Thursday, February 3, 2011
Rabbit Chases Tiger – Good News?
"The Rabbit is one of the most gracious personalities of the zodiac…It'll be a time to nurture relationships at the many social events that will happen this year.” At least that’s what Laura Lau, co-author with her mother, Theodora Lau, of the best-selling The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, tells us. She believes the Tiger delivered on its reputation of unpredictability and lots of major disruptions. Many people report being happy to see the Rabbit chase the terrible Tiger out of the neighborhood.
But what does all this portend for you as a leader or business owner?
I happened to have been in Singapore as the Year of the Tiger dawned, blogged about it, and showed a clip of the Tiger making his way through the airport with much noise and excitement. That won’t be the case with the quiet and conservative Rabbit.
Lately there’s been a call for greater civility in our political discourse and that’s definitely a Rabbit-oriented wish. Whether it happens or not is another story – perhaps as fanciful as belief in mythical beasts.
However, in the world of business and work, a call for greater civility might not be so far fetched. When I entered the corporate world I was struck by the constant use of war analogies tossed off without much heed for what the words really implied. Early in my management career my boss handed me The Art of War and insisted I take it to heart and use it as an important supplement to my penchant for Drucker and Deming. Over the years I’ve come to see that in successful businesses with progressive leadership, the Rabbit rules over the Tiger.
Why? Because to get anything done in an organization with 2 people or 2 million, you must have cooperation. The old cliché, Together Everyone Achieves More, happens to be correct. When the Constitutional framers were hammering out their plan for the new nation, they had to cooperate; despite the fact the 55 delegates had strong opposing views. When John Zumwalt, CEO at PBS&J came to believe the company should reflect the communities in which it had offices, he needed the entire workforce to take on the mission. He didn’t set quotas or impose a program. He talked about the mission to everyone and enlisted their cooperation. In a few years the national engineering firm was being recognized and receiving awards for its diversity.
5 Actions to Usher in the Year of the Rabbit and Chase the Tiger
Stop the War Chatter – Record your next meeting. How often do war-related terms crop up? How often do you shoot down an idea; praise a straight shooter; develop a killer app? Ever hear the expression, As a man thinketh...? We don’t even hear the subtle messages we put out every day and reinforce in our own minds.
Stop Thinking the Competition is the Enemy – Our competitors are not our enemies. When I first started my business I was getting advice from a more experienced business owner. She bragged about how she had driven her major competitor out of business. I wasn’t impressed then or now. Why spend all that energy destroying someone else? Has airline or banking service improved with all the gobbling up of the competition? Personally, I want strong competitors. They keep me on my toes, innovating, and improving.
Start being Likable – Machiavelli helped spread the idea leaders should be feared rather than loved. Why do we associate likability with weak leadership? Joe Caccavo, the absolutely best boss I ever had, was loved and admired by his team. He was also tough and demanded our best from us. He took us to task when it was necessary. He was fair, patient, and supportive. He wanted to see each of us succeed and did everything he could to make that possible. We would have followed him anywhere and did more than any of us believed possible.
Start Looking for Synergy – I joined a new mastermind group recently. All of us are involved in the professional speaking business but none of us see one another as competitors. Instead we are all working together to help one another be more successful. Ideas and insights flow. We share our challenges and fears. The group dynamic creates a heady mix of inspiration, innovation, and tough love.
Start Caring for those you Disagree with – When we demonize those we disagree with, we stop having a dialogue; we stop learning; we stop understanding the complexity of our world. Corporate politics are just as nasty as the government-related kind. Enormous losses accrue to every organization when the politics become toxic and anti-productive. When Michael Howe took over Arby’s, he turned the chain around by leading a cultural revolution. It was certainly not easy but his efforts created a people-focused positive culture that doubled cash flow and grew revenue dramatically in a few years.
So give it some thought. Could you be more successful pursuing positive relationships and embracing your inner Rabbit and chasing out a little of your inner Tiger? I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly going to give it a go…It’s a New Year, so why not a new approach? Especially when it’s proved so successful as a business strategy.
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© Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, President, Advantage Leadership, Inc
Want to know more about the leaders in today’s blog and others who have transformed their organizational cultures to improve bottom- and top- line results? Check out Conventional Wisdom: How Today’s Leaders Plan, Perform, and Progress Like the Founding Fathers.