Bringing Out the Best in Others

How directly is a team's culture tied to the leader's values?


Dr. Tim Irwin has consulted with many of the world’s most well-known and respected companies, including SunTrust Banks, Chick-fil-A, The Coca Cola Company, IBM, and many more. In this video, Tim discusses the behavior of settling for mediocrity when we could experience the exceptional – and he provides insights to help us break free from that pattern.

It is true leaders, Tim says, who bring out the exceptional. Leaders create the environment within which people can excel. The goal, he says, is to lead from a strong core and commit to bringing out the best in others.

A few years ago I was asked to speak to a meeting in France. A couple of weeks before my wife and I left for this trip, she said, "You know, I've had a lifelong dream to go to Portugal. Would you mind if I reschedule our flights?" I said, "Honey, that's great. Go ahead. Book us into a hotel."

The shock came about two days before we left when the hotel confirmation arrived, and I didn't think you could charge as much for a hotel. It was ridiculous. Anyway, we were booked in. I said, "Honey, we can't afford this." She said, "I know, I've taken care of it." She said, "I took the old blue suitcase from the attic and I've packed it full of food, so we're going to save money by not eating meals."

So we got up the first morning and we were looking over this beautiful view of the Atlantic, and she handed me a box of bran flakes. I slit it open, squirted on some warm shelf milk, and that was breakfast. Well, it was pretty dismal, but the view was great.

Anyway, we went off down through the elevator. And the elevator stopped on the mezzanine of this beautiful hotel. And as the doors parted, we looked straight into the dining room. It was unbelievable. It was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. These tables with white tablecloths, and ice-sculptures and flowers. The most beautiful food you'd ever seen, and all I could think about was what I had just eaten in the room.

Well, my wife read my mind, grabbed my arm, and led me off down the stairs to go out into Lisbon. We toured around, and it was finally time for lunch. So we bought a Coke from a street vendor, went over and sat down on a park bench, and she handed me a can of tuna fish. And I pulled open the ring and she handed me some Saltines and that was lunch.

Well, we did this for three days. It was brutal. We enjoyed touring around, but the food was pretty awful. So the last night before we left I went down to the hotel clerk and said, "Hey, listen, I want to get my bill straight, because we're leaving really early in the morning." And as I turned around to leave, she said, "Well, Mr. Irwin, have you made your reservation for breakfast in the morning?"

Well, it took about ten seconds for her to explain to me that all the meals in our hotel stay had been included in the price of the hotel. And here for three days we'd been eating gorp and bran flakes and warm milk and all this other stuff, when we paid to eat in the dining room. In other words, it's our perfect right to eat in this beautiful dining room every meal of the day, and yet we'd been eating this food in the room.

You know, as I think about that, it describes a lot about how organizations are. We eat out of the blue suitcase of mediocre performance, when in fact we can be eating out of the dining room of exceptional performance, and leaders often make the difference. I actually believe that most people in organizations want to do a good job. I think that they want to excel, but it's allotted to the leader to bring that performance out of people, to create a climate and culture where people can really excel.

I believe great leaders lead from their core. By core what I mean is that person inside us, who thinks and feels and believes, and we have to have a strong core. That core in some ways is fragile, and so other people though trust the person with a strong core. They sense that honesty and they sense that authenticity.

So if you want to be a great leader, and if you want to bring out the best performance in people. If you want to eat out of the dining room of exceptional performance, then I encourage you, have a strong core.

Dr. Tim Irwin

Dr. Tim Irwin has consulted with a number of America’s most well-known and respected companies including SunTrust Banks, Chick-fil-A, Bank of America, Corning, Inc., IBM, The Coca Cola Company, Hoechst-Celanese, Gerber Products Compan...

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