You would not have known that Captain Pat was an officer in the Navy or that he was responsible for overseeing nearly 10,000 people and managing millions of dollars in Navy assets. His hair was always combed with a rock, and he had razor cream in his ears. I don’t believe his shoes have seen polish since the Spanish American War. When he assumed Command of my office the first day, I was listening in and heard the faint sound “Rebel Rouser” echoing down the corridor. It grew louder, and I became more interested, so I decided to investigate where it was coming from. As I turned the corner towards the executive suites, I heard the music and nearly fell over. I then saw Captain Pat performing a “crazy dancing” while he put away his stuff in his new office. This was a marked departure from the previous Commodore, who was reserved and quiet and rarely left his office. We transformed from a cold, unfriendly environment to one that encouraged creativity, collaboration, and productivity under Captain Pat. It didn’t feel like work because he created such a positive environment. It was so positive! Because Size Matters! This is psychological size.
When we are in a position of power, whether real or perceived, at work, home, or in the classroom, we appear more significant than the people we lead and possibly unapproachable. We can connect with others and make a positive impact on the environment if we are smaller than we are. Captain Pat’s ability to reduce his size while having fun, to let loose, and meeting us where we were made that tour a pleasure. Do you want an environment that is supportive of you, no matter where you are leading? These tips can help you reduce your size.
Enjoy some fun – Let loose!
Whatever I do, I want fun. Although “fun” can be subjective, it can also refer to an attitude or an act. You could have a smile on your face when you meet people in the morning, a positive thought that keeps your spirits up throughout the day, a photo of your last vacation (if it’s pleasant), or the willingness to be kind (in the US). It can be shared laughter with coworkers, a dress-down day or theme day, or even a wild round of blasting “Rebel Rouser!” on your iPod. This category can include anything that helps to reduce your size and lightens the mood. A smile is a distance between two people that’s the shortest.
Tell us your story
Have you ever felt that you understood everything about a trial or tribulation? Everybody has. Your story can help reduce the size of that gap and show others you’re not alone. As a parent, I share all my awkward, funny, and sometimes painful stories with my four teenage children. This reduces my size and opens up communication. It can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it is worth the dialogue that ensues. This was my 22-year-long experience as a leader. It gave me more than just a job as a leader. It made me honest and made me human. Share your story with the world!
Be there or be square.
We can become overwhelmed by the amount of information being thrown at our faces every day, despite the fact that we are busy living our lives. It can cause us to feel like we are in another universe. Step away from distractions when people approach you. Be present at the moment and connect with them as they are. If they don’t come to your door, GO TO THEM. Do not be “stuffed” at the desk.
I don’t mean to be negative, but Captain Pat was not all fun and games. He was intelligent and loved to see things happen (he was a bit like Donny and Marie wrapped into one package that included a bit of country and a bit of rock ‘n’ roll). Although it has been almost 20 years since my last interaction with him, I still recall the positive atmosphere and the lessons he taught. These are three simple things you can do (out of a million) to increase your psychological size and make connections with others. Today’s world is crazy with billion-dollar bailouts, strikeouts and closeouts. I believe this is the best time ever to concentrate on investments that will yield actual returns, which is our investment in other people. Get up and get out there! Remember, SIZE MATTERS!
Chip Lutz, a retired Navy officer, is a professional speaker and trainer. He has 22 years of leadership experience. He speaks and trains about the power of positive leadership, the use of humour in the workplace, and how to increase productivity, morale, and teamwork. He was Commanding Officer for two Navy Facilities, and Director of Security for Naval District Washington DC, during September 11, 2001.