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Owning The Walk To The Car

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What do you need to have at work to be fully engaged?

What do you need to have at work to be fully engaged?
Owning The Walk To The Car

Owning the Walk to the Car

Are you maximizing your skills and talent on a daily basis?

Have you tapped into the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of those you lead?

  Is your organization performing at its fullest potential?

Nothing less than an emphatic “yes!” to each of these questions will do. It is more important than ever that every member of your organization fully maximize their skills, talents and potential to drive business results. It’s not business as usual. Today’s competitive environment is more complex, uncertain and volatile than it was just several years ago.  Never before has the phrase, “people are our greatest asset” been more important. 

Yet, our experience and research indicates that most organizations fail to fully utilize the capability of the workforce.  Organizations that are well-positioned now and for the future understand that tapping into the discretionary effort of every staff member is the single greatest opportunity for survival and long-term viability.  There is simply not the money and resources to be wasted on staff that does not give 100% of their available efforts.

 Leaders in these high performing organizations not only understand the phrase “owning the walk to the car” but internalize the concept as a key to successful leadership.  How does “owning the walk to the car” relate to business success?  Quite simply, it is a commitment that no one leaves work at the end of the day thinking to themselves, “I could have done more today”, “I could have been a better team member”, “I could have provided better service” or “I could have made a greater difference”. 

So imagine – what if every individual, every leader and every team in your organization was giving 100 percent or more?  What would it look like? What would the organizational climate feel like?  What business results could your organization achieve? Here are a few strategies that will help you achieve your own brand of ordinary greatness:


  • Make sure employees are absolutely clear on where your organization is headed. Remember the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland?  His words of wisdom seem prophetic:  “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”  In times when we are re-evaluating and redefining everything we know as “normal,” the importance of a clear vision and a clear direction for the future is ever more important.  If leaders are fuzzy on the details (which is a common problem), it’s time to buckle down and get focused. Then, make certain to communicate your plan to the entire company.
  • Inspire ownership by involving employees in major decisions. We all make decisions about how much we are willing to commit to an organization Are your employees renters or owners? If they’re the former, they treat the company much like they might a hotel bathroom (they leave wet towels piled on the floor) or a rental car (they turn it in with a bug-splattered windshield). If they’re the latter, they actively look out for the company’s best interests and its bottom line. Leaders inspire ownership by involving employees at all levels in resolving problems and pinpointing opportunities. 
  • Don’t hide the (scary) truth. Transparency is a hallmark of good leadership. This is even truer in times of uncertainty. Ironically, that’s when leaders display a natural tendency to “hunker down” and communicate only the positive aspects of the situation with employees. Sure, you’re trying to protect your workforce—but what you’re really doing is undermining their trust.  Employees know, or at least suspect, the company is facing serious issues, and without accurate information from you, they will “fill in the gaps” themselves. Assumptions and rumors will run rampant.  Leaders must break through the rhetoric and tell it like it is. Communicate with employees in a way that is timely, understandable, meaningful, and inspirational. Open, frequent communication will generate the commitment and energy needed to rally the organization with a sense of ownership that says, “We can do this.” 
  • Identify faulty systems and processes. Finger-pointing can be a hallmark of stressful times.  Leaders may be tempted to suggest that employees are at fault for lackluster results, missed deadlines, and low morale. While this may be true in some instances, leaders must never rush to judgment. Instead, they should examine the systems and processes that dictate how work gets done. Frankly, they may be the culprits who are holding employees back. Many companies have existed for years with broken systems or misaligned processes or both. But, perhaps, back when customers were beating down the door and money was flowing, they were able to succeed in spite of these shortcomings. Now, of course, it’s a whole different ballgame. Work to solve these structural problems and you’ll find that your employees’ ordinary greatness can finally shine through.
  • Make sure leaders are well trained in creating desirable workplaces. Ordinary greatness thrives in companies with strong leadership. In fact, a recent survey of federal workplaces found that the quality of an organization’s senior leadership is the important element in building a great place to work—coming in even above pay and benefits.  (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/19/AR2009051903621.html for more information.) The Washington Post article that reported the study mentioned that employees value bosses who communicate well and provide workers with sufficient training and opportunities. So perhaps the most important thing you can do to make sure you get a positive return on your ‘human investment’ is making sure all leaders are thoroughly trained in these precepts and tools. 


So, the bottom line?  We believe that everything you need to be incredibly successful currently exists in your workforce – open your eyes to the ordinary greatness than can propel your organization to new heights.  The only thing stopping you from realizing high performance is your commitment and determination.  Why not get started today…success is just around the corner! 

Contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for ideas on how to get started.