Dream more than others think practical. Expect more than others think possible. Care more than others think wise. – Howard Schultz (Chairman and CEO Starbucks) –

This quote has resonated with me so much I have posted it front and centre where I can see it every day. I found it in George Kohlrieser’s excellent book on leadership which I am currently reading – Care to Dare.

Let me explain why, one sentence at a time.

Dream more than others think practical

For anyone who has been a participant in one of our problem solving workshops, the first worked exercise is on those dialogue-stopping Killer Phrases which we are all too familiar. One of the  we have collected from teams is “be practical”. You probably heard that same thing when you were a kid either at home or at school. Here is the complete list of our top 20 Killer Phrases and “be practical” comes in at Number 3 – see which ones you can relate to. Many of our clients post this list up at work – one client put it up in their board room and directors had to donate a gold coin every-time they used a killer phrase. It helps stop the naysayers dead in their tracks.

Expect more than others think possible

For me this is about stretching those who report to you and even yourself.  If yours is a business- as-usual type business, next team meeting insist on your team coming up with at least one radical idea. Then see if you can encourage others to piggyback on this idea. You will be surprised how this one simple change of pace can trigger great ideas. We also provide the technology to track goals with well-defined metrics and monthly targets where people have a baseline to work from – allowing the latitude to stretch and take risks.

Care more than others think wise

I know myself I was always bought up with the belief that it wasn’t a good idea to socialise at work. That’s got to be the dumbest bit of advice I ever had. Often times as an external consultant I get to know more about a client’s staff than the CEO does himself.  Rather than being buried in the numbers (not such a bad thing mind) try also engaging in real dialogue with those in your team and notice the difference – try it at home too. George’s book will help if you want some tips. The best place to start if this is unfamiliar territory is to simply listen more and enquire – but be genuine about it. Stop trying to put your view forward in a conversation. Or worse preparing for your reply when you should be listening.

And if you think this is all fluffy and unnecessary think again. Bottom line is without the soft stuff referred to above, which I think is actually the hard stuff,  a company will fail to continuously reinvent itself and be on a slow trajectory to irrelevance and failure. (knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu)