Be My Valentine: A Leader Lesson

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Be My Valentine: A Leadership Lesson

What does Valentine’s Day have to do with leadership? Chip Bell, author of the newly-released book Sprinkles, suggests that leaders can offer value-unique service to their associates, providing a more promising path to delight and ingenuity than mere value-added service.

There are features of Valentine’s day that are uncharacteristic of any other holiday.

And it always makes me remember my grade school days with the big box with the slot on top that sat on the teacher’s desk. When you arrived at your classroom in the morning you deposited your signed valentines in the box.

At the end of the day you got a cupcake, and then all the valentines in the big box were distributed.

Valentines were mostly expressions of friendship, so boys gave valentines to boys with no concern over the amorous message. And you also included girls you wanted to talk to at recess or sit next to on the bus.

Everyone got valentines; everyone had a great time. And everyone snickered to his or her friends about who was trying to court whom.

So where is the everyday leadership lesson?

Be My Valentine is Invitational.

It is the opposite of a demand or command. It is a sincere request, like saying, “Be my friend” or “I need your advice” or “Your ideas would be very helpful.” Leaders who approach their role as an invitation to followership, not a demand for obedience, gain the allegiance of those they influence. Commands gain compliance; invitations encourage commitment.

Be My Valentine is Egalitarian.

It is the core of partnership. And it fuels a sense of ownership that results in empowerment. Egalitarian stems from an orientation of respect and an attitude of cooperation. Leaders who promote teamwork and partnership view themselves more like an orchestra conductor and not a taskmaster.

Be My Valentine is Celebrative.

Great organizational cultures are those that cultivate a spirit of passion (as in pass-I-on — giving to others the best of who you are). Celebration is not an event, but rather code for affirmation and valuing. It is leaders who are quick to thank and eager to support. It is leaders who view their role as serving those that serve the customer or colleague.

Be your associates’ valentine and watch them succeed! tweet this


Chip BellChip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. His newest book is the just-released Sprinkles:  Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. He can be reached at chipbell.com.


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