2012-11-09 10.41.47I’d heard about our “pond beaver” for a year. My lovely bride (of 33 years) Diane has seen it. The neighbors have seen it. I’d never seen it, until this past Friday.

Since I’d never seen it, I didn’t quite believe we had a pond beaver. Our mountain community is remote but we live on a school bus route. Our road has regular traffic. The pond is 40′ from the road. I couldn’t imagine a beaver taking up residence in our little pond in an inhabited neighborhood.

I thought, “My wife and our neighbors have been seeing things.”

On Friday, I had a number of client calls. My cordless phone and headset allows me to be on calls and walk, stretch, and talk. I was upstairs on our deck. The phone was muted because of breezy conditions. And – there he was. Our pond beaver was real.

He (or she – we’re not certain at this point) is huge. His body is easily 3′ in length and his flat tail adds another 12″. He’s healthy – I believe he weighs 40 pounds.

He was waddling across the meadow, stocking up on fresh branches for his winter meals. He’d chew down a small, narrow tree then drag it into the pond and disappear into the lodge he’d built over the past year. A few minutes later he’d pop to the water’s surface again, swim around a bit to check out his surroundings, and head across the meadow for more provisions.

2012-11-09 10.43.34I grabbed my DSLR and took these pictures to document his activities.

Take Off Your Blinders

It is a thrill to see wildlife thriving in our mountain neighborhood. We see deer, foxes, ducks, and elk regularly, and bears periodically. And, this was a treat. It is my own fault for not noticing our new neighbor before now. I didn’t pay attention to the reality in front of me.

Leaders experience this all too often and may not be aware of it. Organizations and teams are constantly in flux. New processes, new services, new opportunities, etc. are exciting and threatening at the same time!

Leaders fall into routines that serve the daily activities and habits that “work” for them. They trust and act on what information is “in front of them.” However, we all have made lousy decisions when we are disconnected from the reality that others (employees and customers, for example) experience.

We need to “shake up” our routine, change our perspective, and learn as much as we can about what others are experiencing. Leaders must push themselves away from their desks, their keyboards, even their smartphones, and connect face-to-face with employees. Those connections shed light on refinements that can boost employee morale, WOW customers, and generate better profits for your business.

How can you change your perspective and connect more deeply with your people? Consider:

  • Take 30 minutes a day to “wander around” strategically. Connect with staff one on one. Ask, “How’s it going?” and “How can we make your job easier?” (Then make changes, where possible, that address employee issues.)
  • Do weekly breakfast or lunch with a random selection of 5-6 employees. Have no agenda other than to ask the two questions above.

Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. What are ways that you “shake up your routine” and learn other’s perceptions?

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Photos © S. Chris Edmonds.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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