Never miss an opportunity to provide culture coaching
Paul, beverage manager for a wholesale food distributor, told Session 8B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
"About a month ago, right after our Turbo session on how to provide empowering coaching, I was sitting at my desk when a salesman named Mark came into my department. I overheard him telling my service tech how much he appreciated the professional job he had done in completing a recent equipment installation. He went on to say how happy his customer was with the whole job. I was very disappointed to hear how my service tech replied, 'What do you want now, Mark?' Mark, a little exasperated, said, 'I just came in to say thanks,' turned around and walked out of the department. About half an hour later, there was no one else in the area. I was alone with the service tech, I asked him if he was OK, if he was having any problems. His reply was 'No,' that everything was fine. Then I mentioned what I had observed when Mark took the time and effort to come down to our department to say thanks and give him a little praise for a job well done. I told him it sounded to me like he had blown him off, questioned his sincerity and honesty. I said if I were Mark, I would have a hard time telling him thanks again anytime soon. The service tech said he understood that what he had done was wrong and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. About an hour later, I heard my technician on the phone with Mark, thanking him for the acknowledgement and apologizing for his earlier behavior.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that as soon as I see a negative behavior that mediates against teamwork, I need to respond to it, provide the needed coaching, do my part to turn things around, to create a positive team environment. If I don't do it, it won't get done. "The action I call you to take is don't be afraid to help your associates when a wrong decision is made, step in and carefully coach or correct their behavior. The benefit you will gain is respect and the teamwork you require for a championship team."
An important part of an empowering
leader's job is to be alert to unacceptable behavior and then to find acceptable ways to call people on it. If you don't, the culture will wind down. Cultures, groups, teams never naturally spiral upward. Be careful when you are correcting unacceptable, demoralizing, diminishing behaviors. If your behavior is demeaning, diminishing, or unacceptable, you will have defeated your whole purpose. So take a tip from Paul; wait for the private opportunity, draw attention to what has occurred and honestly speak your own truth about how you would feel and what you would do if you were the recipient of such a comment. You may not always get as immediate a response as Paul, but you will be taking charge of your culture, your environment, and you will probably make a bigger difference than you can imagine. This is empowering leadership. It's up to you, and it requires tact and courage.
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