Servant leadership in a restaurant

An example of servant leadership happened in a restaurant last night.

My wife and I were enjoying a meal in a local restaurant. We were not enjoying our drinks, because even though we had repeatedly asked for them, the drinks failed to arrive. A waitress, Jade, who was working another table saw that we were having a problem. When we told her she went off to the bar, spoke to the barman and came back immediately with our drinks.

Later when we wanted to pay we could not find out waitress – the same waitress that never managed to find our drinks. So Jade once again came to the rescue and sorted out our bill. At her own initiative she took the drinks off the bill because (as she put it) we shouldn’t have to pay for drinks that took so long to arrive.

Remember that Jade was not our waitress, and was not even working our table. She saw and solved a problem in her workplace. She made a very grumpy customer a lot happier, and she possibly made the difference in us going back there. I asked for her name because we want to make sure that she serves us next time we eat there. Jade was an ambassador and she will go far.

This is a fairly trivial example, but how often does it happen? When last did it happened to you, and what did you do? How did you action impact your business, or the people around you?

Lessons from David Grier

David footer

A few days ago, I listened to David Grier giving a speech. David does crazy runs that make my marathons look like a walk around the block. He ran across the entire Great Wall of China (4200km), across Cuba (1800km), and a bunch of other crazy runs.

He is one of the authors of the Real Meal Revolution!

He is a wonderful man with some great advise. Here are some lessons that I learned from him:

  • You need the self-belief to dig deep
  • No man achieves anything on his own
  • I’m the one that has to change
  • The sun will set in the evening, and rise the next morning, regardless of what you do
  • Its usually not the big things that get you down – it’s an accumulation of little things
  • Nearly everything is not impossible…if you want it enough dig deep enough
  • It’s when you say that you can’t that you can
  • You learn the most when you are struggling
  • Have honesty and appreciation, understanding and acceptance
  • Nobody is going to run your life for you
  • If you can find reason for why you are suffering, you are no longer suffering
  • Where do you fit into your dream?
  • Nobody will effect change for you
  • We need to be the change we want to see
  • We cannot change on our own
  • The ability to change on the way is key to finish a journey.

And finally for race fuel, he recommended Cabanossi sausages from Pick n Pay,, and squashed pork belly (put the fat runoff in a ziplock to suck on, and slice the port to eat)!

Hope that helps – it certainly gives me some perspective!

(photo from David’s website)

16 Lessons from Dr Ali Backer

Ali Bacher and ,me

Dr Ali Bacher

spoke at our Toastmasters conference in May. Here are a few lessons from him.

  1. Return correspondence within 24 hours
  2. Brevity – 2 pages (both speaking and writing)
  3. Workplace structures are meaningless (my version is that titles are meaningless)
  4. Look after quality people that make it happen
  5. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys
  6. Keep your door open
  7. Promote performers
  8. Give responsibility to people you have confidence in
  9. Give small gestures of appreciation
  10. Be honest – never lie
  11. Never break your word
  12. Always settle out of court
  13. Never record your feelings at the time, wait until you have cooled down
  14. To learn respect, set the example
  15. Fly economy class with your staff!
  16. You have a responsibility to transfer your skills
  17. Things don’t just happen; be proactive

Book Review: Everyone Communicates, few connect by John Maxwell

Everyone Communicates, few Connect by John Maxwell

Published by Thomas Nelson

***look below for a free copy – contest closed

Many of us have intentions to read more self-development books, but by the end of the work-day we are simply too tired, so we end up in front of the TV or reading a light novel.

This book is one of those that you can pick up at the end of the day. It is filled with stories and anecdotes drawn from his own experience and from others; all of which illustrate the points that he is trying to make. The story telling style makes it easy reading; yet still a book of substance. This is typical of what I have come to expect from his other books. At 250 pages it is not a long read, but you can always go back to it again and again.

The main premise of the book is that while we spend a huge amount of time communicating, we are not necessarily making the right effective connections that are crucial to effective communication and leadership.

The book is divided into two main sections; principles and practices. It is self explanatory, but he gives a few simple principles on making better and effective connections, and then shows how to implement them.

The book is aimed at anybody wishing to make better connections; and could be applied in both your personal or business life. He gives simple tips at the end of chapter, divided into three main areas, namely one-on one, a group or an audience.

For the public speakers out there; some great tips (and affirmation of some things you already know), for those of you in corporate business, some tips on working with colleagues, in teams at or in a group environment, such as at meetings. And one-on one communication is important to us all.

An unusual feature of the book is that John Maxwell posted the manuscript of the book on his blog www.johnmaxwellonleadership.com, and he received over 100,000 view over eleven weeks, resulting in over 70 quotes, stories and anecdotes from readers which resulted in over 100 revisions. Every contributor is acknowledged in the book.

I am a fan of John Maxwell, so it is difficult to be unbiased, but as a communicator and public speaker, this is a great book, and it is going to help you to become even better.

It is available from Amazon in hardback for $17.15. The folks at Thomas Nelson have kindly provided 5 free copies to readers. Leave you name in the comment section below, and I will randomly draw 5 names on 28 July who will each receive a copy.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the (signed) review copy.

How much effort are you prepared to put into your passion?

I was listening to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell recently on the Radiolab podcast in which he was speaking about the performance of Jamaican athletes when he was growing up. He made a comment that part of the reason for their performance is that they trained harder than anybody else.

When Darren la Croix won the 2001 World Championship of Public Speaking, he said that he did not want any of the other competitors to be more prepared than him – he wanted to out-prepare all of them, and he won.

When I was in school, I studied music as one of my matric subjects. In my final year, I would probably practice about 2-3 hours a day, and I was a far better pianist then than I am now. It was because I was putting in the time to prepare.

Tiger Woods is such a great golfer partly because he puts in approx 6 ½ hours training every single day, as well as about 2 ½ hours in the gym  . I have no doubt that if I put effort into golf every day for a few years, I would be a mighty fine golfer as well. Maybe not as good as Tiger Woods, but a lot better than I currently am.

According to Fortune Magazine,

“The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts…. that nobody is great without work…There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.”

Ok, so the bottom line is that you can be excellent at just about anything that you choose, but you will need to put in the effort to get there.

How much effort are you prepared to put into your passion?

Toastmasters Induction Speech

On Saturday 4 July, we celebrated our incoming Toastmasters district leaders by holding a gala Induction Dinner.

I was installed as District Governor in a ceremony chaired by Past District Governor, Frances Boshoff, after which I presented my incoming address, where I spoke a little about what Toastmasters means to me, and I presented the district theme – Toastmasters, Growing People.

District Governor

The outgoing officers were also released from their duties, allowing them to handover the leadership duties to a new set of officers, and Lois Strachan was installed as the IPDG (Immediate Past District Governor), which means that she will be chairing the PDG advisary committee for the next year.

Anyway, if you missed the dinner, it was a fantastic function, and judging by the noise level, was enjoyed by all. If you didn’t manage to get there, I have a video of my speech, you can watch it below. Anyway, keep talking, and remember that Toastmasters Grow people!

District Governor (gulp)

Growing People

As of two days ago, I am the District Governor for Toastmasters District 74, Southern Africa. Geographically, we are one of the largest districts in the world, covering 9 countries in Southern Africa. I am also the youngest District Governor in D74
ever, but I feel ready for the challenge.

I joined Toastmasters in 2000, with the aim of simply becoming a better public speaker, but it did not take very long to realise that Toastmasters is not just about public speaking. It is about learning to become an effective communicator and leader, and I have been on a remarkable journey
of growth. Through Toastmasters, I have

  • Trained in South Africa
  • Trained in Malawi
  • Trained in Namibia
  • Travelled three times to USA, each time carrying a flag of our District
  • Spoken in the four largest cities in South Africa
  • Opened conferences
  • Emceed meetings, conferences and events

Zimbabwe Zambia

Now, please don't think that I am bragging, because I am not. I am showing
you this list to demonstrate that I have learned to do things that I would never
been able to do in the past, both through the acquired skills, and through self
confidence that I have developed.

Whenever Toastmasters has provided me with an opportunity, I have grabbed it,
which is why I have got so much out of it.

Our district theme this year is "Toastmasters – Growing People". And the more
that I am involved, the more I realise that the best way to grow is help others
to grow. By giving, you receive back tenfold. So, it is with great excitment, a
little nerviousness, and hugh anticipa……..tion that I look forward to the
next year!

Book review – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

I have just finished reading a remarkable book – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – by John Maxwell.

This is really quite an amazing book. It is written in 21 chapters, each of which discusses a different aspect of leadership. The laws that he describes are simple, understandable and easy to apply.

In Toastmasters, we often say that “facts tell while stories sell.” This book is a perfect example of that expression. It is filled with stories taken from all over the world which illustrate the laws of leadership. Amongst others, he draws on his own life, American history, sport, Churchill, Napoleon and even our own Nelson Mandela!

Just three of the laws are:

  • The law of process – leadership develops daily, not in a day
  • The law of connection – leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand
  • The law of empowerment – only secure leaders give power to others

The book is very easy reading, yet filled with powerful lessons. If you have not read it, I highly recommend that you find a copy and read it. It will help in your business, friendships and relationships.

Radio Shack Employees laid-offs by email

EmailfiredAccording to Manager Tools, Radio Shack recently laid off 400 employees via email. Is this a sign that we live in a time that it is acceptable to terminate employment via email, or is it a case of poor judgment?

I think the latter. How can you possibly justify such weak leadership and lack of integrity? Were they too afraid to face 400 employees and tell them that their services were no longer required, or were they too afraid to deal with the issue face-to-face?

I am sure that the author of the above cartoon was being tongue-in-cheek about our modern world, and how email has become core to our ability to communicate, but how sad it is that the author was so close to the truth.

Imagine arriving at work, switching your PC on and checking your email, only to find an email effectively telling you to clear your desk. Being laid off is a frightening experience for many people, but it does very little for your ego that they didn’t even bother saying so face to face.

I have to ask what sort of example you are setting for the employees that remain behind. What sort of respect or faith will they have in their managers (or dare I say it, leaders).

Radio Shack have broken several of the key rules of leadership, namely to act with honesty, respect and integrity towards your employees.

Be honest as to what is happening.

Treat the employees with respect, and like human beings. It is a very difficult time for them, and they need to be treated respectfully and with dignity. Explain what is happening and why. Give them an opportunity to respond, and explain what the future options are.

According to Encarta, integrity means "the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards". In other words, act professionally and treat everybody like people, and not machines.

I hope that this is a once-off occurrence, and is not an indication of things to come.

In closing, I have to wonder what poor management decisions from the past have led to Radio Shack having to lay off the employees in the first place.