Connecting At A Deeper Level
The first step to strategizing what kind of team you want to lead is deciding what kind of story you want for your organization. What stories will your customers tell their friends and family? What stories will your employees tell their friends and family? Your business’s success and profitability depend on the stories that get told. Take the time to develop a story that captivates and engages.
Here’s an example. I have spoken many times around the world about a disastrous experience I had on Lufthansa Airlines over ten years ago. There is even a video of me available on the Internet telling the story. Personally, Lufthansa has lost over $350,000 in business that they could have potentially got from my international travels because of this experience.
Conversely, British Airways is one of my all-time favorite airlines because of the emotional connection I have with them. Why? What is the STORY that makes me go out of my way to do business with them?
Create a WOW Story
It was New Years 2010, my daughter, then 19 years old, flew back to Europe to see her school friends and celebrate New Years with them. She had a lot of fun – apparently too much fun because when she was returning home, she had to transfer to the last leg of her trip at Heathrow Airport. While she was waiting for her next flight, she fell asleep in a chair at the gate and missed repeated PA announcements calling her to board her flight.
Her flight left without her. Eventually, she woke up and realized she had missed her flight. She found a British Airways team member and emotionally told the woman what happened. My daughter was very upset with herself. The British Airways employee calmed her down and found out that the next flight home did not leave until the next day. So the woman took my daughter home to her house, made her dinner, gave her a bed to sleep in for the night, made her breakfast in the morning, drove her back to the airport and waited with her until she boarded her flight home. WOW!
Whenever I have the chance to fly with British Airways, I do. They have been my choice over a hundred times (over $250,000 worth of business).
As you begin to build your story, be aware that it’s not only about what but also why. It should be full of action verbs that describe your values.
It’s so extremely important that your story encompass your values.
And I’m not talking about those values you see in every office boardroom or hallway entrance, saying things like “integrity, respect, communication, excellence, customer, etc.”
Values are more than words on the wall. In fact, the best organizations in the world bring them to life—just like the British Airways team member in the story above who brought the values to life. They revere behaviors and actions by team members that are living the values. The values are written in statements that people get so it is easy to live them. Simply putting the word “integrity” on the wall means different things to different people. So here’s what I suggest to you: Instead of just writing the word “integrity,” write a sentence describing what integrity means to you, for example: “You always do the right thing for our team, our customers and our shareholders.” By creating and writing your values like this, people understand them much better, and will follow them much more easily.
In other words, creating a story for you and your company is very important—even more so that your story reflects who you are, what your company means to you, and why you have chosen to do what you are doing.
Unlocked: Finding the Key to Practical Leadership