Playing the Name Game For Gain

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you enhance your staff’s performance. Reading time: 3:46.

        Nicknames, strategically designed and thoughtfully assigned,  can be a leadership tool that brings out the best in others.

         After all, nicknames can reinforce a reputation. Think of Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan Jackson. You know him as Stonewall Jackson.

       Nicknames can celebrate exemplary performance. Think of former NFL football running back and wide receiver, Elroy Hirsch. Fans of yesteryear knew him as Crazy Legs.

      And nicknames – rooted in an act of faith deep within a leader’s gut feel for another –can inspire a change in behavior that surprises and delights. Think of the prostitute Aldonza. You know her as Dulcinea – the Sweet One—in The Man From La Mancha.

      Aldonza, you may recall, protested the first time Don Quixote called her The Sweet One –Dulcinea.

                  Firmly confined in her prostitute role, Aldonza  says she was born in a pile of horse manure and she will die in a pile of horse manure. But Quixote persisted in his belief in Dulcinea.

           And she begins to behave differently. She begins performing acts of compassion for her worst enemies. Then after Quixote dies, someone calls her Aldonza. The play ends with her single statement: “My name is Dulcinea.”

Nicknames Can Bring Out the Best In Others

      As a leader, how do you develop and apply this act of faith?

     How do you anoint your staff with meaningful nicknames that positively impact their performance and your bottom line?

      How do you cultivate the hidden Dulcinea’s on your staff, those staffers known only superficially and often for something less than perfect performance in their past?

      Study your staff  thoroughly rather than simply react to their current behavior.  And when you study them, don’t be limited by your eyesight as Johnny Depp explains as the lead character in the movie Don Juan DeMarco .

     Look more widely, more comprehensively, more astutely than merely with your eyes. Search out the beauty within.

    Leadership Is An Act of Faith

     In the movie, Don Juan DeMarco, Depp tells his psychiatrist –played by Marlon Brando– that his alluring influence over women stems from their:

“sense that I search out their beauty
that is within them—
until it overwhelms everything else.

And then they cannot avoid that desire to release that beauty
and envelope me in it.”

      Forget the sexual overtones here. The key point is to focus on POSITIVE behaviors. It’s easy to find something wrong. The key is finding something POSITIVE in a staff member whose performance levels have fallen.

        It may take an act of faith to find SOMETHING positive in that staff member. But that’s what leaders do—they search “for the beauty within” as Don Juan DeMarco asserts.

    Indeed, leadership is an act of faith that brings out the best in others.

     Leaders breathe life into others. Leaders infuse others with a greater sense of purpose, dignity and worth.

     And that leadership of giving life, of breathing life, of instilling life, can erupt with all the passion of a Pygmalion. Or a Dulcinea.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Give your staff positive nicknames to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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