I like Chick-fil-A. The food is tasty, and the energy is contagious.

Last week while dining with a friend, I inquired about the energy with a couple of employees.

One who is particularly perky and always equipped with a hearty, “My pleasure!” brought our food outside where we sat shaded by a big red umbrella.

 “Do you ever feel not as energetic as your role requires you to be?”

“Sure,” she said, “we all have those days.”

The second employee, tasked to wiping condensation from the tables and opening all the big red umbrellas, was next.

I inquired about their training. “What all is involved in training with this company? What are the principles of this company?”

“Three things,” she said,

  1. “Make eye contact
  2. Smile
  3. Be polite.”

She went on to describe how building relationships with customers helps to bring them back for more kindness food. “We want them coming back,” she said.

Well, that’s one of the main reasons I come back:

When I described the work we do by raising awareness, building joy, and supporting conscious leadership, the second employee made the connection that her managers do that.

When employees are having a difficult day, managers go straight toward that energy, by noticing we’re not ourselves, and providing support.

No punishment. No condemnation. No annoyance, or frustration, or even rescuing.

Just support.

Oh hey, I notice you’re not yourself today.

How’s is everything going?

I’m here for you.

This isn’t always a popular stance for leaders who have boundaries to be made or feel a need to uphold an image. Too much vulnerability could be viewed as weak and less competent.

Image can really trap us.

So how does a leader of a large company or organization cultivate energy for creativity and innovation at this level?

Peter Sheahan suggests two things:

  1. Develop and cultivate an openness on your teams.
  2. This requires first that leaders are vulnerable themselves.

So to really cultivate an innovative, present and engaged culture (what we call level six), start with the “real you.”

Begin with a safe person, someone who has earned your trust, and share what you feel.

It’s that simple.

And it’s that difficult.

Leaders who come to a place where they don’t cringe sharing their own vulnerability (or they cringe and are courageous anyway), can be present to the energy of others.

When the culture values eye contact, smiling, politeness, and openness even when we don’t always feel like doing what our role requires, there will be someone (maybe it’s you) who will put your arm around another and embrace the highs and lows of life with a hearty, “My pleasure!”

Reflect: What’s the cost of not being vulnerable with your colleagues or team? What feels like the cost of opening up?

Rachel is a Certified Professional Coach with a Masters Degree in Counseling. She coaches professionals through important decisions so their minds are clear to move forward in life and in business. 

Check out our Inspired Leadership team website to learn more.


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