Hit Your Creativity Button To Delight Customers
During a recent short out- of- town adventure, my leadership antennae went into high gear. Going into any new local, I am usually very excited and pumped to learn and recharge my batteries. It is a great opportunity to take time to just think and dream and plan. This particular trip involved heavy rains, flooding and thunderstorms. They were relentless and I was at a “beachy” resort. To add to the frustration, nobody at the resort seemed particularly caring or concerned with the needs of their visitors. Except for one amazing maintenance man. A true leader.
When we initially arrived the conversation with an employee at the front desk sounded like this:
“Welcome. Here is your information about the facility. Your room will be ready in a few hours. Have a nice evening.”
“Is it possible to make it a little warmer in the lobby?” My toes were turning blue at that point.
To which they responded: “We keep the thermostat at the same temperature all the time.” No further explanation or words of support.
After shivering for a while in the main area, a maintenance man approached us and asked us what was wrong. We explained the situation to him and he said with a smirk: “Follow me”.
He guided us through a maze and down an elevator and through a large ballroom and finally to an outdoor sitting area that had a roof to protect us from the torrential rains. It was warm outside and we were thrilled.
With gratitude we exclaimed: “Thank you so much. We so appreciate your help! We will be fine here.”
Wow! With a little creativity and great deal of kindness we felt cared for.
Do you care for the people you see each day in your workplace? Do you delight your customers so they feel appreciated?
Here are four ways for leaders to hit their creativity button to show others they matter:
1. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SPOT
No one at the front desk had any desire to see how we were feeling. They were fixated in carrying out rules and disseminating information without viewing the situation from our perspective. There was no emotion. They were robotic. The maintenance man cared about us.
In our workplaces it may be easier to just spew out words about what needs to be done or deadlines to meet, but consider how we may come across. If someone on our team brings up a challenge, lead by acknowledging their concerns. Tell them you hear their frustration and will address it. If a customer feels slighted or upset, open your mind to making things better. Lead with kindness.
2. BRAINSTORM POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
Even if we don’t have a perfect resolution to a co-worker’s struggle or a customer’s dilemma, take the time to think creatively. Ask yourself:
- What might work here?
- How can I alleviate their challenge?
- Is there a small step I can take to help minimize the situation?
- Who else may be able to help resolve the problem?
3. GUIDE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS AND CUSTOMERS WITH CARE
However you decide to lead, make sure to be aware of the other person’s concerns. Ask questions if you are uncertain of the frustration. The maintenance man knew we just needed to be in a warmer temperature even if he couldn’t stop the rain. He guided us with a smile and warmth. It might not have been the most divine location, but we felt valued.
4. HELP CREATE A CULTURE OF CREATIVE THINKING
Model the way for everyone else on your team to delight your customers and one another. Leaders are able to influence others to be cognizant of the needs of team members and customers. When we are creative and show kindness, we develop stronger work relationships and loyal customers.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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