I’d like to tell you a story about a guy named Moose, my freshman year of high school and an important lesson I learned. Moose was a standout athlete at my high school who most certainly stood out. By ninth grade, he was 7-feet-tall and lettered in four sports: football, basketball, track and wrestling. I never anticipated facing Moose head-to-head in an athletic competition because, well, I wasn’t 7-feet tall, but that’s precisely what happened one day.
I had gone out for the track team and decided I’d give shot put a go. As it turns out, I was the only one present the day of tryouts, so the job was mine. I spent the next few weeks perfecting my technique. I studied film, read books and worked after school every day until I was pretty darn good. Well, I thought I was pretty good. Then, Moose showed up. He walked up and said in his low, monotone voice, “let me see that ball.”
I knew in that moment Moose could and would outdo me, but it was how he did it that was infuriating. Every bit of research I had done, and all the hours of practice went up in smoke as he grabbed that shot, took a couple steps, and heaved it as though it was a baseball. It went twice as far as my best effort.
Moose made an immediate impact on any athletic competition he entered. How could he not? Have you ever stopped to consider that as an owner or manager you have a similar effect in the workplace? When you step into a room or enter a conversation, your words and actions have an outsized impact on the immediate conversation and, likely, the final outcome – for good or for bad.
Your presence has the capability of being a disruptive force nobody can ignore, even if you don’t speak. You can stifle ideas and conversation, others will seek to impress you, and even your body language has meaning. If you do speak up, your words carry tremendous weight.
My mama told me – more than one time, I’m sure – “you’ve got two ears and one mouth.” As leaders, it’s best to listen more than we speak. I’m not suggesting avoiding all meetings, but consider being available more than being present. Allow your team to work with each other before you get involved, lest you find yourself having the “Moose effect.”