To rally his team to increase sales, one manager of a big-box retail store promised, that if his team could surpass their sales goals, he would work a full day as a parking lot attendant. The staff would get to pick which day and which shift he would take over.
If you have worked in retail, you’ll know that the lot attendant has a very tough job working through sleet, snow, rain or on the opposite end of the spectrum, intense heat and humidity. Moreover, this position is often placed at the bottom of the retail store’s team ecosystem.
Well, that store blew way past its sales goals, and the subsequent excitement around the manager taking the lot shift was palpable. Employees took a very democratic approach to determining which shift they were going to assign their manager. Above the employee punch clock, they put up a chart with each potential shift date, along with the corresponding weather forecast, and employees voted with excitement and anticipation. Of course, they also watched this manager work his lot shift with great delight too!
This ability to rally a team is pivotal to business success. In fact, a recent article from Inc. Magazine reported on an international study by Catalyst which found that altruistic leadership is a strong predictor of employee innovation and team citizenship. If you want employees to go above and beyond the call of duty, you must be a humble leader. This retail manager led his team in just this manner. Putting egos and hierarchies aside, he went into the trenches to fight for a common goal with his employees.
Here are a few other noteworthy examples of team leadership that we’ve seen in the workforce recently:
CEO serves as the office receptionist: taking its cue from shows like Undercover Boss (but doing it with full transparency), one company’s CEO volunteers each year to man all reception duties over the lunch hour on Administrative Professionals Day. This is a nice gesture of appreciation and team camaraderie.
The infamous “Tiara Competition”: one company pitted three teams against each other during their peak sales period. Each employee donated a few dollars into an office charity pool, and each of the three male team leads agreed to wear a tiara for charity for a full day if their team came in second or third in the sales competition. We loved that proceeds from this initiative were donated to charity, and that two managers would have to wear tiaras, thereby supporting each other in their joint “humiliation for charity”.
A BBQ-off: like a traditional bake-off, but perfectly tailored for summer, one company hosts its annual BBQ-off, where employees prepare to enjoy bragging rights for their BBQ prowess. This has become a much-anticipated contest over the years, with a fully appointed judging panel, branded clipboards and official marking sheets. We’d love an invite to that work lunch!
Managers become dinnertime butlers: a communications firm hosts an annual holiday charity event where employees create products or services for a silent or live auction. Each year, the entire management team comes together to submit their unique offer for the live auction: to host a sumptuous five-course meal for up to 10 employees. The twist? Each employee is paired with a member of the management team upon arrival (at the CEO’s house), whereby the manager serves as a personal butler to the employee for the evening. This has become such a popular auction item, that employees create a waiting list for the 10 seats due to high demand for participation.
Have you seen a creative example of humble leadership in the workforce? Please share, as we’d love to hear about it!