How Hammers Become Screw Drivers
Little Mary just knocked a glass of milk on the floor. That’s what two year old’s do.
There’s a group of five leaders at the table.
Bob waves the waiter over and says, “Could someone clean this up?”
Mindy says, “That happened because the milk was too close to the edge.”
Joe says, “Don’t worry, I’ll buy another one.”
Mark says, “Its ok little Mary, don’t feel bad.”
Betty says, “I’ll take little Mary to the restroom. Phil, will you get the waiter. Bob, I noticed another booster seat near the door, would you get that, please?”
Everyone employs default responses.
Expand leadership potential by imagining new responses.
Put on the delegator’s hat, if you tend to fix or comfort, for example. Become an organizer – in your imagination – if you’re a doer.
Become a screw driver:
Hammers see every problem as a nail. Expand your potential by becoming a screw driver.
- Identify default responses.
- Imagine new responses. Ask yourself, “How does Mary handle this type of situation?”
- Test new language.
- Invite feedback.
- Continue practicing your screw driver skills.
Leaders become ineffective – one string banjos – unless they imagine themselves in new ways.
Imagine you’re a screw driver. You can’t do what you can’t imagine. When default responses aren’t getting you where you want to go, imagine yourself with new ones.
What is your default response to challenges, problems, or opportunities?
What new response can you imagine that might take you further?
The spilt milk is such a good example. With two kids, we’ve had plenty of it. I am always amazed at watching how folks respond to that particular scene. Teaching leaders that they have choices in how they respond… and to slow down enough to notice and consider options is so important.
Thank you Karin.
My default is asking questions and exploring options. I’m learning that sometimes people want to hear what I have to say rather than tell me what they think. … if feels so odd to me.
Betty got it right…took care of the distraught one herself, delegated other tasks effectively.
In real life, years ago we our 1-month old daughter was sick and throwing up, my sleep-deprived wife was trying to cope with our firstborn, and I was trying to do my best in any way possible – not too successfully.
A couple, friends of ours, dropped by for a visit. Seeing our stress, the wife cleaned up the most recent mess on the floor and did some laundry, the husband did the dishes, and they both sent me and my wife off into our bedroom with our daughter to give us peace. When we finally got her to sleep, we emerged to find a clean kitchen, dishes done, laundry in the dryer, and friends gone quietly home. Their visit was not what they expected, but it was wonderful for us.
Kindness is an oft-forgotten leadership trait. It reflects love in action.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I am not sure about the first one. Einstein
Sometimes I am just mentally exhausted trying to find creative ways to help encourage others to just do the most obvious things.
Anyone anyone Bueller, Bueller?
Wonder if the folks I am working to influence take as much time thinking about doing what is right in front if them as I do working to make it really simple for them?????
Oh how wonderful if everyone would just do as I think everyone would be so happy!!!
That is what it looks like out my window today!!!
This is a great example of intellectual stimulation. Help the team look at problems or situations in a different way. Basically putting it in a different context.
Great post. I wish I’d read it before I responded to an email from our creative team this morning! I could have put it into immediate action.
I think that’s the point, though, to put this method of looking from a different perspective into action immediately – every day.
Excellent ideas for inspiring all of us to grow and form new habits of acting, speaking and thinking.
Default: Overreact, blame someone, rage, make problem worse first.
Adapted: Deep breaths, pull myself away for a second to truly see the situation for what it is, assess it, take action.
Best Plan: Trust and Problem Solving
Worst Plan: Betrayal and Finger Pointing
Author – http://www.joeegan.com
We are successful because our home behaviours have made us so. But sometimes home behaviours are not appropriate to a specific situation. The mark of a true leader is his/her ability to adopt a different behaviour in order to achieve the desired outcome.
Dan’s exercise above is a way for each of us to risk behaviours different from our home behaviours in order to develop a resilience in our responses.
Terrific example demonstrating default modes. Reminds me of Social Styles and how best leaders are the ones who max their versatility.
In the spirit of deconstructing the box, Betty did almost ‘nail’ it, if she had also said, ‘let in the cat’…
The ‘default’ Eeyore in us all tends to reset ‘opportunistic’ challenges to problems to catastrophe in an ‘oh bother’ moment. Course the Tigger in us loves challenges and bounces to a new level, sometimes without consulting Owl, but that is okay if there is some adjustment after the first bounce…
What we tell ourselves in the moment of confrontation maps potential courses whether we like it or not. A titch of pre-planning and introspection can help.
BTW–my screwdriver is often my hammer because I can’t find my hammer…but that’s just my lack o’ 5Sing my tools. 😉
This is an interesting metaphor but I like it. Getting stuck in one way is limiting and a leader should see from all points of view.
You know what I love about this blog? I love that it takes me a minute to read but months to implement! (And frankly sometimes I don’t every get it right-lol).
Hi Dan, this was a great post I love it! Have a great evening
This is so interesting!! I was just thinking we want to think we are leaders and we are in control of situations…. I was just wondering if little Mary has “trained” us good enough to pick up her mess all the time….. lol… just thinking
Just love these words 🙂
” you can’t do what you can’t imagine ” ♥
Just a thought. Some are focusing on the spilled milk scenario. It draws attention to other situations, accidents, mistakes, failure and more.
Ever watch New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abram? have you noticed he can construct the same thing a dozen different ways with diffrent tools and techniques? That’s what a craftsperson and master artisan is capable of.
Leadership shouldn’t be any different but we certainly do get locked into using the same approaches over and over again.
“A hammer sees every problem as a nail …” Those words resonated. I won’t soon forget them.
If the person who gave little Mary the milk thought before giving her the glass of milk none of this would happen. the adult here is the boss and Mary is the unexperienced employee, so planning ahead will end in success …putting Mary in the high-chair first make sure the cup is spill proof, tell her to be careful and keep an eye on her until she knows how to handle a cup she can be free to use a regular chair and a normal glass and so on , if everyone think ahead of every possibility to any action the result will be much better
So this looks like blaming everyone from the little girl, to parents and maybe the restaurant owner or the other guests in there….!!!
Sorry, but found fun to respond.
I like the story, and the hammer metaphor always resonates. But I have some heartburn with the application here.
I don’t think it desirable that hammers become screwdrivers. Different tools for different purposes.
So, while I think it is very useful to identify our default responses, I think there’s way more widespread application and benefit in knowing when our default responses are applicable and relevant to the situation at hand (nail = hammer) and when they aren’t (screw = hmmmmm) and therefore need to find others who can help us respond differently (screwdriver!) …
That said, there are leaders who can expand their repertoire and can be quite effectively agile. I’m afraid those are the exceptions and not the standard.
I see more lift in connecting the self awareness to seeking collaborators that can provide the more effective responses.
Learnt the difference & wish to be a screw driver in such occassions. Thanks don.
Leaders also become screwdrivers when they understand the strengths of those around them and encourage their team members to use those strengths. We stay as hammers when we expect everyone to have the same strengths!
Thanks Kathy. The screwdriver illustration made me smile. Thanks!