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Leadership 101: WLAO, TLAC

What in the world does “Leadership 101: WLAO, TLAC” mean?

Eight words: Work Like An Owner, Think Like A Customer.

Leadership 101: I’m convinced if every leader could instill this type of thinking in themselves and in the teams they lead, it could totally transform the organizations they lead and the missions they serve.

Leadership 101: First, Work Like An Owner

Marcia Lindsey is one of our managers.  She’s been in charge of our Dallas-area facility since it opened.  Actually, since before it opened.  Originally targeted for a Spring opening several years ago, we hired Marcia in February.  Our plans included having her travel to Austin for two or three weeks to learn our systems, then start running her own facility as soon as it opened.  But it didn’t open. For weeks.  Then months.  And Marcia, at considerable cost to her family and time, continued to drive three hours south to Austin on a weekly basis to learn, grow and contribute.

We finally opened Marcia’s facility in September, months late.  But that didn’t matter to Marcia.  She was committed; she had an “ownership” mentality.

In one of his parables, Jesus described the difference between an owner and a hireling.  An owner, he explained in the Gospel of John, is fully committed to his investment.  No matter the cost, he or she sees things through.  When the risk is the greatest, the owner is at their best.  Ownership is a life-and-death thing.  “When the going is tough, the tough keep going” is the mantra of someone with an ownership mentality.

A hireling, on the other hand, jumps ship as soon as the seas get choppy.  Is the competition getting tougher? Is the marketplace changing? Is it harder and harder to do the job?  “When the going gets tough, a hireling gets going” – off to “greener pastures” where the going isn’t so tough.

Leader – are you an owner, or a hireling?

Leadership 101: Second, think like a customer

The Green Mill restaurant is in Shoreview, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.  I had dinner at the Green Mill recently while on a business trip.  The restaurant shares the parking lot with the hotel I was staying at, the temperature outside was below 10 degrees, and I didn’t feel like going to dinner any place that required more than a 3-minute walk.  So I found myself at the Green Mill.

And I found myself amazed at the service!  First of all, when I walked in, the hostess asked me if I wanted a seat in the bar area where there were big screen televisions.  She suspected that I, as a single patron who walked over from the hotel, was on my own on a business trip and might enjoy watching Monday Night Football (which I did).

Secondly, I enjoyed a very good pizza at the Green Mill, and, as is frequently the case, had several slices left over.  My waitress asked me if I wanted a to-go box.  I mentioned I was staying at the hotel.  She brought me a small box – she explained that she knew the in-room refrigerators in the hotel were too small for a normal pizza box, but if I put my slices on top of each other, they could fit in a smaller box which would fit in my hotel room refrigerator.  And then she reminded me that cold pizza makes a great breakfast!

Here’s the thing that impressed me:  I travel all the time.  I’m in restaurants all over the country.  I experience good customer service regularly.  But rarely do I experience such thoughtful customer service as I experienced at the Green Mill. I greatly appreciated that they had taken the time to understand my world.  Their service showed that they (or their manager) had purposefully thought about their restaurant experience from my perspective.

Leader – how do you need to improve your team’s ability to think like a customer?