Byron's Babbles

Wally Notes

Here’s another post inspired by my visit last week to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. As I explained in Warm & Fuzzy Leadership, I had the opportunity to learn about the founder, Wally Bronner. One of the things they told about Wally was that he was a first rate relationship builder and really knew those around him. He would also leave what had come to be known as “Wally Notes.” These might be congratulatory, thank you’s, new ideas, or suggestions. One thing was for sure from those being interviewed; “Wally Notes” were meaningful and special. One person speaking was an owner of another business in Frankenmuth, and he explained that he got a “Wally Note” that had a suggestion that ended up helping his business tremendously. Now that’s being a great community friend and leader!

This made me think about the leaders that people cringe when they see their name come up on email or text. Why? Because it will be a berating or one more thing to do. Wally knew his people. And is wasn’t the fake kind of knowing. He really made sure he knew what was going on. When he was working with a new supplier, they said he wanted to talk to everyone in the company; right to the person cleaning the floor at the end of the day. He also spent a lot of time out in the store talking to and getting to know customers. Wally was people centric – he understood that people are the most important part of any community or organization. It is unfortunate that so many leaders view people as throw aways, or pawns. They forget that every individual has their own identity.

Globally, many times we work with individuals or groups who have different cultural norms and behavioral expectations. It can often seem as if we have to choose between what is expected, and therefore effective, and what feels authentic. This is why relationship building is so important. We must really get to know our constituents. To be good leaders, we must influence, inspire and mentor our team members. Nearly half of the people who leave jobs, do so because of a bad boss/leader. Retention not so good? Well…

Let’s take a page out of the Wally Bronner play book. We can grow our influences by caring for our team, community, and organization listening to their thoughts and ideas, and sharing. “Wally Notes” were one way Wally found to effectively share. When was the last time you let those you serve know their value to the organization, shared a suggestion (not in the form of a task in a text), a congratulations, or the importance of their work to the organization?

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