I Don’t Speak Starbucks & Other Leader Impediments

Way too many of these in my house!

Do you speak Starbucks?

Vacationing with my family at Walt Disneyworld, and I was in need of a little caffeine. We had spent the morning at Epcot, a place our children didn’t enjoy nearly as much as the other parks. In fact, they were sure to let us know it, several times over, until we pulled the plug and agreed to head to another park.

Beaten down from all the kid pushback and overall Disney experience, a little caffeine sounded like a great idea. Older daughter Lauren knew where every coffee place was in Epcot, so she was able to find us a Starbuck’s on the way out of Epcot. Not a big coffee drinker, a mocha sounded good. Problem was, I didn’t know how to order my drink. I don’t speak Starbuck’s.

Lauren is a Starbuck’s gold-card-uber-loyal-member, so I had her coach me while we waited in line. She enjoyed this, and since I was also buying her an iced foo-foo drink of some kind, she was infinitely patient with my questions. I proudly ordered my drink without a hitch, and I was able to power through our Disney afternoon and evening. I had conquered Starbuck’s and then Disney.

When leading change, it’s tempting to skip over the training, knowing that someone else can interpret for us, and likely, someone else is actually going to do the work. I think of companies bringing in Scrum or Lean, and how it’s usually the doers who attend training. Yet if the heart of your leader job is to focus on your people as they focus on the work, you need to do more. Sure, you might be able to get by using some key terms like “restrospective” or “muda” without training and dodge a few bullets, but if you want to be the best leader you can for your people, go to training.

My drink of choice, from Colectivo Coffee, made with coconut or almond milk.

My drink of choice, from Colectivo Coffee, made with coconut or almond milk.

Yes, that training is time consuming and taking you away from your meetings, but it’s training to help you be your best, ultimately helping your team be their best. Win-win. You have a lot on your plate, but is it the right stuff? If your focus is on your people and removing impediments that get in their way, then attending training isn’t taking you away from your job. It is your job.

Let’s take it just one step further. Give it an honest go, and really be present in training. Do not leave the room for every phone call or email. Everyone knows you are a leader and have lots of meetings. Unplug and be present in what you’re learning. Really immerse yourself, not because you want to take over the world, but because you truly want to learn how to better serve your teams.

You’ll leave training with a newfound sense of what it is your team is doing, no doubt with new ideas to carry forward. And you can, because you speak the language.


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