Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Close Shave: A Great Idea for Leaders and Managers.

Many of you have heard that Alberta is introducing a "Distracted Driver" law this fall. It will fine people who are distracted while driving. What "distraction" means is at the judgment call of the officer watching you. It may be for talking on your hand held cellphone. It could also be for flossing your teeth or trying to balance a Wendy's Combo Meal on your lap while also navigating the road.

This past week I would have been guilty as charged!

The culprit: My new electric shaver.

The story: A great reminder of an important leadership principle for personal and team growth.

Before you lynch me: I wasn't trying to shave as I was driving (although I have witnessed that).

I recently bought my first electric razor. While saving on the costs of a $3 disposable blade that might last 4 shaves is great, I have to confess it has taken a bit to get used to.

With the old disposable blade, one swish line around my face and the hairs in my blade's path were gone. With the electric shaver, I'm finding I'm having to take 3, 4, even up to 10 swipes at those same stubborn hairs to get the same result.

So on Thursday of this past week I was at home getting ready to deliver a Supervisors Workshop in Calgary. I spent around 5 minutes swerving my new electric shaver around my face... straight paths up, straight paths down and circular motions. After about five minutes, it looked like I had achieved the desired result: a clean-shaven face!

I was a happy camper until having left our neighbourhood, I glanced in the rear view mirror of my car. Thursday was a fantastically sunny day in Calgary and to my horror (and distraction) the brilliant light of the sun combined with the magnification of the rear view mirror exposed a few things that the dimmer lighting of my bathroom had not. Like:

Two hairs that stood out like pine treees between my upper lip and my nose.

The equivalent to a Red Wood Forest growing beautifully on the left side of my face just under the chin bone and many seedlings still emerging at various and random spots on my face.

I felt like i would have been better cast as a creature in a horror film that day than as a professional trainer of a management workshop. I had to buy a disposable blade on the way and finish what I had started with my electric razor.

The experience reinforced a great management principle to me:

Everyone on your team (including you) is coming to your workplace with their strengths (perfect shave) and weaknesses (my less than perfect shave).

Great individuals and teams are not afraid to shine the full light of the sun on both of them. As a a leader, you know that when team members can feel free to openly share their strengths and weaknesses, you can put each individual in a position to succeed and use their strengths. The strengths of one team member will cover the weakness of another and vice versa. Overall the team is put in the best position to win.

After all, it is only when we are truly comfortable looking at who we really are today that we can create a powerful vision and plan for the person or team we want to be tomorrow.

Happy Shaving! just not while driving please :O)

David Benjatschek is a professional speaker/trainer and rock star change agent whose Leadership & Communication Workshops span across North America. Two new powerful public workshops will be hitting Ontario & Alberta this summer and fall. For details on the First Time Manager's Two Day Boot Camp or Prioritize and Organize for Success CLICK HERE. You can reach David by email:

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