What happens when everything in life has a barcode?
The other morning, while I was waiting to be interviewed on a local TV channel news about motivation and performance, my eyes fell on a plant in front of me.
The plant itself was nothing special. It was a bit shabby and dusty, but what caught my attention was the fact that the pot had a barcode on it.
I found myself commenting in a low voice, “Geez, even the plants obey the standard and are cataloged!”
All this made me think about the companies we have been working with and the companies that daily use us to motivate their teams, that we help their leaders to lead better, increase their sales, decrease their costs, or…
But they rarely tell us that they want us to help their people to be people outside the norm.
There is still a stigma in our business society that is a bit conservative about profiles that don’t fit a “bar code.”
If we think of successful Portuguese companies, we often notice that they have taken special care so that talents “outside the norm” don’t get lost in the middle of so much normality.
Nowadays, with the constraints that society and the market present us with, the companies’ leadership has to take special care with the integration issue and the framework in the face of the success of these profiles.
Internally, we often challenge our team to do things outside the norm, to be able to then transpose to our customer’s ideas, techniques, and tools that until now had never been thought.
Those who know me on a more personal level, and those who follow my path, notice that I often expose myself to new things, many of which are not even related to the markets or areas in which I work.
You may wonder, why do I do this?
Because in life and leadership, the winner is the one who has more flexibility of mind, behavior, and attitude.
If I only stuck to the traditional programs for sales, leadership, etc., in terms of training, the courses we design would probably not have the success they have or the differentiating factors that the people who participate like so much.
One of the things I often talk about with leadership teams is the “comfort zone” factor.
When people are inside their comfort zone, they are hardly prepared for challenges “outside the box.”
Then, usually, the profiles that don’t have a “bar code” react best to those challenges.
Comfort zones exist in all areas of our lives: personal, professional, spiritual, and so on.
Much of what we do with companies is precisely this, pull people out of their comfort zones and support them so that this process is productive and bears fruit in the future.
A leader who can’t step out of their comfort zone and face the challenges that present themselves daily is unlikely to evolve.
Want an example?
Most leaders are not in the habit of asking for feedback regarding how they lead their people.
But if you don’t ask for it, how do you know if you lead well?
Okay, you may have the result you asked your team to achieve, but leadership has several dimensions, and often the doing dimension is the easiest to achieve.
The dimension of maintaining cohesion, and team spirit, of the sacrifice that often needs to be made, is not so simple.
In these situations, the best leaders are the ones who show their teams that they are willing to listen and work on the feedback given to them by their team and their peers.
One of the things we often do in companies is what is commonly referred to as a 360-degree review.
These are evaluation processes in which everyone evaluates each other – leadership to team and team to leadership, for example.
Many of these processes require a framework conversation with people, and do you know why?
Because usually, nobody likes to say “bad” things about others.
It is simpler to be politically correct than to face the consequences of the truth.
But if we are not truthful, how can we correct these issues?
If nobody talks, nobody questions, nobody even wants to discuss the issues on the table. Maybe because of the “conflict” that can generate?
Without open and passionate discussion about the different situations that the team faces, you won’t get anywhere.
Of course, this discussion must happen in the proper places.
After the discussion and after a strategy is aligned, it is necessary that, when you leave the meeting door, everyone is aligned. Therefore, there are no more corridor conversations about the subject.
People need to understand that getting out of their comfort zone is critical if your team and your company face the future and the market with a smile on their lips.
Is this easy to do?
Of course not. Companies wouldn’t hire us so often to do it if it were.
What about your company?
Do you still live locked in your comfort zone?
Also published on Medium.