On Thursday, 30th January I attended a presentation in the Donaghies Community School. I’ve an ongoing connection with the school – with a focus on getting as many as the young students as possible to continue their education – to apprenticeships, PLC’s, College or University. The school is in a mixed area, working class and lower middle class. Coming from a similar area, I have a bit of ‘street cred’ with the kids and their parents and never tire of making the point that the difference between ‘going’ and ‘not-going’ to college is just over €1 million lifetime earnings (it can actually be much higher, but this is an easy number to remember).
Prize Giving: The purpose of the night was to celebrate student achievement. Of course, the usual suspects were there – the best and the brightest – those kids that are easy to teach. But this annual ceremony reaches well beyond this cadre – with awards for sports achievements (huge buzz), environmental impact, robotics, community work and so on. Over 100 individual prizes – all wrapped into an efficient 1.5 hour ceremony in which the students performed live music and an inspirational former student (now a Trinity Scholar) came back to talk about her experience of college. Underpinning these success stories was a bucket of perspiration. To cite just one example: some teachers had been coming into work, voluntarily, at 6:30 am to work with the Gaelic Teams. They trained. Had breakfast. Then went to class. Think about that level of commitment the next time you’re moaning about getting up on dark mornings or slagging ‘public sector’ workers for low productivity.
So What? How does this have anything to do with you? What struck me forcefully is that everyone wants to feel like a winner, to have a ‘moment in the sun’. And it’s not just school kids. The market for positive feedback is never saturated. The question is: how often do you celebrate success? Do you make a fuss when someone on your team accomplishes something? Perhaps you’re too busy organizing their next challenge? For sure there will always be superstars, the Ronaldo’s of the office or factory. But most people are journeymen, doing their best. Here’s the rub. You don’t have to wait till someone ‘builds the pyramids’ before cracking open the champagne. Even ordinary people like to feel extra-ordinary every now and then. And, that’s where you come in.
Leadership Role: The definition of a manager is someone who gets their work done through others. In motivational terms, are your team standing erect or dragging their knuckles along the ground? Quick reminder: It’s your job to move them up the gears. Get your head out of those stupid emails and start to reconnect with your real job – inspiring the people who work for you. Perhaps take a leaf from the book of Alex Gorsky (CEO of Johnson & Johnson) whose favourite interview question is: “Tell me about four people whose careers you have made better.” Stop being an overpaid Marketing (or Finance or HR or Operations) Director and start becoming an organization leader. That’s the challenge. Because, when you discover how to celebrate success in a sincere way, you unlock a performance turbo-charger. This weeks letter = C for Celebration. Only Managerial Muppets don’t understand this.
PS Lighter Moment 1: Future Vision: David Moyes (Manager of Manchester United, who are not doing well this season) said last week: “I’m looking forward to getting the team into the biggest competition in Europe next year – even if I have to write the song myself”!
PS Lighter Moment 2: (thanks to John McGlynn – an unending source of amusement).
Mother-in-law arrives home from the shops to find her son-in-law Paddy in a steaming rage and hurriedly packing his suitcase.
“What happened Paddy?” she asks anxiously.
“What happened! I’ll tell you what happened. I sent an email to my wife telling her I was coming home today from my fishing trip. Then I get home… and guess what I found? Yes, your daughter, my wife Jean, naked with Joe Murphy in our marital bed! This is unforgivable, the end of our marriage. I’m done. I’m out of here!”
“Ah now, calm down, calm down Paddy!” says his mother-in-law. “There is something very odd going on here. Jean would never do such a thing! There must be a simple explanation. I’ll speak to her immediately and find out what happened.”
Moments later, the mother-in-law comes back with a big smile.
“Paddy. I told you there must be a simple explanation … she never got your E-mail!”
PS Lighter Moment 3: Up the Dubs!
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