Post-pandemic, many companies are faced with the challenge of ending product or service lines. When they think about which products and services to keep the natural source of information is the income sheet. Did the product or service make money? Transactional. Many times the income sheet gives a clear answer about which products and services to keep and which to get rid of. A clearly wrong answer.
A restorative leader will consult the income statement but before making a decision will ask the stakeholders. A distinguishing characteristic of restorative leadership is that the definition of stakeholder is necessarily fuzzy. Many businesses conduct customer surveys but the definition of stakeholder may extend out much further than the customer. It may include, for example, the end-user, the third-party beneficiary, the customer’s spouse and family, the community the product or service will serve, and on and on.
A restorative leader will listen to the stakeholders empathetically rather than try to convince the stakeholder that they are wrong about something they say. When a restorative leader feels offended or disgusted by a stakeholder, they seek to dig deeper to better understand the stakeholder’s position. This requires creating a safe place for the stakeholder to share. It requires leaders to receive what is shared as a gift. It is a gift — even if the leader didn’t want it — it is a valuable gift.
What restorative leaders often find is that the products or services are fine but the way they are delivered or installed or services needs to be changed. They often find that a small change to a product or service makes it more profitable. They often find that packaging existing products together makes them more profitable. They often find that stakeholders would be more loyal or would recommend products and services more if they simply received a little gratitude. They often find that stakeholders are willing to be partners and allies when they feel heard.
Trying to decide which products to keep? Don’t just ask your customers. Restoratively ask your stakeholders.
Maybe I had it perfectly memorized but I got stuck. Maybe I prepared for hours but I got stuck. Maybe I never saw this question coming and I got stuck. About the only way to never get stuck is to never leave home and if you never leave home then, you are stuck. So, what can I do when I get stuck?
Spontaneity is the spark that ignites creativity. Spontaneous action comes from the limbic system. The limbic system is a set of structures in the brain that deal with emotions and memory. A lot of spontaneous action comes from the limbic system. So, action matters. One thing you can do when you get stuck is move. To the degree possible, move in the context you are stuck in. Stuck telling a story? Put the story in action. Stuck because you are speaking to a large crowd from the front of the room? Move to the back of the room.
What can you do when you get stuck? Get spontaneous.
It was unseasonally cold this morning so I put on the socks Eason gave me.
The story of the socks started with a summer phone call. I answered. It was Eason.
“Hey Brandon, what size shoes do you wear?”
“10, sometimes 10 and a-half,” I replied.
“Great! Talk to you later,” Eason said and hung up.
It was a typical phone call with Eason. Our friendship had transcended pleasantries. I did puzzle on why he wanted to know my shoes size, but I soon forgot about it and moved on with the next phone call, the next paper, the next person.
That Christmas Eve, my doorbell rang. When I opened the door Eason handed me a Bass Pro Shop sack and exclaimed, “Merry Christmas!” Not a gift bag. A sack. And in the bottom of the sack were three pairs of Redhead socks. Eason was almost giddy to let me know that the socks have a lifetime warranty.
I am certain that Eason discovered the socks while looking for duck hunting gear. They are warm like socks you would want in a duck blind and comfortable like socks you can wear for hours without complaint.
Eason died many years ago now. I have taken advantage of the warranty and replaced the original socks twice. No wonder, I wear them during all the cold months. My wife and daughter wear them on really cold days. What a gift!
I want to leave a sock legacy. Like Eason, I want to leave something for others that is protective and comforting. Something that, once given, will last them the entirety of their life.
A regretitation is an apology concretized into physical action or physical item. It is intended to restore relationships and community. It is a concretized restorative action.
If someone harms another by running over their mailbox, a regretitation may be showing up the next day to restore their mailbox. A regretitation may be showing up with a new mailbox altogether. Or both.
Regretitation is a restorative leadership practice.
A person is made up of three parts. The mind, the heart, and the body. The mind represents thinking which is unseen. The heart in the body represents the affections that are unseen. The body represents the appetites that are unseen.
A life mastered by the appetites ends in morbid obesity, addiction, incarceration, and loneliness. This is not a good life.
A life mastered by thinking seems right but — in the end — is foolish.
A good life is aligning thinking and appetites to serve the affections.