This is a picture of the destruction from spreading ice cold butter on toast. I found it on Reddit. Surprisingly, it took quite a while to find a picture of something that no one likes to experience.

How does ice cold butter on warm toast apply to leadership?

Even with the best intentions, at times we make cold moves on warm people.

We might introduce something to someone, a team, or an organization that is downright icy. We don’t think twice about how what we say might will land with them and we get a frustrating outcome. We don’t step back to ask if our message will be for or against what’s important to them, or what’s “in it” for them. We might neglect the relationship in favor of saying something we think is smart, or “right”. Impatiently we mentally rush ahead in a conversation, instead of staying curious a little longer with people.

The moves we make can lead to a bad day for someone else.

Try to remember this analogy when you’re…

  1. getting ready to offer someone feedback
  2. preparing to present a change that will impact many people
  3. designing or leading a new program

It’s almost the end of 2022 and many are focused on year-end reviews and reflecting on how they’ve done these past 12 months. We might think about goals for 2023 and one frame to consider as a leader is how you’ll show up as someone who considers others first. How will you study and develop your relationships further? How will you change your tone, your presence, and your language to connect differently?

When the year starts new, we all get a gentle nudge to reset. Let’s try and make a warmer, spreadable impact next year.

Here are a few related things that I’ve enjoyed recently and have been sharing:

1 // “How do we squeeze as many dollars as possible from every inch of space at the lowest cost?, you end up with the strip mall.” Ozan Varol talks about what gets measured doesn’t just get managed, it gets *all* of our attention, which can lead to not understanding what people really want or need. This is ugly. (3 min read)

2 // What happens when we lose our curiousity? More To That says we paint bullseye’s everywhere. In questions with answers buried in them, in having predefined outcomes when meeting new people, and thinking we know before we learn. (10 min read)

3 // If you could do small things to make people happy, would you do them? It turns out we don’t, because we feel it won’t make a difference, but it does. Research in this post suggests a few small moves that could help make someone happier. (5 min read)

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