If you manage people, if you lead a team, go back and ask your team to complete this sentence: I do the best job, I feel most connected to you in an environment that does what? I promise you one of the things they’re going to tell you is where recognition happens, where people get recognized. Because we know that what gets recognized gets repeated; what gets rewarded gets repeated. I promise it works for Fernando, but it works for each and every one of us.
Part of that environment is going to be where I’m appreciated. Because here’s what I’ve learned, there’s not a single person who’s ever received too much legitimate recognition for the good work that they do. Now, some of you have probably had some illegitimate recognition, and I get that; but very few people have ever had too much legitimate recognition for the good work that they do. If you create that environment, then all of the sudden people start connecting. When you invest the time, when you invest the time in people…
Speaker: So if it’s not about crisis, then the other side is about opportunity. Let’s see if we can demonstrate that. Is anyone here the parent of a two-year-old? Anyone there? Yes, son or daughter?
Audience: I have a daughter.
Speaker: What’s her name?
Speaker: Lily. So Lily’s probably about this tall, right?
Audience: That’s about right.
Speaker: About right. Your name is?
Speaker: Kurt. Okay, so here’s the deal. Lily goes in this afternoon to Kurt’s kitchen, and Lily sees the ultimate prize on the top of Kurt’s refrigerator. It is a jar of Double Stuf Oreo cookies. So what do you think Lily is thinking at this point? I mean she’s realizing, right, that every change happens when there’s a clear, compelling vision and the tension that’s created from reality. Lily’s going, “Cookies,” and she’s thinking, I’m this tall. She’s trying to figure out how to bridge that gap, isn’t she?
So what will Lily do to bridge that gap? The short answer is everything, right? I mean do you have to tell Lily, “Hey, think outside the box.” Do you have to say to her, “Be imaginative; try new ideas. Be innovative and change”? No, all you have to do is point to cookies and then get out of the way, right?
Because here’s what happens with change: When people have a clear, compelling vision that’s out there and they realize the reality of that distance between that, the tension takes over and it pulls people to change. Remember I said crisis pushes us to change; opportunity pulls. So here’s the question if you’re a parent. Kurt, do you still have that same problem with Lily if there’s like brussel sprouts up there?
Audience: Not the same problem.
Speaker: Not the same problem at all. So the question for all of us in our businesses is this: What’s on top of your refrigerator, Oreo cookies or brussel sprouts? For all of us as individuals, the question comes down to what’s on top of your refrigerator, Oreo cookies or brussel sprouts? If the vision isn’t clear and compelling and just grabs you…
See, most of us don’t change because we don’t know why it’s important. I mean when we’re trying to get people to change, here’s what they want to know if you work for an organization. Here’s what people want to know: First off, they want to know what the change is, from what to what; from what to what. Well, you and I want to know the same thing. We’re changing from what to what.
The second thing they want to know is how does it affect them? Are we giving them cookies or are we giving them brussel sprouts? How’s it going to affect them? The third thing they want to know is what do you think about it; what do you as a leader think about it?
One of the things that I think gets in the way of accountability, and the courage of accountability begins when leaders say, “I have to be willing to put myself out there, to be uncomfortable, to talk to people.” You have to be persistent. You have to be relentless about looking for those behaviors and that type of performance that advances your vision and shows that people are living your values that it gets people moving in the right direction, and it’s hard.
But just because you have to be relentless doesn’t mean that you need to be brutal. You don’t have to be brutal about it. You’ve just got to be relentless, and the quicker you do it, the less chances are that you’re going to get angry. Because it’s a lot easier to talk very positively about a 79-cent problem rather than one that’s been going on for three months and has now frustrated you to no end and what you really want to do is choke somebody, don’t you? So if we want accountability from others, we have to be willing to confront ourselves.
The third thing is this…