7 Ways to Solve the Sour Puss Problem
Anyone can be a sour puss. Some leaders are just too important to smile.
Sad faces don’t inspire confidence.
Successful leaders smile even while facing serious challenges.
Sad leaders are:
- Power hungry.
Organizations reflect their leaders. Unhappy leaders build unhappy organizations.
There’s no rule that says the more important you are the sadder you have to look.
The CEO and COO of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) made me smile because they smiled. I met B. Dan Berger and Anthony Demangone in Las Vegas at the NAFCU’s 47th annual conference where I gave a keynote.
I asked Dan and Anthony about smiling-leadership while we discussed their new book, “Managing and Leading Well.”
7 ways to solve the sour puss problem:
- “You have to enjoy people,” Berger. Enjoy people because they’re human beings. It doesn’t matter if you like everything about them. Enjoy them.
- “Trust your team,” Demangone, “My job is to bring out the best in others.” Trusting the team frees leaders to enjoy the process.
- Care for people. “I have an obligation to find out what keeps our CEO’s up at night,” Berger
- Connect with people. Both Dan and Anthony talked about management by walking around. Find out what’s happening on the Little League team or in their family life.
- “Bring enthusiasm to problem solving. There’s a lot of room for fun in solving challenges.” Demangone.
- “Talk about having fun. You’ll reach a point where it’s self-reinforcing.” Dan & Anthony.
- “We have a no asshole rule here. If you hire one you just became the biggest one.” Berger
Fun doesn’t have to be frivolous or irresponsible even in financial institutions.
How can leaders build happy organizational cultures?
I like number 7 … hiring assholes. I’ve been in places the rotten egg smell permeates the workplace (figuratively of course) – LOL 😛
The culture of a workplace reflects the style and attitude of their leader. If you want a happy workplace, then the leader has to lead by example. Practice what you preach! If you cannot put up a brave face as a leader to rally the troops then question your capacity to lead effectively.
Thanks Michael. I’ve seen leaders justify the presences of rotten eggs because the eggs delivered results. But, what is left out of the equation is how rotten eggs demoralize the rest of the team. Distrust slows everything.
Dan , hit the mark. Basic human desire to be around people who are fun, likeability isn’t in many competency frameworks and as leaders we should reflect in action when communicating asking repeatedly ‘how do I want this person to feel as a result of me being here today?’. I ran an appeal hearing recently with the candidate citing how the review process had made him feel, not how the process was conducted. I made this observation , he went silent, I asked him ‘so how are you feeling now , today?’ . He became angry and his union rep whispered ‘better not to answer that question it might prejudice you’. Weird . Feelings prejudicial ?
You hit a home run today Dan, Good post as always keep 🙂 Cheers Happy Friday, Love the smiles applications, more important they cost nothing to smile, it takes 42 muscles to frown, 4 to extend the middle finger, surely a smile takes less so the Little Office Prayer that hangs on my wall states!
Thanks Tim. Smiles are FREE. Financial institutions should love them! 🙂
Love that last rule. Got a good chuckle out of that one.
I don’t even think it’s about smiling. It’s about embracing and enjoying what you do. If you don’t like leading people and coaching them to success, get the heck out of the way. Because make no mistake. You are definitely in the way. And if you were any kind of leader, you’d know that and own up to that. If you can’t, you are just an appointee – “… an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill” (Kurtz, Apocalpyse Now).
I’m not always great at what I do but the team I work with can count on I love what I do and I love the team I’m with.
Thanks Alf. I appreciate the idea that we may not always be great at what we do but we can always love the work. Bingo!
Smile encourages. It enhances energy in others. It actually connect with people. I appreciate your point that there is no rule that people should not smile because they hold higher position.
Unfortunately this is what people believe in. When they reach at top position, they feel different than their colleagues. They tend to develop space. They try to justify the space. People also feel to isolate them. Mask comes in between people and leader.
When people reach at top, they should not wear mask. They can not connect with people unless they delayer mask.
Leaders can build happy organisational culture by creating inspiration all around. When people start knowing leaders by his position, they start creating distance. They do not get motivated. When people start knowing leaders by their personality, character and integrity, then they start connecting. They start getting inspiration.
Organisational leaders should create impact by their personality. When they do it, other people call them leaders and such scenario create inspiration culture.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. I appreciate your distinction between the person and the position. We aren’t the position. Very powerful idea when it comes to authenticity and the way we interact with others.
Yeah, I’m also snickering (like a little school kid) that the leaders of Credit Unions are invoking the word “asshole” as a matter of policy definition. Now I want to work there.
Fun: Encourage teams to work in huddles with constant flowing informal communication especially when at a critical juncture. Agile lives by this and it’s how Google has overcome some of their biggest technological hurdles while still staying focused and having fun.
Thanks James. I was impressed with the leadership team and the events team of NAFCU. They seemed to be enjoying the process. It would be easy to let the pressure get to you with over a thousand Board Members, CEO’s, and Sr. Managers in the room. That’s why their smiles and enjoyment made such a big impression. 🙂
Yes, I’m with you on constant communication. It’s much easier to smile when you feel like you are in the loop and engaged in the process.
Like the age-old adage says: “It’s nice to be important; it’s also important to be to be nice.” Perhaps the real art is simply “allowing people to enjoy us.” This often takes more will and skill than we believe, and is as profound as “accepting love.”
Thanks Books. Insightful. “Allowing people to enjoy us.” — pow!
As a pastor, I try to smile when I lead worship. It sets a tone for the assembly and for the congregation as a whole. If the organization is no fun, who would want to work there, or serve there, or invite their friends to come visit? Same is true in my high school classroom. I try to create a happy/safe place where people want to be! I told a new teacher, don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun! If you aren’t having fun, no one else is either. It starts at the top. By the way, #7 is laugh out loud funny. Thanks, Dan. My son asked me this morning, what are you laughing about. He laughed too.
Thanks Pete. One of the things all leaders need to remember is if they aren’t loving it, it’s likely that others aren’t loving it either. Do more of what you love!
Glad you got a chuckle. Bob Sutton wrote the book, The No Asshole Rule. Good stuff
Smile is the greatest asset which everybody posses and giving it to others does not cost anything, instead it rather enhances. Leadership position does not say that one shall not smile with the rising position, but leaders rather managers at the higher position over a period of time forget about the very big asset they posses and they start laying their personality. they think that the more serious they are and the more gloomy face they will show , they will be considered more serious and committed to the organisation. but their attitudes and masking of their personality take them away from the people at the ground and middle level and they stay disconnected from the ground level reality/information which is beneficial for the organisation. Not giving a smile is also considered as a rude behavior and it is not good for the health of the organisation. You give one smile and in return you get one even more you may get, it all depends upon how true is your smile. Leader who gives a smile always considered to be more acceptable and charming, people working with do not hesitate to bring nay problem/solution in the interest of the organisation and that the real charisma of the leadership where people do not fear/hesitate to come and see you. A charming face brings smile on other face also and it spread like a wild fire and create a ambiance where people would love to work.
The best advice I ever heard and confirmed what I already knew: having a rotten day, so what? But your best foot forward in every situation because your client/customer/ employee doesn’t care. In your biker clothes? No good. Get in your business suit and put your best business forward. And smile.
Doing what you want others to do is a great way to get them to do it, and smiling is so very contagious! Even if I have horrible customers who just insist on bringing you down, it makes me feel better knowing that I kept my smile up, offered help to them, and when that just irritated them more I’d gotten payback without having to be the asshole! Great post! I could really identify, despite not being a manager.
Dan, Really enjoyed and appreciated this input. It reminded me that this is a choice we can make every day – whether we feel like it or not. It also reminded me of the magnitude of influence a leader can have – good or bad – with their attitude and outlook. You’ve inspired me today! Thanks, Pat
Thanks IncompleatLeader. It’s an honor to be on the journey with you. Best wishes