Why Leaders Don’t Need Parrots

Parrots

 

When I first became a CEO, I noticed something strange.

In a meeting, I was suddenly funnier.  The slightest hint at humor could erupt the room into laughter.  I was also smarter.  And my arguments were more persuasive.   Heads would bob up and down as I made a point.

Obviously my new title didn’t bestow some magical gift of brilliance.  What it provided was positional power, and people were reacting to the position.

Immediately, I knew what happened.  It took me longer to figure out what to do about it.

I’d seen this much earlier in my career when people would “parrot” the CEO.  I call it the Parrot Principle.  To get along and be accepted, some find it’s just easier to parrot the CEO than to think critically, to argue, or to be independent.  Why rock the boat when you can just agree and repeat what you’re told?

The cause is usually fear.  Fear of losing a job or of not being in the inner circle.  It’s also a symptom of a culture needing change.

Parrot Principle

Because of a lack of self-confidence, a fear of job loss, or an extreme need for acceptance, it is easier to agree with the boss than to advance a different point of view.

The result is usually what I call a “pocket veto” where people nod in a meeting, then go outside and talk about what they really believe.  It’s bad for everyone.  The company is not served well.  The CEO may not even realize what’s happening.  And the parrot is building distrust throughout the organization.

It’s not just the new CEO who faces this problem.  It’s almost any new position of power.  If others are dependent on you, you can be vulnerable to the Parrot Principle.

So what can you do about it?

Commitment: What will you do no matter what?

Photo by hectorir on flickr.

When you make a commitment, especially one to yourself, you begin to energize your mind in a way that opens new doors of possibility.

A commitment starts the engine of the subconscious mind.  It takes a dream or an idea, and begins the process of turning it into reality.  Mixed with discipline, commitment shapes the future.

Steve Jobs is known for a lot of his attributes, but one of them was his commitment.  He was committed to excellence.  There’s one story about him opening up an Apple computer, looking inside and making the team start over.  You can hear the conversation:

Steve:  That’s ugly.

Engineer:  Who cares what the PC board looks like?  The only thing that’s important is how well that it works.  Nobody is going to see the PC board.

Steve:  I’m gonna see it!  I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box.  A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of the cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it.

That’s commitment.

9 Traits of Effective Employee Feedback

Photo by mydigitalSLR on flickr.

One of the most important jobs of a manager is to provide feedback.  And it’s not just advice from the boss.  Whether you’re raising kids or leading a team project, feedback is a critical tool for success.

Effective feedback has nine elements.  They are:

1.  Continual

If you work for a boss who gives you little to no feedback all year long, then you know the dreaded process.  You fill out a performance review form.  You schedule a meeting with your boss.  You sit down and wait to see what will happen.  You have no idea what to expect.  You may be nervous, anxious or just plain curious about what she will say.

An effective boss doesn’t wait for performance review time to give feedback.  It’s a continual process.  I’ve found the most effective feedback is given during informal times—over a cup of coffee or lunch.  You have the opportunity to have a discussion about something.

2.  Supportive

7 Steps of Crisis Leadership

Photo by krystenn on flickr.

It happens.

A crisis.  A major problem.  A disaster.

If it hasn’t happened to you, my guess is that it will.  Most all of us will find a time in our careers when we are right in the middle of it.

Several times in my career, I’ve found myself in difficult situations.  For me, I find it may be stressful, but also energizing at the same time.  At least a crisis is a reason to take quick, decisive action because a lot is on the line.

What do you do when you find yourself in a really tough situation?

7 Customer Service Strategies for an Amazing Customer Experience

It’s Customer Service Week making it an ideal time to review your customer service strategy.

Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the world’s authorities on the customer experience.  Shep Hyken is an author, speaker, and consultant to some of the world’s largest companies.  He is a member of the National Speakers Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement and is a member of the distinguished Speaker’s Roundtable.  His books include The Loyal Customer, Moments of Magic, and the bestselling books The Cult of the Customer and his latest The Amazement Revolution.

In The Amazement Revolution, Shep outlines seven powerful strategies to increase customer and employee loyalty.  As Shep says, the Amazement Revolution is, “The strategic decision to remake your organization or your team based on the principle of amazement.”

It seems simple, but it’s profound.  What if you and your organization really remade everything in your company around creating an AMAZING customer experience?  What would happen?