Set the Tone

two women sitting side by side at table

I firmly believe that every team member can set the tone of the organization each day. A smile, a positive attitude, a helpful mindset, all go a long way in determining the tone of the organization.But this is even more true for those of us in a leadership role. We are being watched, whether we like it or not. Every move is scrutinized. Don’t believe me? Over the last year, I have received the following feedback from various sources within our organization:

You spend too much time talking to so and so

You always appear busy

You are always serious

You are too focused on metrics

You travel too much given your young family (Sarah got to them!)

You have too much on your plate

You looked more stressed than normal

Before commenting further, I love working in an organization where people feel free to give this kind of feedback. I love it even more when it comes from team members on the manufacturing floor (a lot of the above did), because it tears down the false chasm between the white and blue collar worker. I continue to believe we are all valuable human beings, and EVERY job matters. (And just so you and I are clear, I did not create this culture. So this isn’t a personal brag. Maybe it is a little bit of a brag —and rightfully so—of the culture created by my Grandfather).I continually challenge myself to not only be open to this kind of feedback, but to react in a way that honors the giver of the feedback. In other words, I want to set a receptive tone. Now I may disagree with the feedback, and in those instances, explain why I do not agree. But this is also important because I want to a set a tone that people should speak up when things are not as the other sees them. They just need to do so in a way that honors the other person.I also spend time thinking about the feedback I receive. Admittedly, my demeanor is naturally serious, and as a dominant “D” personality on the DISC profile, I am very focused on metrics. So when I hear feedback like the above, I have to fight the natural tendency that wants to either get defensive, or feel like a failure.

Instead, I use it as a reminder to smile when I am walking through the plants, and to approach individual people that I don’t have a pre-existing relationship with —something always challenging for an introvert.All this sets a different, arguably better, tone.And because of the feedback, I grow in the process…What tone are you setting in your organization?