Start Small

We’ve all heard about the myth of the bull in a China shop. It’s not true (bulls in a China shop are actually very careful not to damage things -check out the video at the end of this article to see a bull in a China shop-type situation), but it provides a great illustration.

When you think of a bull in a China shop, you think of chaos, damage, mass destruction. A bull has a lot of force behind it.

So do you. As the leader of an organization, you get to point the organization in the right direction.

But what happens when you’re new to an organization? Many leaders become the bull in a China shop that actually destroys the things around us.

We start out with big changes. We know what needs to be done. We rush in to make everything just the way it should be.

Then, we step back and wonder why we have no influence with the people in the organization.

I’ve found it comes down to not starting small. We believe we know how things should run when we really don’t.

Today, I want to encourage you to start small. 

Start Small

Starting small doesn’t mean your vision isn’t big. It’s not that you don’t have high hopes or dreams. It’s not even that you don’t command respect. However, starting small shows that you have respect for the people you’re leading.

To start small, try the following:

Talk to the people you’ll be leading:

In every organization, the people on the ground floor are the ones who understand what’s happening on an overall level. You can discover whether or not the culture is toxic, what resources are lacking, or what suggestions have been put on the back burner.

The information you get from this small action will be invaluable as you move through the organization. You’ll get the true pulse of the people.

Do a regular five-minute check-up:

We all go to the doctor’s office regularly (or we should). But how often do you check up on the people you lead?

It could be a quick five-minute check-up once a week to see how the department is fairing overall. You can ask what they need, what they’re working on, or what could be improved. 

Make it quick and efficient. But also make it valuable. 

Take on one thing at a time:

I know you’re dealing with a lot of irons in the fire. We all are. It’s what we have to deal with.

However, you also need to be able to focus on one thing at a time. 

What’s your organization’s biggest challenge? Give it 80-90% of your full, focused attention. Keep chipping away until you’ve solved it.

Then, move on to the next big challenge in front of you.

Every time you knock something out, you can see the results. You’ll also feel motivated to continue moving forward on the next project.

Celebrate accomplishments: 

We get worn out when we don’t recognize the efforts of our people and ourselves. We feel like work is one continuous slog.

If you and your team accomplish something, celebrate it. Bring in donuts from your local donut shop (we like Ryke’s Bakery around here). Have a cookout during lunch. Offer an extra vacation day.

Celebrating wins will motivate you and your people to keep going.

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