By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to better focus on your key behavior as a leader. Reading time: 3:56.
You’re a leader. So, what do you do all day?
Walt Disney had an apt answer when a little boy posed that challenging question to the father of Mickey Mouse.
The creator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi , Dumbo and so many more memorable cartoon characters said:
I think of myself
as a little bee.
I go from one area of the studio
to another to gather pollen
and sort of stimulate everybody.”
Pollinating the growth of others is an instructive metaphor for the essence of leadership behavior.
No wonder the most effective leaders wing their way early and often among their staffs. Nothing planned. No meetings scheduled for at least the first hour “in the office.”
Instead they flap their proverbial wings 180 times a second –or an amazing 11,000 times per minute– and soar to a new higher, more developed, more productive level from their father’s version of managing-by-walking around.
Their series of impromptu interactions, always on their staff’s turf either in their workstations or in the hallways, are quick and pithy. It only seems like they’re trying to match a bee’s pollination proclivity in visiting up to 5,000 flowers a day.
Leaders who take that first hour of the day To Bee can save themselves an additional six hours worth of headaches by stemming problems in the bud.
At least that’s the estimate of one manufacturing leader who earned his wings as a Busy Bee for the first hour of his workday, out and about.
In his impromptu visits, he would gauge the morale of his troops; assess the production/labor demand levels; anticipate workflow changes; aleviate the proverbial boils in aggrieved employees and genuinely care for a grieving employee back on the job after burying her husband of 32 years last week or an employee struggling with a new assignment, or an employee needing extra training etc.
This kind of leading by flying around like a bee is a learned skill. So too is your flight path when you ‘re on a pollinating mission spreading key information around so that it blossoms in multiple locations.
Bees hardy fly by the seat of their pants. In fact, bees learn how to orient themselves with the sun to find direction. Research shows that a bee takes 500 trips outside the hive before a bee knows the path of the sun.
You don’t have to conduct that many practice runs of course but you do have to prepare yourself to be equipped to pollinate, to stimulate flowers to open up to you, to flag you down with their own spectacular colors the way Mother Nature does.
How do you parlay your pollinating power as a leader? Turn off your cell phone and put on something more than smiling face . Take off your proverbial sunglasses. Look people in the eye. Your eyes speak long before you do.
Think of your eyes as if they were like safety headlights that you switch on no matter how bright it is outside. Those headlights shine for THEM to better see you coming not to help you see where you’re heading. And take notes. One plant manager earned a reputation for writing on his hands and his arms whenever he forgot his small pocket notebook. The symbolism was critical.
Writing down what an employee asked the leader to follow up on– from a need for quicker tool changes on the job to clarification how the company could help him pay for an adoption etc.– demonstrated respect to that employee and by inference respect to all employees.
It’s that mutual respect that galvanize the relationship between the bee and the flower. Each has something the other needs.
But it’s up to the leader fly up close and personal, without carrying any personal baggage, and visiting each of his or her employees every day or at shift change for a few minutes at a certain hour–either first thing in the morning or at shift change –just like flowers are pollinated. With regularity. With consistency. With a sense of mission.
And with your wings well-earned to Bee a leader.
Pollinate your staff to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day. It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.