On Leadership and Laundry Tags
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Your Leadership Love Cup - By Tom Schulte
I see you walking from your car in the parking lot to the front door of the building at work in the morning. I see how you greet people at the front desk and how your friendly smile matches what you are wearing on most days. As you make your way through the corridors and hallways, I see how your polish and shine all work together well, even when you are a bit stressed or have some daily concerns showing on your face. When you come into the meetings to give your presentations, I see that you are pretty well-organized and your presentations stay on target and rarely go over time. I see that you are alert, courteous, and have great posture for someone your age.
You usually eat the fruit instead of the bagels at meetings, and you always get two napkins in case someone around you forgot theirs.
And you have a really cool umbrella.
I see a lot about you. These mental notes that I take about you, well... I do that with everyone. That's my job.
My job is a label designer for clothing lines. I notice everything.
As a label designer, my job is to create a "universe of feelings" on something the size of a jumbo postage stamp.
Here is something else I noticed...
If you are a woman, there is an 76% chance that the clothes you are wearing right now are not the first clothes you put on this morning. Your tried on something else and then changed your mind. And there is a 19% chance that you tried on two outfits before selecting the one you are wearing now.
If you are a guy, there is a 94% chance that you NEVER change from the first clothes you put on in the morning. You are going with your first selection.
Either way, once you've got your game face on for the day and head into the office, you have decided on your outer package and you are that "universe of feeling" on a life-sized-walking-talking-postage-stamp. You are Brand You.
But that is just your outer label.
Yeah, I see your car, your slim new iPhone, and the recognition you got at last month's quarterly meeting. But those are only the things that others can see, too. To be honest, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands just like you: professional, mostly polished, seemingly together, capable, durable, resilient, blah, blah , blah. To me, those things are pedestrian and observable. Maybe I'm bored, but the outer label thing just is another designer postage stamp to me. I have drawers filled with those, and so does every other desk around here.
I do see the outer brand label when I interact with you, but do you know what I don't see? Because of your outer shell of corporate life that you are cloaked in, I never get to see the label that is much more important than the Brand You label: I never get to see the garment care label.Or what I call your laundry tag.
Handle With Care
So, Brand You looks good in the catalogue. It looks good on you handling meetings and tasks. It even looks good when you are having a bad day. But again, Brand You does not live in a vacuum. Just like your favorite outfits don't live in an empty closet. You live and work in an environment that interacts with Brand Them. And I can probably bet that your handling instructions on the inside tag are not the same as the instructions for Brand Them.
For instance, are you always machine wash cold, tumble dry low, no iron needed? Or are you permanent press, cool iron? Or are you hand wash, line dry? Are you really more durable or more fragile than your exterior telegraphs? How is anyone else to know?
More than a Facade
If others you work with can only see your outer designer label, you can bet that they have no real way of knowinghow to handle you. So, in their mind, you get handled as if you had no care instructions at all. Just like with fabric care, this can be hazardous to your outer brand and you can be destroyed if mishandled. Since you are a real person that needs to be handled in healthy and workable ways, be sure to be more than just a facade to the people you work with. Be sure to show more than your outer polish and impeccable taste. Be real and authentic and self-revealing when the time is right to do so.
When you reveal your care instructions in a professional manner, everyone around you can then have a chance to treat you in accordance with your care instructions. But, you are going to have to be the one to show them. They probably aren't going to be reaching for your tag real soon.
This is not a license to be a crybaby or whiner. This is about being mature enough and confident enough with who you are and how you are made to reveal appropriate stuff that keeps you going strong and lasting long in style.
If you show the way to be self-revealing in a professional manner, you are paving the way to setting a tone that keeps Brand Everybody bright and clean. You can also initiate laundry tag discovery sessions with your teams so that everyone can respect how others need to be handled to be most effective. Bruce Wade of Entrepreneurial Incubator in Capetown, South Africa has a wonderful workshop where he does this exercise with teams.
Be smart and handle people with the care prescription that works for them. Treat them as if they mattered more than your designer clothes. Do this and you will be rewarded many times over!
So, do you know the care instructions of the people on your team? Do you know if you wrinkled someone because you got too hot with them? How do you iron out that issue? How do you create an environment where mutual respect for each other's care instructions is honored? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Your Leadership Love Cup - By Tom Schulte
About the Author: Tom Schulte
RSS for Tom's articles - Visit Tom's website
Author, Speaker, and Executive Trainer Tom Schulte is CEO and CRO (Chief Recalibration Officer) of Recalibrate Professional Development in Atlanta, GA where he fine-tunes professionals for better leadership performance through his interactive values-card sorting experience. With years of leadership development training Fortune 500 leader's with customized programs, he has narrowed his training down to the nuggets that work the best in his fast, fun, and effective Leadership PowerLabs and low-cost train-the-trainer tools designed for breakout sessions, private training, manager's meetings, or interactive keynotes.
He provides short-format "High Impact Leadership Training fit for the Blackberry-Attention-Span."
Tom is also Executive Director of the Linked 2 Leadership Group on LinkedIn. With 11,000+ members joining to engage in Leadership Development, Organizational Health, and Personal & Professional Growth, the group offers free participation in The Leadership Collaboratory: a virtual leadership conference and an ultra-low cost Learn&Grow.tv online education forum that introduced the concept of Micro-TrainingTM.
Tom is a Christian, Husband, and Father of 5 (3 in college and twins entering next year) who lives in Atlanta, GA USA.
Click here to visit Tom's website.
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