Over a long weekend, I met up with a group of small business owners in a tropical and luxurious vacation rental for an annual VIP retreat I co-lead. The pool-side banter was predictable -- business expansion, struggles with staff, marketing strategies -- but the business talk didn't last long. In the warm evening air, everyone was hearing -- well, something.
Among the chorus of tropical sounds coming from the ferns and coconut trees surrounding the pool, one stood out. It was familiar, but then again, maybe not. It was lively and loud, and it sounded like there were a lot of them.
The conversations halted as the group's attention turned into a collective curiosity about this particular contributor to our tropical soundtrack. The initial consensus was that it had to be a bird, and we wondered aloud what species was offering such a vigorous song, especially now that the sun was setting.
After hearing our guesses, one member of the group put an end to the mystery. “Ah, el coqui,” she said with a knowing grin. “Those aren't birds, they're tree frogs. They sing ‘co-qui, co-qui’ and are native to the island."
"In fact,” she added, "if you take them off the island they will no longer sing."
“... if you take them off the island they will no longer sing.”
How sad, I remember thinking, feet dangling in the water. I imagined a frog with the innate ability to sing being transplanted to another environment and the song going silent. That would be tragic ... and it struck me human beings function in much the same way.
Changing the environment dictated
the frog’s ability to do what it was born to do.
Are human beings any different?
Each person on your team possesses unique skills, mindsets and strengths that can be unlocked and plugged into your core business. Given the right conditions, these abilities emerge naturally and people can’t help but perform and make contributions. Each person – no matter how grumpy or apathetic on the outside – wants to use those gifts rather than letting them sit idle and atrophy.
Leaders access untapped potential in their workforce
when they create conditions for their people to sing.
Engagement goes up and additional capacity is discovered when each person adds their voice to the collective chorus. If your organizational song sounds rather one-note, then you’re leaving resources and morale on the table.
Take a look around your office. Who on your team isn't singing? What changes can you make today to get them singing again?
- Are you singing? Is your environment one that allows your natural strengths and abilities to be utilized?
- What change can you make today to shape your workers' environments to bring out the song in each of them?