WRITE, RING, AND
Write team members little notes, ring them
when they least expect it, and remember their
The main theme of this book is that it is the little things that make a big
difference to team leadership and motivation. The advantage of little
things is that they can be personal and are not a product of an impersonal,
centralized personnel policy. No such
policy can legislate for all the small but
exceptionally important things team
leaders can do. For example, you can’t
have a policy that states: “Say positive
things about Jackie’s new hairstyle.”
Personalization is a key motivational
driver. It requires you to seize some of
the infinite number of opportunities
every day to motivate people. A
Christmas card that is personalized with an apt little comment such as
“glad to hear that Don is out of hospital and will be back home to enjoy
Christmas with you” is far more effective than a simple signature or a
printed statement without specific reference to the recipient.
Tim Waterstone, when he used to head up a chain of bookstores,
said, “Every day I try to write at least six notes to members of staff. If I
see a display in a Waterstones window that is particularly good, then I
will drop a note to say so.”
These little things are so easy to do and it is a wonder that most
bosses neglect them. Here are some examples:
SEND AN IMPROMPTU EMAIL OR TEXT MESSAGE
❖ “Harold, just to let you know that I bumped into Kathryn yesterday and she asked after you.”
❖ “Martha, best of luck with the Oslo project. I am sure you will do a great job.”
❖ “I’ve just come out of a meeting with our CEO, who said your report was extremely helpful.”
❖ “Thanks for staying late last evening, Evelyn, it was much appreciated.”
❖ Drop a note to say how pleased you were with Betty’s presentation.
❖ Send a card in the internal post to thank Roland for all his help in sorting out the transportation
❖ Leave a sticky note on Hamid’s computer screen to say that you like his new screensaver.
❖ Attach a personalized note to an article that will interest Tracy.
RING PEOPLE WHEN THEY LEAST EXPECT IT
❖ When on an overseas trip, spend half an hour calling various team members, not to discuss work
but just to find out how they are.
❖ Call Tom’s wife at home one evening to thank her for putting up with all the long hours he has
been working to complete the project.
❖ Call George to ask him whether he saw the match last night and what he thought of the goal.
❖ Give Mary a call to ask how her mother is as you’ve just learnt that she’s gone into a home.
❖ Ensure that every team member receives a birthday card with an appropriate comment.
❖ On the anniversary of a team member joining the company, send them a little card to thank them
for their support over the last year.
❖ Invent eccentric if not unusual anniversaries and send cards, for example to celebrate the
anniversary of the day William made his first five-figure sale (you’ll need to keep a diary for this
❖ Discover when team members are celebrating major anniversaries (such as ten years of marriage)
and send a special card to their home.
There are thousands of different and creative ways you can use emails,
text messages, notes, phone calls, or cards to motivate people.
Discipline yourself to send one unexpected message and make one
unexpected call to a team member every day. Every week hunt
down anniversaries to celebrate with an appropriate card.
Never make writing notes, making calls, and
celebrating anniversaries a routine. Each should be
spontaneous, original, and unexpected.
Doing the biz is all about performance and delivering what customers
expect, what shareholders want, and what the team needs.
There are a number of performance-enhancing behaviors that a team
leader can adopt to motivate the team further. These are little things
that will have a big impact on the way team members go about their
Seven biz performers are selected for this part of the book:
Take the lead in becoming the best
Create performance lines in your mind
Put yourself on the line
Praise regularly and reprimand rarely
Fire poor performers
TAKE THE LEAD IN
BECOMING THE BEST
Unless you attempt to take the lead
you cannot be a leader.
Being a leader is about taking the lead and about all the little things you
do to achieve this. For example, it might be about taking the lead in
providing a new buzzing style of service to customers and all the little
steps necessary to create this buzz (see The Buzz, the companion book
to this one). It might be about taking the lead in getting intractable
problems sorted out, for example volunteering at your management
meeting to get the car parking problem fixed.
There is a great deal of debate about the difference between a
manager and a leader. The answer is simple. A leader is a person who
aims to be the best in a designated arena and takes the initiative in
becoming so. Becoming a leader is not a right that is assigned to an
employee by virtue of promotion to supervision or management. A real
leader is someone who wants to take the lead, who wants
to pick up the ball, run with it, score goals, and put their
team in a winning position. Effective leaders don’t wait
to be told what to do. They do it first because they
are the first to see the need and seize the opportunity.
Whatever the size of their team and whatever
their place in the organization, leaders are a driving
force in doing the biz. At one level it might mean
taking the lead in resolving a complex customer
complaint, at another taking the lead in raising quality standards. A
leader is a person who owns and resolves a problem, who detects a
need for change and then takes responsibility for effecting it. A leader
Taking the lead means seeking out opportunities for improvement
and following them, whether they are new ways to please customers or
even better ways of motivating the team.
Here are some examples of the kind of lead you can take as a team
leader in order to be the best:
✔ Work exceptionally hard to achieve the best results for the business so that you never let the
company down and are always in the lead when it comes to meeting if not exceeding targets.
✔ Pioneer new ways of motivating your team so that you become a leading example in the company
of generating high morale (for example, agreeing that they can work at home whenever they
✔ Take the lead in encouraging your
team to win awards, prizes, and any
other accolades that reflect their
✔ Do your best to fight battles on
behalf of your team when you
genuinely feel they deserve better (for
example, obtaining the latest and
most up-to-date training).
✔ Pushing back the boundaries of service to your customers (internal or external) by aiming to be
world-class in everything you and the team do for them.
✔ Become the spokesperson for all that is best in the company, speaking at conferences, writing
articles, and generally extolling the virtues of working there (and thus becoming one of its
✔ Achieve the highest standards by leading the way in getting all the little things right, paying
attention to detail, and ensuring that these little things make a big difference.
✔ Take the lead in ensuring that your team has the best and latest equipment, whether it relates to
computing, telecommunications, or any other system.
Invariably, leadership is about winning and creating an organization
where the team wins, the customer wins, and overall the company
Sit back with your team and reflect on what the best means to
your biz, and then take the lead in achieving this.
Taking the lead to be the best requires you to
aspire to be the best.
LINES IN YOUR MIND
A team leader should take action if anyone
transgresses lines of acceptable performance, behavior,
There is no such thing as a straight line in the natural world. Any study
of growing things will reveal lots of curves and jagged edges, but no
straight lines. You can peer at trees, leaves, flowers, bodies, hair, skin,
and any other natural substance, but you will never detect a straight
line. Even a drawn straight line is not perfectly straight but an
approximation of straightness.
The best place for straight lines is in people’s minds, determining the
boundaries in their lives that should not be crossed. This is essential for
a boss doing the biz. Before you can motivate people they need to be
perfectly clear about the lines of performance, behavior, and discipline
that they should keep on the right side of and never transgress. Without
such lines there is a high risk of disorganization, disorder, and
exceptionally poor performance.
This can be demonstrated in the following diagram:
When the performance or behavior of any team member declines
toward the warning or remedial area, immediate action must be taken
by the team leader. Failure to do so will lead to poor team
performance. The action required is normally a warning.
If the team member is unable to improve performance and cross
back to the right side of the line, it is essential that this person is told to
leave the team. No boss can live with circumstances
that are unacceptable and intolerable in
contributing to the future success of the team
and the company.
Examples of what constitutes the line
differentiating the acceptable from the
unacceptable are provided in Chapter 12
on measurement. It is imperative for any
team leader to develop very strong and
clearly defined lines in their own mind about
acceptable and unacceptable performance and
behavior. A boss’s credibility will suffer
immeasurably if he or she declares such a line and then allows it to be
transgressed without taking action. In this case these declarations
become idle threats and people will be seen to be “getting away with
Bosses who have fuzzy lines or no lines of performance, behavior,
and discipline in their minds readily lose respect and are difficult to deal
with. You don’t know where you stand with them because you don’t
know where they draw the line.
Test yourself by writing down one performance line that you have
in your mind that no team member should cross.
A boss without boundaries is bound to fail.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested