Several years ago, I was conducting observations at an elementary school when I noticed a kindergarten class exit their room on the way to the playground. The teacher being the first to leave clearly had a frustrated look on her face, while the children followed behind her in a straight line, for a moment she looked like the pied piper. While watching I saw that the teacher assistant [TA] was the last to leave, although she remained at the door instead of following the students out. When she noticed my presence, she motioned for me to come over; as I approached, she directed my attention into the room. What I saw was a little boy curled up in the fetal position under his chair. The TA iterated they had exhausted everything they knew to make the boy go outside and play.

I was curious, so I entered the room, and fully dressed in a navy blue suit, laid on the the dirty floor and struck up a conversation. Several minutes passed as we talked about fishing, his brothers and sisters and sports, I found him to be very personable. At this point I told the boy that he had huge muscles, grinning he climbed out from under the chair and flexed them, making sure I admired them fully. Oh, how I bragged about them, much to his delight, and I said to him, “I bet you are a fantastic basketball player with those arms.” “I sure am, was the reply, do you want to see?” He grabbed me by the hand and led me outside into a hot September afternoon to play.

I then realized leaders exhaust time and energy trying to make their employees change in ways that is just not in their nature. Indeed, we create procedures and policies and plans for improvement to mold our staff into what we believe is the perfect employee. However, as many a spouse will confirm, you really cannot make meaningful and long lasting changes to the personality and character of a person. Albeit, you may recognize your employees conform to recommendations in an improvement plan, with thorough analysis you may find the actions only take place when you are around.

Therefore, I believe it is the duty of any leader to clearly communicate, motivate, and inspire your staff to reach inside and be the very best at how they are gifted. Project your confidence and commitment with them, providing an opportunity for creativity to flourish. In doing so you will observe greater changes in productivity, loyalty and happiness in the workplace.

I never pressed for what the teacher was demanding; I motivated the child to produce the desired result. I am sure that hot afternoon I looked disheveled; however, the lesson I learned was PRICELESS.


Further Reading – 5 Magic Questions Leaders Should Ask