When I started writing for The Signal, I made a vow that I would project optimism and positivity in my writings and focus on leadership and best business practices. Today’s column will be no different. I‘ll start with a memory of a speech given to the University of Texas at Austin Class of 2014 by Admiral William McRaven, former special operations commander. The premise of his speech was if you want to change the world, make your bed in the morning! He since capitalized on this speech and wrote a New York Times Best Seller, titled the same, postulating that doing little things that are an expression of discipline positions you for success. A peeve of his was to leave your quarters without making your bed!
When I was leading multiple companies and conducting interviews for aspiring executives wanting to join the team, some would fittingly ask me what my pet peeves were. I reminisced with them on the peeves I held for decades in the Army and corporate world. I told them in addition to one of my value expectations, always telling the truth, they were to be on time, stay engaged, put forth the effort, and be responsive. I assured them respecting, adhering and promoting these peeves undoubtedly increases and sustains team morale and productivity.
Be On Time
Being on time is a self-discipline that ripples through an organization. Few things are more disruptive to meetings than some of the required attendees showing up late without notification or a reasonable cause. Tardiness tempers the meeting’s momentum and distracts the attendees’ focus. Hall of Fame Coach Vince Lombardi understood this principle, and his Super Bowl championship Green Bay Packer players got used to Lombardi time, which was showing up 15 minutes before the start of his meeting, otherwise suffer the consequences! If you want high morale and productivity, adopt Lombardi time in your organization.
Second to showing up late for a meeting is not remaining engaged. COVID-19 has produced virtual meetings and given us the luxury to multitask while attending. Cameras are off, and we succumb to temptation and read and respond to texts or tweets while the meeting goes on. We lose focus and become disengaged. I’m often asked to speak at events and am surprised by the number of attendees fiddling with their phones while other guest speakers or I talk. Their heads aren’t in the game! Staying engaged with others is a self-discipline that ripples through an organization. If you want high morale and productivity, pocket your phone, stop multitasking, and remain engaged with your team.
Put Forth the Effort
I learned so many things from my parents about life. However, besides telling the truth, always putting forth effort in whatever you pursue was a family axiom. In essence, I was graded on the amount of effort I devoted to the task at hand, and I’ve used this same yardstick at every level in my professional life — both in evaluating myself and others on the team. Effort is one of those things that can catch fire. You show the discipline to put forth your level best effort, and you’ll find your leaders and teammates doing the same. It’s contagious! If you want high morale and productivity on your team, then reward effort.
Clients come to us disgruntled because their constituents aren’t responsive, and they spend an extraordinary amount of time chasing down answers. Every day, just like you, I’m bombarded with emails offering quick-fix solutions to every problem I don’t have. My LinkedIn message icon constantly pings with good-natured and often interesting proposals to solve every type of business challenge imaginable. All I must do is schedule a 15-minute call using their calendar link to access the solution! These are distractions you can quickly cull through in minutes. However, constituents directly or indirectly impact business and require timely responses to their queries. Even if the answer is, “I’m underwater right now, and as soon as I come up for air, I’ll return your call or email.” If you want high morale and productivity on your team, show self-discipline and respond to your constituents, and in turn, they will respond to you when a need arises.
As Admiral McRaven so eloquently delivered to a standing ovation and graduating class at UT Austin in 2014, if you want to change the world, start by making your bed and complete the first task of the day! Self-discipline positions you for success, and you can bump up your team’s morale and productivity by establishing and enforcing standards throughout the organization to be on time, get and stay engaged, put forth the best effort, and be responsive to constituents. This is how you lead, think, plan and act. Now, let’s get after it!
Retired Col. Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions. Paul and Lisa mentor and coach business owners on leadership and management principles in achieving and sustaining their business growth and profitability goals. He can be reached at [email protected].