Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
I have written before about the distractions that can be associated with chasing a metric versus refining your process. Pursuing a goal that does not provide the foundational impact for success may give you a fleeting accomplishment but is not sustainable or repeatable.
In Operations, we had an initiative to become a World Class Manufacturer. Under that approach, we began a journey pursuing Operational Excellence that we called Tsungani (sun-gah-nee) which is a Cherokee word for “excellence” or “above others”. We established a weekly meeting that was focused on alignment and awareness of the pursuit of excellence that was occurring in our company. It reinforced ownership in the process and active engagement instead of waiting for someone else to do something. This effort culminated in recognition by our customers that we had achieved world-class manufacturing status.
With my recent move to the business side of the company, we decided to change up the Tsungani meetings in order to revitalize and refocus our efforts on the new opportunities that were in front of us, so we revamped these meetings and initiated WIN the Day. The purpose was to reinforce a culture of winning that encourages people to celebrate the little things that move us closer to winning and highlights the role that everyone plays in the game of business.
Winning is something that most people can easily get behind. Besides being fun, people enjoy the recognition and feeling of collaborating that comes with being part of something special. Being part of a team. But the difference between good teams and great teams is the level of trust on which their relationship is founded and the commitment to the successful execution of the process. Whether sports, families, or work, it is the same. But what happens when winning is taken for granted?
During a service award ceremony, a coworker, Dongshun Bai, reflected on his 15 years with our company. Dongshun had made the move from a Sr. Research Chemist in R&D developing products to the role of business development. He spoke to the packed conference room and looked into the camera for those who were attending virtually and said, “If you don’t take a chance, you won’t make a mistake. But if you never take a chance, you never make progress. “It was a pointed challenge to people who may be hanging out in a comfort zone that seems safe but will not help their team win. Eventually, their lack of contribution and engagement to a win, will limit their ability to be happy and impactful.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” Knowing that you are part of the winning process. In my last blog, Are You Even in The Game? I talked about how many people think they are in the game, but they are simply watching it on TV. They’re experiencing the game, the thrills, the struggles, but only from a distance, not from experiencing the real battles and challenges.
Having a desire to win has been a hot topic over the last few years as the sports world has been critical with the Participation Trophy mindset of eliminating competition in order to maintain a certain level of self-esteem. When you apply this to the workplace, there have been many articles about new employees hitting the workforce with expectations of immediate promotion and payoffs which has been viewed as a sense of entitlement. From my perspective, the only victory, the only WIN of value, is when you have the opportunity to compete and earn that win. A forfeit is a hollow victory and one that will not be remembered except in disappointment.
When you consider the challenge that Dongshun raised during his recognition, about “if you never take a chance, you will never make progress” it makes you consider whether people are willing to be part of the game, willing to compete. If you are a new employee with little to no experience, are you willing to put the time and effort in to compete? To enjoy the success and the rewards of a job well done or an accomplishment earned. How many new employees understand that they need to compete? That they are actually in a game. When you step onto a basketball court or into an office, success depends on what you do AND how you make your team better.
But what about the experienced employees? Are they still taking a chance? Are they still making progress? Do they understand what it takes to WIN today versus what it took yesterday? Are they still willing to put in the time necessary to WIN in today’s challenging economic times or do they feel they’ve already made their investment and no longer have to participate or compete? Do they recognize that they are in a game or are they on the sidelines simply observing?
The act of winning doesn’t only show up on the scoreboard, but in the improvements made by individuals and teams. By winning the day, you are not saying it is over, that you have reached the end, but instead that you have worked hard to improve and have helped move your team forward. That your pursuit of excellence was fruitful and that you are better today than you were yesterday. That you are in the game. That you are competing to win. The desire to improve, to have an impact on others and to leave a legacy is what helps you WIN the day and Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.