A strong, positive company culture starts with a strong, positive, inspired leader who has a passion for their work and truly LEADS (by example.)
A couple of years ago, at the Child Care Success Summit, Kris Murray showed a video to illustrate a point – and it stuck with me. This video was of a guy dancing at some sort of outdoor music festival.
The camera captures, in the background, the crowd sitting in lawn chairs, relaxing on blankets in the grass, and standing around while listening to the music being played by the band. The focal point of the video, though, is this guy who is dancing. Nobody else is dancing, yet he is just having a ball. He is happy and groovin’ – moving with the music. He is clearly inspired by this music and passionate about dancing.
The person filming this guy, no doubt, decided to start filming because Sir Dance-a-Lot was standing out from the rest of the crowd. It was a bit of a spectacle, and kind of funny. “Look at this bozo dancing by himself.”However, I don’t think the cameraman could have known what was going to happen next.
The dancing man was just dancing alone for the longest time. People were watching him – pointing at him and chuckling as they walked past or as they relaxed in their lawn chairs. This guy was dancing by himself forever– to the point that you almost want to stop watching the video if that’s all it is – you get the idea already.
But then, unexpectedly, someone joins him. Dancing guy has a partner! You almost want to cheer! And then a few minutes later about four more dancing buddies join in at once. It was as if they saw guy one and guy two, then had a quick meeting to decide whether or not they’d join in as well – and they did. Wow! Momentum! People are joining the dancing movement. And then about 30 seconds later – WOOOSH – almost the entire crowd is on their feet dancing! What?! The way I felt watching that video had me tearing up and feeling shivers because of the metaphor that I was watching unfold.
I am not sure if this guy was looking to start a movement, but he did.
And when he saw people joining him, his joy bubbled over. He recognized those that joined him with nods and smiles and continued dancing, but now with a bit more zeal.
This guy was dancing by himself for at least ten minutes (the clip below starts several minutes into it). People noticed him, but so what? He wasn’t affecting anyone. Or was he? Even though it took a seemingly long amount of time, someone was inspired by his actions – his consistency, his joy – and decided to join his cause. It only took one person to take that first step and soon after, the whole crowd was following. This is exactly what being a leader is. You have to consistently show passion and enthusiasm for your cause whether or not anyone is following you. Sometimes you have to stand alone and be mocked. You have to give people time to catch on and join in, and then when they do, you have to step it up a notch to lead them to the next place.
I Found an Edited Clip of the Big Happy Moment
When you watch this, note also, that these people are at a music festival where DANCING woule be an EXPECTED NORM, yet people were reluctant to do so with passion until they saw someone leading them. One other note, at the end of the video, when the song is ending, people are still running to join the group of dancers. They want to be part of whatever is coming. Let that metaphor sink in…
In your child care program, you need to be so committed to your vision that it oozes out of you and out of everything that you do. People might look at you and think you are weird, or slightly crazy, but they will still admire you for it. You catch their attention because they don’t often see someone as excited about a cause as you are.
“Is this person for real?”
They will sit back and watch. They wonder if you are going to falter, or quit, or change course. Yet, you stay true.
Soon someone will be brave enough to join you in your mission. I’m not just talking about someone working for you. You already have plenty of people that do that. I am talking about someone that works for you making a noticeable emotional commitment, or an allegiance, to stand with you and work with you toward your vision.
It only takes one, and then a few more people will step up after they see others jump on the bandwagon. Soon the majority of your team is swept up in your vision, working toward your common goal. They never could have gotten to this place of unity if they didn’t SEE your example first. If they weren’t motivated or inspired by your attitudes and actions that they witnessed along the way, they probably never would have followed. Your passion inspires and ignites theirs.
For me, my one person was my director, Katheryn Fisher. I originally hired her to be an office assistant, but within a few months, she had fully embraced the vision of what I was trying to accomplish. She fed my fire, and we fueled each other. With the two of us passionate about our mission we unknowingly created momentum, and soon the whole team was inspired and actively contributing to our movement. We all had the same mindset and were moving in the same direction.
Who are you leading? Where are you going? Who is following you?
Leave us your comments and questions below.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from pages 20-22 of my book, Relationship Roadmap: Real-World Strategies for Building a Positive, Collaborative Culture in Your Preschool.