Put the Spinach in the Brownie

Raising kids is one of life’s big moments (lots of them). Anyone who has been a parent knows that we want our kids to eat healthy food. But the best foods for proper nourishment and vitamins are not always the most appealing. Or fun to eat.

Take broccoli and spinach for example. What kid really craves chomping down on those?

Parents have to get creative. Thus the phrase in the title ‘put the spinach in the brownie.’

Leaders are Parents too

People in roles of responsibility leading work teams are often faced with having to do the right thing. But sometimes, the right thing is not the popular or fun thing to do.

It’s like having to eat our spinach at work.

So, like a good parent, a good leader finds ways to make the change happen by altering the approach. They put the spinach in the brownie.

Here are some examples:

Asking someone to work overtime – can be a tough one, especially when you are very familiar with the person’s family situation. But they are critical to a project or task that is necessary to meet a deadline.

You can soften the news by first acknowledging the situation from top to bottom. Reinforce their value to the project. Be sincere, not overly fluffy or sugary. People see through that.

Leverage their sense of duty and obligation to the cause, the project, and the company. Be gracious in allowing them to respond. Lastly, you can offer tradeoffs for comp time or other alternate benefits in trade for overtime. (Of course honor the local laws you must follow in paying for overtime).

Giving honest feedback – this is an area where many managers simply fail. The right word at the right time can make a difference. Therefore effective feedback is time-bound. You have to speak it in the moment, but be careful. Public display is not advised. You need to arrange the proper moment to give your feedback.

You can’t wait a week or a month to say “Gee, George, that thing you did last month needs work.” One of the best explanations about leaders giving and receiving feedback is covered in one of my podcast interviews with Glade Holman.

Announcing a Change – people hate change. We’ve heard that all our lives. Yes, change can be hard. As a leader, you will always be faced with making changes whether within your team, for your business, or a host of other matters.

Effectively managing change requires constant, robust communication. The real problem with change is the initial chaos it creates (See my article on Change and Progress). Leaders who provide ample opportunity for dialogue and discussion about the change can head off problems before they arise.

Answering people’s questions (even the ones they won’t ask) helps to smooth the pain of change.

Stay Calm – the best leaders show up with a sense of calm despite a big storm swirling around them. People want a leader who has this calm. Never too high and never too low. Just steady as she goes.

It’s one thing to get excited about opportunity and advancement. Yet it’s something else to get agitated and hostile if things aren’t going your way.

The best leaders know the balance for demonstrating their feelings about the business around them. Don’t let people see you sweat the small stuff. And as was once said, when you really think about it, most everything is small stuff.

The Thoughtful Leader

Great leaders stay one step ahead. As John Maxwell says:

“A Leader sees more than everyone else, and they see it before everyone else.”

You too can be a better leader by taking time to think ahead. Take a serious look at where you and your team stand. Invest in time to think forward a few steps. You may not have the high-caliber strategic planning capabilities of big corporations, but you can certainly do some planning ahead.

By being able to respond to a change in circumstance rather than react to it, you will make everything more palatable for your team.

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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