Own up. Who doesn’t love Teddys? (to put your mind at ease, I’m not talking about the Ann Summers Autumn catalogue). So, here’s a recent Teddy Bear story as told by a client…
Teachers Pet: My client has a young son, who is attending junior school. Honestly, managing a classroom filled with 30 kids under 5 years old is not my idea of heaven. I could barely manage my own 3 when they were smaller. So, it’s hardly surprising that teachers have a couple of ‘devices’ to keep kids well behaved. In this particular case, the teacher used a Teddy Bear. The ruse was as follows: Every afternoon, just before the end of class, the Teddy ‘whispers’ in the teachers ear and tells her who was the best child that day. The child then gets to bring the Teddy home for the night and bring it back into class the next day. Apparently, there is great excitement as ‘Teddy’ pronounces the winner (I know quite a few executives who’d make a solid financial offer for that Teddy to escape the drudgery of annual performance appraisals).
Everyone’s A Winner: The core idea here is that Teddy is supposed to be even-handed. He goes to every child in the class over time. In that way, each of the kids feels like a winner – being selected for something that they are good at. Teddy is not supposed to stay with 1 or 2 of the really good kids. It’s a mechanism for social control, not an actual reward for ‘goody-goody’ behaviour or ‘cleverness’. If he was a singer, Teddy’s party piece would be the Hot Chocolate hit ‘Everyone’s A Winner Baby’.
Confused Teacher: Now, somehow this particular teacher got confused about the core concept. The result was that one or two kids kept getting Teddy all the time and the ‘non-teddy-winners’ (like my clients’ son) started to get upset. I’m reliably informed that a couple of the ‘concerned mammies’ held a strategic meeting in Starbucks. They then had a quiet word with the young teacher. As the bearer of good news, I am happy to report that a great ‘Teddy Bear Disaster’ was skillfully averted.
Executive Role: In the world of work we all play a role. Some people are lead singers in the band. Some are stage crew putting up the lights, painting the backdrop or hauling out the trash. No one type of worker is more important than others – we all have a place in the show. I wrote about this before but it’s worth repeating. When my daughter Amie was in a school play she was placed at the back of the stage so her ‘singing voice’ could not be heard (yes, we are a talented family!). Anyway, the song lyrics were as follows: “We’re in the chorus, we stand in a row. We all have talent, in case you don’t know”. Human psychology is crystal clear on this point. We all want to get a hold of that Teddy in the form of recognition for doing (something) well.
Now, that’s where you come in. It’s your job to catch people doing something right. And to pass on the Teddy in the form of a sincere compliment or recognition for effort. The leadership guru John C. Maxwell said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Being a leader is not all about you. It’s about leveraging the behaviours of the people who report to you and their teams. Deploy the Teddy as part of your leadership skills. Just don’t let the same people take it home every night. Even if they are star traders/engineers/creatives/salespeople (delete as appropriate).
PS Lighter Note (sticking with the same overall theme). Bear with me here…
What did the Teddy say when he was offered a second helping? “No thanks; I’m already stuffed!”
From Canada: Campaigns to bear-proof all garbage containers in wild areas have been difficult because, as one biologist put it, “There is a considerable overlap between the intelligence levels of the smartest bears and the intelligence levels of the dumbest tourists.”
A couple of hunters from Prague were out hunting. All of a sudden an enormous bear ran up and in a single gulp devoured one of them. Miraculously, the swallowed hunter remained alive but trapped in the belly of the Grizzly. The second hunter ran back to town and organized a rescue party, and they headed back to the woods. The party soon spotted two bears on the horizon and started shooting at the bear closest to them. ”No, not that one,” shouted the second hunter. “That’s the female. The Czech is in the male.”
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