Take the headphones off

Brian Horn, editor,
Lawn & Landscape

We’ve all experienced shopping at a store or eating at a restaurant where the employee is having a bad day, and it shows. They aren’t necessarily being rude, but it’s clear they would rather be anywhere else.

Now imagine that’s how you act when you greet your employees in the morning. You’re not even in a bad mood, but your mind might be elsewhere as you make your way through the office or on a jobsite.

Brad Stephenson was that distracted leader until someone called him out. Stephenson talked about that moment during a webinar he hosted with Lawn & Landscape titled “5 Keys to transform your workplace.” You can read about it on page 80 and watch it at bit.ly/lawnbrad.

“I used to walk through our office with my headphones on, looking down, reading my phone right past the office staff,” he says. “What do you think that’s portraying? It means I don’t care about them.”

That was until his sister, who is the company’s human resources manager, sat him down and had a talk with him.

She said, “If you want to get this culture, don’t walk through here with your headphones on with your head down.” Stephenson wasn’t aware it was having a negative effect on the company.

“She told me the truth. That’s what I surround myself with: People that can tell me the truth. I changed the next day,” he says.

Now, when he enters the office, he engages people in conversation beyond just asking how they are. He also does one more thing he finds very important.

“Smile,” he says. “As a CEO, as an owner, as a supervisor, foreman, walk in the door smiling. You’d be amazed at how much you can change people’s attitudes.”

Sure, everyone has their mornings where they want to be left alone or have something else on their mind. But as a leader, and especially as the top leader, you have to be more aware of your demeanor because it can set the tone for the day, month, year, and beyond. — Brian Horn

March 2023
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