Discovering Pez

by Jennifer Miller on December 30, 2010

in Leadership, Learning, Uncategorized

What An Interactive Candy Teaches Us About Leadership and Coaching

Christmas time always provides many fun memories and this year was no exception. Santa left Pez dispensers in my kids’ stockings—for the first time. My daughter was very excited to try out her new Pez “toy”.  With my background as a corporate trainer, I’m a big fan of “hands on” learning, so even though I knew my daughter had never operated a Pez dispenser, I had faith that she’d figure it out. I  handed it to her with no instruction. As the video clip below shows, it took her a few tries, but she eventually mastered it.

As my daughter manipulated the Pez dispenser this way and that, trying to figure out how to get the candy out, I realized: Oops! I made some faulty assumptions here. Because I’d learned how to use a Pez dispenser so long ago, I’d forgotten that even the simple act of popping up the head isn’t something people innately know how to do. When I watched the video replay, I was reminded of this: leadership calls us to teach, coach and delegate.  Even seemingly “simple” instructions may be misinterpreted, like when I coached my daughter, “the other way, sweetie” and she did, but still didn’t quite get it right because my instructions weren’t clear enough.

How many times have you handed over a task or a project to a colleague or a direct report, thinking that it was a no-brainer, only to find out that you took something for granted? We’ve all been there, right? There are certainly benefits to letting people figure it out for themselves, but just be sure you haven’t someone up to fail. After all, most projects aren’t as easy to execute as a Pez dispenser.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer December 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Thomas,

What a wonderful treat to have you be the first to comment! Of course, we often think of “loving” concepts when parenting and I appreciate how you find appropriate ways to include “loving” concepts when discussing leadership in the workplace.

Thanks for stopping by!

Georgia Feiste December 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm

What a perfect example of how to lead in the role of parent that is transmutable into how to lead in the role of “boss” at work. It’s all about the loving relationship and our deep-seated desire for everyone to succeed.

Perfect!

Georgia

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