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YOU CAN’T SEND A DUCK TO EAGLE SCHOOL

September 12, 2013 4 comments

“YOU CAN’T SEND A DUCK TO EAGLE SCHOOL”

In browsing the teamwork section of a website for professional and personal growth I found the above book by Mac Anderson that captured my attention. In it he focuses on some important steps you can take to improve your business.

Mr. Anderson says: “my goal with this little book is to share some of my “lessons learned” in a brief, but engaging way. Because so many times, it’s not what is said, but how it is said, that turns the switch from off to on. For me, one of the most exciting things about business and life is that one great idea can change our life forever.”

This first excerpt I’ve included relates to employee relations:

“There is one question that every employee will love to have you ask … What can I do to help? So many times as leaders, we assume we’re doing all we can do, however, these 6 words:

“What can I do to help?” will usually prove your assumptions are dead wrong.

The question should address three areas:

1. What can I do to help you serve the customer better?
2. What can I do to make your working environment better?
3. What can I do to help you better balance your work and family life?

Obviously, it’s important to let them know up front that you may not be able to help with everything they ask, but you’ll do what you can. In other words, a chauffer to and from work is probably out of the question.

You’ll usually be amazed to hear about a few small things that will cost you next to nothing. You may find they need a new file cabinet, their chair is uncomfortable, they need flex-hours 1 day a week, a new headset for the phone, or a small space heater in the winter months.

The truth is, the fact that you’ve taken the time to listen to their personal concerns is far more important in their eyes than what you’ll “do” for them.

Gallop polled over I million employees who thought they had a great boss and asked them one question. Why? You got it! The number one reason was the boss was willing to listen to what they had to say.

Never forget:

It’s the little things not the big ones that will earn the respect of your people.”

The second excerpt isn’t quite as easy to implement as it is about recognizing your strengths/weaknesses and surrounding yourself with the right people in the right positions to keep the company moving in the direction you are reaching for.

He says:

“One of the biggest reasons many leaders fail is their unwillingness to accept their limitations. Ego gets in the way. They feel they’re smart enough to do it all, and mistakenly feel that what they don’t know they can learn “on the fly.” So many times it’s a recipe for disaster, especially for entrepreneurs.

Walt Disney failed many times early in his career. He had brilliant ideas, but his ability to execute them was painfully lacking.

He also, believe it or not, was a lousy artist. So after the third failure,
Disney was finally convinced that to succeed he must surround himself with great artists who could bring his animation ideas to life. He also needed his brother, Roy, to handle the financial side of the business. These two moves made all the difference and freed Walt up to do what he did best, which was using his imagination to plan their future.

I can definitely relate to the Disney story. From 1991-93 we were on a roll at “Successories”. We had gone from $5 million to $45 million in three years. Then came 1994, and Murphy’s Law hit us like a ton of bricks. We had grown too fast and no longer had the right people or infrastructure to handle it. Early in 1995, I realized that I had to make significant changes. After a lot of soul searching, I realized my strengths were people skills and creativity; however, my weaknesses were operations and accounting. To grow the business and rebuild the infrastructure, I had to hire good people who had been there and done that, people who could complement what I did best. This was a very painful wake-up call, but I learned some of the most valuable lessons of my life.”

We can all take a lesson or two from Mr. Anderson and learn to ask the question of “What can I do to help?” and also realize that we can’t “do it all”, should acknowledge our strengths, and understand our weaknesses to build the team that will drive our business success.

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