like you really care about them. Sometimes they even want to feel loved.
When you choose to create positive experiences for customers, not as an after thought but as the core of what you exist to do, you give your team an energizing focus, one they can get behind and feel good about supporting.
When your attention is on creating value for each other and for the customers, your team’s attention will be on creating value. When you live what you speak, so will your team.
When you focus your energy on creating authentic relationships with the people on your team it will be easier for them to do the same with customers. Relationships need to be fed and nurtured. Caring counts and caring pays in so many ways. It’s a good time to start thinking about what you want CARING to look like.
I’m talking about the lower case famous and not the “FAMOUS” in the celebrity sense. (If you want that too – great, but not necessary.)
What do you want to be famous for? Do you want people to experience your kindness, your brilliance, your friendliness, your effectiveness, your strategic acumen? Your sense of humor or your style?
How do you want to show up in the world? As an intentional and inspirational leader? As a cheerleader for the best in all your people? As a compassionate and intuitive leader who can see the best in others even if they can’t see it themselves? As passionate and focused on the customer experience?
How do you want others to see you or experience you? As one who has clarity and therefore power? As one who has energy and enthusiasm? One who has insight and ideas?
What qualities do you stand for and advocate for? Performance? Quality? Speed? Teamwork? Compassion? Love?
All this matters. How you show up as a leader gives your culture direction and either lights a fire in people or dampens it. Your culture and emotional climate impact the quality of your co-worker’s experience and your customer’s experience.
I want you to walk around with this question for a while. Ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for?” “What do I want to be famous for?”
If you are taking this course, you, or someone else, wants you to be a great boss. It’s a great thing to strive for. You impact people’s lives well beyond the workplace. When your employees leave the workplace with pride in a job well done, when they feel a part of something important and when they know you have noticed their best efforts, they go home full. They have positive energy left over for the people and things they love.
Now, it’s time for you to start thinking about what it takes to be a great boss.
Here’s a wonderful way to start your thinking process. Think of a time when you had a great boss. If you’ve never had a great one, think about one you’ve heard about or read about. List the qualities of that boss, real or imagined below.
You might also ask others about their favorite bosses and add those qualities to the list as well.
Which qualities would YOU like to embody in your leadership? List them here.
This is the beginning of a process that will help you choose some of the qualities you might want to embody as a leader.
You get to be the kind of leader you choose. You impact the lives of others, so choose wisely.
Positive Leaders are Positive Energizers!
A Positive Energizer thinks about and treats others in a way that elevates and energizes them to accomplish their goals.
Remember that positive emotions evolved in humans because they serve an important purpose – to build and broaden your capacity to create solutions! When you shift from focusing on the negative to focusing on the positive you literally create an opening in your brain – one that makes you smarter, quicker, healthier, and more creative. It eventually makes you wealthier too. When you increase the amount of positive capacity in your organization, you – the Positive Energizer – create a safe, emotional space where people feel free to share, participate, and engage. They trust that they will not be ridiculed, embarrassed, or shamed. It’s sad that many leaders still use the old blame and shame business models, which cause people to contract, shrink back, and protect themselves.
Old business models are based on scarcity, meaning there’s not enough. These old models are deficit based and problem focused. Companies who use old models think of business as a machine with replaceable parts (yes, even the human parts) and like to analyze and break apart problems to fix them. They search for the root cause and who’s to blame. They are self-limiting.
The Positive Leadership model is based on abundance, meaning there is enough for everyone and you can always create more. This model is strengths based and solutions focused. Companies who follow the Positive Leadership model build on the collective capabilities of all members. They are appreciative and affirmative, looking for what’s strong. They see business as a mystery seeking mastery. They gather information and synthesize it. They understand that businesses are organic and they look at the underlying systems for clues. The Positive Leadership model I teach is based on the idea that people who are nearest to the customer should be skilled and trained in doing what needs to be done to create a memorable experience that the customer will want to come back for and tell their friends about.
One of my favorite teachers is Dr. Kim Cameron from the University of Michigan. His books and lectures on Positive Leadership gave me the four strategies I promote for creating more positive deviance and more positive culture. The model consists of what I see as four different entry points into the process of cultivating more positive emotion. We will be covering each in the upcoming units. They are: Energize Positive Meaning, Energize Positive Climates, Energize Positive Relationships, and Energize Positive Communication. In each unit you will add new tools to your toolbox and new positive skills to your life.
Just as your positive outlook can energize your group through that tripod, your negative energy or outlook can also de-energize your group. Because of how your body broadcasts emotions, even if you think you are keeping a negative perception under wraps, people often feel it anyway. Most people learn to read their boss’s moods just like they learn to read their spouse’s.
One of my earliest clients was an industrial supply company. It was run by two brothers. Sam was the elder and Mike was the younger. Mike hired me because he wanted to increase customer and employee happiness.
People in the office were often grumpy and uncooperative with each other. There were petty squabbles and the people inside the company weren’t always supporting the sales team as well as they needed to be supported. The company wasn’t in bad shape but surely they could’ve been better.
One of the most significant things I offered them was to change the tone of their days. While Mike was a friendly guy, older brother Sam was clearly a very focused fellow.
Sam came into work focused on what would be in his inbox which was at the other side of a large room that was filled with desks.
On a daily basis Sam (who was actually a really a nice guy) made a beeline for the inbox, ignoring the people in his path. He was anxious to get to work on the things in that box.
While his attention was on what might be in the box, he was deleting the human beings in his path – leaving them to wonder whether he was in a good mood or bad. Since his facial expression showed no joy and his mental processes had already started working, his face showed preoccupation, which can often be misread as sternness or anger. After observing this practice of his for several mornings, I realized that the day got off on a sour note for so many because Sam didn’t acknowledge them well.
While it was difficult to break Sam of his direct-to-the-inbox habit, over time Sam came to understand that days were always better for others when he slowed down and allowed his focus to be on greeting people with care and concern. He was a nice guy – he just got distracted by the “other” work.
It made a huge difference in the overall climate and tone of the office when Sam allowed his softer and friendlier side to shine though first. Leaders can either energize or suck the energy out of people.
You already know that an exquisite customer experience is key to creating a competitive edge today, and that the key to that experience is a happy and engaged workforce.
By now I think you understand that the key to a happy and engaged workforce is to be the kind of leader people look up to and admire. Be the kind of leader who sees the best in people and situations, who exercises patience, compassion, and self-control as well as enthusiasm, drive ,and focus. All of these traits will open the door to a happy and engaged workforce.
Are you beginning to see the vital connections between the positive emotions you help create in the workplace and the positive emotions your employees create in the marketplace?
What makes your company stand out is the quality of the overall customer experience you deliver, time and time again.
The Customer Experience is the sum total of feelings evoked as a result of any interaction that takes place at any touch point in an organization. It’s based on the perception of value you deliver, whether or not that value is tangible or intangible.
The more your product or service looks like and acts like your competitor’s, the more important it is to stand out. What can make you stand out is how well you consistently deliver those intangibles – the “feel goods” alongside the “real goods.”
Intangible values – like caring, compassion, interest, emotional safety, trust, and appreciation – bloom in a culture nourished with Positive Leadership. Your intention and influence as a Positive Leader helps foster those intangible values.
Let’s revisit the exercise you did in Unit 1 and focus on the kinds of feelings you want your customer’s to have when they interact with your organization.
Jot down five to seven things you want to make sure your customer’s feel:
Use this phrase to start your thinking. “My customer’s want to feel…..”
Now, in order for your customer’s to consistently feel these things what does your team need to do consistently?
List five things here:
In order for your team to feel empowered and enabled to do what they need to do to create customer happiness, what do YOU need to do consistently to create the environment where that can happen?
List five things here:
Here’s the best way to do this exercise: Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed for 15 minutes. Relax into your chair and count your breath. Four counts in and four counts out this time. Make each breath a little deeper than the one before. Close your eyes, and put a hand over your heart. Bring to mind one thing about your work experience that you really appreciate and feel gratitude for it. Sink into that gratitude.
Now, use your imagination to put yourself out into the future a few years. There’s a special party and it’s for you. You are being honored for some significant (non-monetary) accomplishments with your team. Perhaps you’ve increased loyalty, or you’ve done something with your community. Perhaps you’ve grown other leaders in your department. As you grow into the leader you want to be, what qualities have you embodied that have impacted your co-workers, customers, or community?
Make a list of the things people are saying about you as they recognize and praise you for these accomplishments.
Now answer the question: What do you want to be famous for?
When you have questions you want answers to, or you want insight on an issue or opportunity, practice this moving meditation technique.
Make some brief notes that encapsulate your issue, and/or make a list of questions you want insight into. Take yourself to your favorite place to walk, preferably in a natural environment. Take a recording device or notecards with you to capture your insights.
Review your notes before setting out to walk and then set your intention. “I intend to get some deeper insight and some new ideas around this issue (name it.)” Start out walking at whatever pace makes you comfortable. Do your best to clear your mind and pay attention to your body. Feel your feet on the ground. Notice your posture, gait, and rhythm. Listen to your breathing.
Walk for five to 10 minutes while calming the mind and just pay attention to the body.
Once your mind is clear and focused on your movement, go ahead and ask yourself for some insight. Keep walking and catch the ideas as they come. Sometimes answers come in the form of images, or single words, and sometimes whole sentences. Capture them. Add them to your leadership journal, file, or notes. Something valuable and insightful always emerges when you give it the space it needs to arise.
I like to think I am conspiring with my muses when I’m on these walks. You can create whatever image works for you. Perhaps you are accessing your superpower as you walk, or an ancestor long past. You can use your imagination to consult with an elder statesman, a saint, or a rock star for that matter.
It may take a little practice to free up your imagination. Keep at it. The brain is percolating while you are walking and that’s all part of the creative process.
This was a big unit and an important one. I want your intentions to focus on how you want to “show up” in the world and how you want others to see you.
I have a green card on my desk that reminds me that I intend to show up the way I want others to see me. Some of the items on my list are: Radiant, Passionate, Powerful, Loving, Effective, Funny, Organized. From time to time I add items or change items on the list.
How will YOU show up?
Start with this sentence:
I intend to show up today in the way I want others to see and experience me.
I intend to show up ____________
I intend to show up ______________
I intend to show up______________
Add more if you like!