The end of a very satisfying week of coaching in Los Angeles ended with this familiar comment from a client: “I’m so glad we returned to the basics today,” he exclaimed. “Even though I’ve heard the same story many times before, I heard it fresh again today.”
Returning to the basics is all about revisiting the four values which support “goodness” in leadership – excellence, generosity, fairness, and positivity. We call them the Cornerstones of Goodness, because the foundation of everything coaching is built upon are these four enduring values.
Charting our understanding of goodness
The “basics” is an exercise we call Understanding Goodness – it’s a Synonym/Antonym activity that helps clients discover their own sense of what each of the cornerstones mean. The team we engaged last week was a high-profile hospitality organization whose mantra is “Excellence with a Smile.”
The Understanding Goodness exercise involves brainstorming both synonyms (means the same) and antonyms (means the opposite) for excellence, generosity, fairness, and positivity on a flip chart. The left side of the chart is filled with opposites, the right side of the chart is consistent with goodness.
What does goodness mean to you?
Popular antonyms for excellence on the left side of the chart include: sloppy, mediocrity, and cutting corners. Synonyms for excellence on the right side include: quality, consistency, and reliability.
Popular antonyms for generosity on the left side of the chart include: stingy, closed-minded, and selfish. Synonyms for generosity on the right side include: available, giving, and sharing.
Popular antonyms for fairness on the left side of the chart include: disrespectful, biased, and judgmental. Synonyms for fairness on the right side include: transparent, trustworthy, and thoughtful.
Popular antonyms for positivity on the left side of the chart include: negative, toxic, and gossip. Synonyms for positivity on the right side include: optimistic, happy, and believe.
The client added: “The key to staying on the right side of the chart – both literally and figuratively – is our ability to anticipate all of the things that can happen as a result of our leadership. That includes the good and the bad. We only get sucked into the antonyms when we are threatened by surprise!” That’s really important when your in the hospitality business, and your customers expect “Excellence with a Smile!”
A lesson for each of us
Regardless of your business or your role in your family – what happened to your mood and tone the last time you were surprised? Did you embrace the moment in ways that role modeled excellence, generosity, fairness, and positivity? Or did you slide down into the darkness of the antonyms?
Good leaders who radiate goodness spend time appreciating what’s come before them, and anticipating what could happen next. Because they intend to radiate goodness everyday, especially when they get surprised.
Please share with me: How do you anticipate goodness?