When You Have NO MORE to Give as a Leader

When You Have NO MORE to Give as a Leader 150 150 Jennifer Ledet

As an executive leader, you are pulled in 50-million directions, you are wearing 10 different hats, and you are just trying to meet your deadlines each week. I’m here to introduce you to a concept that sounds foreign, sounds maybe a bit crazy, and probably isn’t what you want to hear.

First, let me introduce you to the Southern Louisiana term “Lagniappe.” If you’re not quite sure what this term means, “Lagniappe” is a term that actually has Spanish and French roots. (Remember, Louisiana has been under both Spanish and French rule, so many of our terms are derivatives of those languages.) “Lagniappe” refers to a little something extra that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a customer’s purchase.

Today it is used to mean an extra gift or benefit – a bonus. Folks in other parts of the country might use the term ‘baker’s dozen’ to mean the same thing. Literally translated, it means “to give more.”

To give more. If only we could each adopt this as our personal philosophy and practice! In customer service and sales the application of this term is pretty clear – to give more than is expected. I’m asking you to give more. Yup, I’m going to go there. I know what you are thinking. There is no possible way you have any room to give more.

We all know the bottom line is, the more you give the more you receive.  When you have NO MORE to give, not an ounce, give just a bit more. If you don’t do it now, you can run your whole life as an executive leader claiming to be “too busy.” Now, while you may need a team retreat or personal retreat, or to better delegate tasks, or to hire a new assistant to address that work-life balance, in the meantime, I’m talking about giving in small but impactful ways that don’t cost anything. Your clients, your team members remember that extra inch you gave and it will come back to benefit you and your business over and over.

Take this for example:

I have made it a practice to under-promise and over-deliver – with the emphasis on over-delivery. For my family’s Nicaragua vacation, we enlisted the help of a travel agent who booked hotels, advised us about driving distances, and recommended sites to see. He was compensated for his efforts, but, as “a little lagniappe,” I’m putting together a Cajun gift basket to send to him. Little thank you’s like this take moments, but will be remembered for years.

As an executive leader, where can you give more?

Try these quick, costless, simple opportunities to give a little lagniappe to your team members, colleagues, and clients.

Empathy for another’s circumstances and struggles. Take your focus off of yourself and really tune in to the other person. Empathy is the ultimate virtual reality. Put yourself in their shoes.

Feedback to team members. Your team would rather receive negative feedback than no feedback at all. Please tell them how they’re doing!

Time to mentor and teach. Share your wisdom, knowledge, and experience to help an intern grow and learn.

Respect for others. Acknowledge that differences in behavior, style, and approach are, as Martha Stewart would say “a good thing.” Appreciate that we each have strengths that add value to the team.

Thanks for a job well-done. Gratitude can go a long way toward re-energizing employees to give their best.

Attention to what people are saying. Listen more and talk less. Hear what’s being said as well as what’s not being said. (Yeah, so you might have to peel your eyes away from the i-phone for a few minutes.)

Consistency in your actions and behavior. Your team members need to know what to expect from you – day in and day out.

Trust in your team members. This is perhaps one of the toughest things to give as a boss, but probably one of the most empowering things you can do for your team members. Mentor, teach, guide, give feedback, and then trust them to get the job done their way.

Giving, and lagniappe is a way of life in South Louisiana – embedded in our culture. As a leader, you can make it part of your organization’s culture. I believe that the more you model the practice of giving a little lagniappe, the more positive results you will see from your team… and the more positive results for your customers, and ultimately, your bottom line.

What will you:

  • start doing,
  • stop doing, or
  • continue doing

to give a little more – to offer a little lagniappe for your team? Use the comment box below to share your action plan with us!

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More articles by Jennifer:

Leadership Team Accelerated Results Program

6 Leadership Lessons to Learn from Cajuns

Take 6 New Angles to Find Team Opportunities

Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.



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