I was reminded last week of the connection between a cause and an effect. I think the idea of Causation is something leaders should reflect on regularly. Whether it be regarding operations, customers or strategy, a good leader should always look at the possible outcomes of every decision they make. Often the biggest mistakes I have made were a direct result of me not considering the effects of my decision thoroughly enough. Thankfully the situation that caused this reflection last week wasn’t a major decision, but I do believe it had a major result.
My company is a construction manufacturing company. We live and die by deadlines and are often at the mercy of our customer’s needs. This can be a huge stressor on a business that needs organization and scheduling in order to be efficient. No matter how hard we try to stick to a manufacturing and shipping schedule it’s inevitable that a customer will make a last minute change. This change throws a huge kink in our schedule and is forced on us to deal with and resolve. Last week we received a call from a major customer that forced us to adjust our schedule. Of course this change caused a lot of extra effort and work for my team. In particular, it forced one of my drivers to have to stay late to load a truck for shipment and arrive early the next morning to get it to our customer before 7 am. My driver has a young family and it should go without saying but any extra’s like this are a sacrifice for her. Thankfully she stepped up to the plate and ensured our customer got what they needed when they needed it. She did all of this without complaint and earned a bit of overtime pay.
The next morning I arrived early to beat her to work. On the way I stopped at Tim Horton’s to get her a gift card. When I arrived I quickly ran into my office and wrote her a card. In the card I acknowledged her extra effort and great attitude. As a leader I recognize that my success is built on my staff’s efforts. I thanked her for her dedication and effort and told her we are better with her on our team. I ended the note with a simple “enjoy some Tim’s on us.” I ran downstairs to meet her before she went on her first delivery and handed her the card. The next morning she knocked on my door. I said, “come in” and she walked in with a bag. She handed me the bag and said “don’t say I’ve never done anything nice for you.” We smiled at each other and she left the room. In the bag was a stuffed Seattle Seahawk bird. She had gotten it as a Christmas gift in Scotland as a little girl in the 80’s. She knows I am a huge Seahawk fan. They are very rare and I know that it carried some sentimental value to her (I mean she brought it all the way from Scotland when she immigrated!).
You see, as leaders we reap what we sow. Otherwise known as the Law of Causation. In the book of Galatians and 1 Corinthians it says that a man reaps what he sows. If you sow sparingly, you will receive sparingly. When you recognize that your success is really the result of your team you start making different decisions. You start leading with gratitude, not attitude. Richard Branson said “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” How are you treating your team? Are you grateful for the work they do? Do you serve them well by recognizing their efforts and showing you’re grateful? When you start leading from a position of gratitude you will soon reap the benefits of a team that is willing to go the extra mile for you. Don’t believe me? Try it. I’m confident you’ll be surprised what even the simplest gesture of gratitude can achieve.