Thursday, February 23, 2012

It’s Not WHAT This Campaign Is About. It’s WHO.

Okay, this may be cheating, but I'm actually going to redirect you to a guest blog post I wrote for the Every|Day Hero Campaign. After you read it, be sure to check out the website, learn about this campaign, and take the Every|Day Hero Pledge!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Don't 1-UP, 7UP

Nobody likes a 1-up-er.

The 1-up-ers are people who always have better ideas, more extravagant stories, a more expensive this, a cooler that. Their game is one of constant comparison to others. They keep score. And they earn their points by taking away yours.

In the late '60s and early '70s, 7UP ran a brilliant (and very successful) advertising campaign to brand themselves as The Uncola. To be the "uncola" was to be different, unique, unconventional. The campaign "symbolized being true to yourself and challenging the status quo." It wasn't about being better than the other colas, it was about self-expression, about becoming a better version of itself.

I want to know why you are different. Why you are unique. How you've exceeded others' expectations. How you've shattered your own expectations. What you've contributed. What you care about. Why you care about it.

I don't care to know why you're simply better than the alternative.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Emergency Exit

Many leaders have trust issues. For a number of possible reasons, they struggle to delegate tasks, and more importantly, actual responsibilities, to the members they lead. I've heard so many student leaders and professionals alike say, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

I was sitting on an airplane at Palm Beach International Airport this morning listening to the flight attendants give their spiel about emergency procedures. I've heard it a thousand times before, but while listening to it this morning, something struck me: the level of trust airlines place in their passengers.

Anyone who has been on a commercial plane knows that passengers who sit in emergency exit rows are asked to take on the responsibility of assisting with an evacuation if one becomes necessary. Think about this for a moment. The airline personnel know nothing about the people sitting in those rows, and the passengers end up there by chance. Still, the airlines place full confidence in those individuals to help provide a safe and speedy exit in the event of an emergency.

Yet in organizations, leaders often don't trust their own members with responsibilities that come nowhere near the life-or-death situation in the airplane scenario.

And when you think about it further, what the flight attendants do is pretty simple. First, they explain the responsibilities of sitting in the emergency exit rows. Then, they ask the passengers if they are able and willing to fulfill the responsibilities should it be necessary. If so, trust is bestowed upon the passengers!

Here's the thing: the airlines don't have a monopoly on the trust principle. We can do the same thing in all of our organizations. Explain to people what it is you want them to do. Ask them if they feel comfortable and capable doing it. If so, let them run with it! If not, provide them with the tools and training. Then let them run with it!

Trust builds confidence, and confidence boosts performance. Trust me.