It might be an overstatement to say we learned everything we needed to know in kindergarten, but it’s not far from the truth either. We did pick up some valuable skills in that tender phase of life, like sharing our blocks and saying you’re sorry when someone’s feelings got hurt. Here in the adult world, some of these universal, yet oft-forgotten, truths can still improve our daily lives and those of our employees if we continue to practice them in the workplace.
Sharing sounds like childish, but it’s actually a complex concept. It requires an understanding of empathy and compassion, seeing the needs of others and responding accordingly. Stable leaders have a natural instinct for practicing these traits in the workplace, and when you show your team that you care, it harbors a sense of trust and stability that improves both morale and productivity.
2) Slow and steady wins the race.
The fable about the tortoise and the hare is a classic tale of a fast rabbit blowing his edge by indulging his overconfidence and arrogance while the slow and humble tortoise keeps plugging on to victory. In our formative years, we focused on the lesson of the tortoise, but leaders should take note of the hare as well. Arrogance is an unattractive trait and can sidetrack even the best leader’s effectiveness. Those who employ both persistence and humility will be much more successful in a leadership role.
3) Say you’re sorry.
“I’m sorry.” It’s a simple, yet extremely difficult phrase to say. Apologizing requires equal amounts of courage and humility, but contrary to what we expect, it garners respect and admiration from those around us, especially our employees. As a side benefit, leading by example means your team will get an apology primer from you and will be more likely to apologize when they misstep.
4) Don’t run with scissors.
Established entrepreneurs reading this post are probably rolling their eyes at this bullet – of course I wouldn’t actually run with scissors! However, the real message of this childhood admonition is about managing risk. Corporate leaders are charged with managing the long-term health of their companies. If we just chase after high-growth goals, we risk our companies in the process, such as by ignoring our cash flow or the business’s ability to get credit during times of need.
5) Take a nap.
Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night, yet according to the National Institute of Health, 30% of adults report getting less than six hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can impact productivity and limit our ability to engage in innovative thinking, risk analysis and strategic planning. And the damage doesn’t stop there – unethical behavior can also result from lowered brain function caused by lack of sleep. Take a lesson from the early days of school, and take a nap when you need it!
6) Use the buddy system.
As Gen X and Millennials flood the workplace, to the tune of 75% by 2015, smart leaders have to respond to a new ethos. The younger generation views workplace leaders more as friends and mentors than authoritarian figures. Leaders who recognize this fundamental shift will be more successful in recruiting and retaining younger workers by adjusting to the Millennial idea of leadership, a more flattened organization chart and transparent, inclusive leadership. It’s all about embracing the concept of buddies – get ready to hold hands.
Daniela Baker is a social media advocate and blogger at CreditDonkey.com, a small business credit comparison website. Daniela focuses on how entrepreneurs can use credit to build and grow their business.