Hopeful Benedictions

Cindy Adams was assigned to interview the senior leaders of WomenPaws, a high-end pet products company where all the senior leaders were women. The company was incredibly successful, and Cindy was asked to dive into the reasons for their success.

The interview went well, but Cindy couldn’t identify anything special about the business strategy, marketing plan, or other aspects of the business that made it so successful. In fact, the one thing she expected and didn’t find ran counter to current business trends. This was a tough place to work. These were high expectations and critical feedback for those who didn’t meet the expectations. But the critical feedback, no matter how tough it was, seemed to be valued rather than resented. Cindy decided to delve into the reasons for acceptance of criticism as possibly the reason for the success of the business. She decided to meet again with the founder, Marge Breeden.

C.A.:               “I’m curious as to why you think your team seems to accept your criticism so well?”

M.B.:               “That’s something I learned from church. If you’ve ever thought about what a religious leader does, you will see a pattern. The main part of the message is a discussion of our sins and to give us a spiritual reason to be better persons. And then at the very end of the service is a benediction where we are left with a feeling of hopefulness.”

                        “I started incorporating this approach into my messages to the organizations. I don’t believe in sugar coating facts. We can never be complacent and fall into thinking that everything is wonderful. I admit that my words can be tough. But I always end with a hopeful benediction which essentially says: ‘I believe in you.’”

C.A.:               “But doesn’t your team feel bad even though you end on a hopeful note?”

M.B.:               “I found that the key is to follow up the message with a generosity of spirit. Everyone knows that I truly value them and believe in them. They, in turn, respond by raising their performance to levels they never expected of themselves.”

                        “All of my senior leaders have taken the same approach. I have to admit that we’ve lost people who couldn’t accept our approach, but we can’t afford to have people working here who don’t have personal toughness.”

After a few more questions, Cindy had her story. Tough messaging, hopeful benedictions, and generosity of spirit became the theme of her story. Toughness and hopefulness can be complementary approaches to raising performance levels. Just as in religious services, a hopeful benediction can be encouraging and motivating.

* * *

“May the force be with you.” – George Lucas (Producer of the Star Wars series)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.