I recently attended Steve Farber’s, author of the Radical LEAP, Extreme Leadership Experience in San Diego and the title of this event was spot on! The ‘experience’ was nothing short of phenomenal. In fact, it’s difficult to find the right adjective to describe it appropriately.
Steve is known for his unique perspective on what it means to lead and create a culture where people not only thrive, but they deliver high levels of excellence to themselves, their team and their clients.
Regardless of whether you think of yourself as a leader or not the lessons from Farber are important. After a few years of success through embracing the principles of the Radical LEAP (Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof) I have found not only my work success has improved, but also my personal relationships.
My original intent for attending the event was to refresh my knowledge, Insentra has been implementing the core principals of Love, Energy, Audacity and Proof over the last 18 months and I wanted to ensure I was fresh with how we could embed them more deeply. Little did I know these two days would not only refresh my knowledge, they would also refresh my spirit and passion.
WHAT IT MEANS TO TAKE A L.E.A.P?
I love to help people. In fact, our entire Leadership team loves to help people. That’s our whole purpose as a business- to help our partners and their clients be more successful.
So, it’s no surprise we approach what we do with a lot of passion and energy. It’s what we love to do. However sadly where most businesses fall short, is their team members lose passion and energy over time – this doesn’t have to be the case. Although all of the elements of LEAP are key, I believe true success is founded in the first principal. LOVE!
Love is a funny word, most of us are quite comfortable to use it on a daily basis in our personal life but seldom at work. Some may use it to describe their feelings about what they do; ‘I love that part of my job’ or ‘I love my customers.’ But few use it to the same extent they would in their personal life. And that’s a huge mistake!
Love is the most powerful driver in the world, it makes people extend themselves beyond what is expected and is the only thing that can conquer hate. Why wouldn’t we want this to be part of our vocabulary and experienced in all parts of our business? Is it too ‘touchy-feely’ or esoteric to play an important role in business? I don’t think so.
LOVE IS NOT A DIRTY WORD WHEN IT COMES TO BUSINESS
Love is demonstrated through actions- not words. A company executive might say she ‘loves’ her employees but do her actions and policies demonstrate that?
At the Extreme Leadership Experience, I was fortunate enough to hear so many personal stories from incredibly successful, intelligent, articulate and caring individuals. I thought I’d share the inspiring story of how one of these Extreme Leaders demonstrated and cultivated Love in his organization early in his career- long before he read Steve’s book.
This individual, I’ll call him Jeff, had recently joined a well-known chain restaurant and had been assigned to manage one of more than 400 restaurants in the organization. This particular location was known as the least
performing of all the stores and slated to be closed in the near future. It’s important to understand that each and every one of the company’s stores were exactly the same; the same layout of the building, the same furniture, the same carpet, the same processes, the same food, suppliers, etc. Jeff had been told the store was going to be closed before he even arrived, so he had been thinking a lot about what he could do to turn that around. He realized, in fact, there wasn’t much he could do individually to improve the situation, but he also knew that if he had a team of motivated people together they could accomplish the unachievable.
At his first all hands meeting upon arriving at the store, Jeff decided to share the company’s official perspective of the store, including the fact it was likely to be closed. This was a risky move. But then he articulated something they hadn’t heard nor thought of before. The only difference between their store and any other location was the people. Them. That team sitting right there. This made it personal.
As Jeff began working with the team to improve things, he found some of his employees were struggling with what he had always considered to be basic, such as turning up to work on time, having a clean uniform to wear etc… Now you might not think this is applicable to your business, but you may be surprised that some of the things you consider to be ‘basic’ may be a challenge to the team around you. As most managers would, he could have easily simply stated the requirement and fired employees for not meeting the requirements. But Jeff is different. He wanted to get to know his employees. He wanted to understand them, their dreams, their passions, their goals and their daily lives. So, he simply asked one employee who consistently came to work with a dirty uniform why they hadn’t washed it the night before. That is a question any of us might ask but it’s based entirely on a massive assumption; all people have washers and dryers.
Turns out this employee, and a few others, didn’t have washers and dryers and didn’t have cars. So, they relied on public transportation and laundromats. It wasn’t actually possible for them to wash the one uniform after every shift. Knowing this problem still had to be solved and not having any budget to provide additional uniforms, Jeff did the only thing he could do to help them. Each night, his employees would change into street clothes before leaving the restaurant. Jeff would take all the uniforms home with him and wash them himself. He typically arrived home around 1AM and would stay up until around 4AM doing loads of laundry for his team. He did this every single night, 7 days a week for over a year. This is how he demonstrated love to his team and for all of them it was the first time a manager had ever proved they cared about them and would sacrifice for them. That demonstration of Love in the business had a profound impact. There were many other examples of Jeff’s Love for his team, but it would take a small novel to describe them all.
Twelve months after Jeff’s arrival, the store became the highest performing store of all 400+ locations. That experience and the sense of pride his team enjoyed carried most of them much further in their careers than they had ever expected. Often as managers we think that by implementing more policies and procedures (rules) as well as stricter consequences (getting fired) things will change, but a Leader knows different. If you want your team to care and perform at their best you have to care and be your best.
WILL YOU TAKE A L.E.A.P?
Regardless of whether you’re motivated altruistically or by the bottom line (or both), I would encourage you to take a closer look at the LEAP framework and see the benefit it will provide to not only your team, but yourself.
Let me know how you get on and together we can change the world.