Ruth sipped her coffee at her usual early morning coffee shop and told the barista, “You make a fantastic coffee. It’s exactly the way I like it.” He said, “Oh, I don’t just make coffee, I make your day!” He explained that if people got their coffee just the way they like it, e.g. in Ruth’s case, hot, strong, with no sugar, in a large cup, then her day is off to a great start. On the other hand, if she got a bad cup of coffee, her day is not looking so good!
The barista had created a context for his job that was way bigger than making coffee. He was actually a medical student working part time, so an equally valid context for him could have been that he was making coffee while waiting to do his real job in life.
Both contexts would have been accurate. But the context that he had created, that his job is about making people’s day, was way more inspiring for him as well as the customers he served.
As game-changing leaders, context is critical, both for our own inspiration and for our broader team and stakeholders. There is a world of difference between a context of delivering the project on time and on budget versus delivering a project that alters the customer experience for your organisation. Similarly, achieving the sales target by the end of the quarter may not be nearly as satisfying a context as finding customers who love our solutions and become our raving fans.
Leaders who create a bigger context, one that requires a new level of leadership, are more likely to change the game. Simon Sinek in his great Ted Talk, similarly suggests that great leaders inspire action because they start with why. In other words WHY do we believe what we are doing is important.
What is a context for your current leadership challenge that would inspire you and others?
Best regards, Brian
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