The One-Minute Change That Will Transform Your Company

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Lisa Earle McLeod for Fast Company magazine. To read the complete article, check out other online resources, subscribe to the free Fast Company newsletter, and obtain deep discount subscription information, please click here.

Image: Flickr user Purplemattfish

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“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone reveals their authentic image.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We talk a lot about major pivots–but what about minor ones? Here’s how one small piece of pivotal behavior can change your company for the better.

Can a single behavior elevate an entire organization? It can–if it’s the right behavior. Here’s how a simple 1-minute act helped an organization reinforce its purpose and outperform its competition by leaps and bounds.

I have a college-age daughter. My family and I were moving her into Boston University (BU) over Labor Day weekend. The four of us, mom, dad, college daughter and her younger sister, were standing on the street, looking befuddled at the campus map. At that moment, a friendly and official-looking gentleman approached us, asking, “Can I help you find something?”

He introduced himself as the dean of students. He asked where we were from, told us he was delighted to have us on campus, and pointed us in the right direction.

Keep in mind that this is a major university in the middle of a huge city with 4,500 freshmen moving in on the same day. Yet the dean himself personally approached us. And here’s the kicker: it’s not just because he’s a friendly extrovert. It’s their official campus policy.

Any staff member who sees someone looking at one of the big maps is expected to approach them and offer help. One staff member joked, “It’s a fireable offense to walk by people at the map and not offer to help.”

They don’t view it as a punitive thing. That single behavior–help people when they’re standing at the sign–is purposeful for the BU staff. It was emblematic of their organizational culture and how they perceive themselves. It reinforces BU’s purpose of “Educating students to be reflective, resourceful individuals ready to live, adapt, and lead in an interconnected world.”

Dean Kenneth Elmore, the gentleman who greeted my family at the sign, says, “We should never walk past [people who are] looking at a map or if they visibly look lost. I tell my staff that [this is an] opportunity to step up and see how you can help them. If I do see that you walked past them, because you have other things on your mind, we need to have a conversation and think about whether or not you should still work here.”

Greeting people at the sign is more than just a nicety at BU; it reinforces their purpose.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, from Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud by Lisa Earle McLeod. Copyright 2012 by Lisa Earle McLeod. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers. Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant who has worked with clients like Apple, Kimberly-Clark, and Pfizer to create passionate, purpose-driven sales organizations.

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