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.
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