By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you better engage others to follow your direction. Reading time: 3:45
I was 10 years old. My dad took me to see an historic baseball game at Yankee Stadium. And I learned something that had nothing to do with the game that day about leadership that still sticks with me. Call it a gut feeling, a gut feeling that could be helpful to you even today in engaging your staff in a new project or initiative.
The New York Yankees were hosting Ted Williams and the Boston Red Sox. This is the same Ted Williams, who in 1941 became the last professional baseball player to hit over .400 in a single season, a record so remarkable that it still stands today 71 years later!
Ted Williams would retire later that season. In the summer of 1960, the famed No. 9 slugger was playing one of his last games. History in the making.
And adding still more luster to this baseball dream day: Mickey Mantle, the home-running hitting star of the New York Yankees.
This was truly a historic game for any baseball fan, a chance to see two super star sluggers.
And yet I was only interested in one person that Saturday afternoon. And he wasn’t even on the playing field. But he did have a uniform. And he had great game-day chatter. “Get your Red Hots here .” Yep, The hot dog vendor. That’s all cared about –even though I had two of the great masters of the game playing right before my eyes, all I cared about were the hot dogs. My dad never let me forget that as I got older and realized what an opportunity I had squandered– and later what a key leadership lesson I learned.
Factoring In Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs
Yet in my defense, I was just a hungry kid at Yankee Stadium. My hunger grabbed my attention away from the field –away from the hot dogs hustling on the field– and toward the hot dogs sizzling in the stands. And I was tired. We left home at 3:30 in the morning and traveled five hours on a train to get to the Bronx from my upstate New York home in Utica. Sure I had something to eat on the train, but by 2 pm I was hungry. Besides, the smell of those hot dogs seemed to overpower my sense of the sports history being made at Yankee Stadium that Saturday afternoon.
I can still smell those proverbial hot dogs ever now and then whenever I am getting ready to unveil a new initiative to my team. Sure know the significance of it, even the inherent value in it. But I now I remember only too well that my staff may first need their proverbial hot dogs.
After all we leaders can easily get too passionate too soon about a project. And no wonder. We leaders already have a vested interest in it—we have been imbued with the significance and meaning of the new initiative from the president of the company –or may you are the president of the company. Indeed, we may know too much.
That’s why the most effective leaders I know initially back off their enthusiasm for the project . They look at this new initiative from their staff’s point of view. They embrace Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They understand the importance of filling ourselves and others full BEFORE we even think about fulfilling ourselves and others. They understand the value in providing food BEFORE food for thought.
So what’s the gut feeling I learned that day at Yankee Stadium? The hot dog vendor will always distract your staff’s attention from the hot dogs on the field of play. Even super stars like a Ted Williams or Mickey Mantle. Without your feedback of the culinary kind. On time. Become a servant leader of the basic kind.
Feed your staff what they need so you get what you want to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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