Who comes first?

A series on management basics and more

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Who comes first - self, team members or customers? My first answer is to say all three come first. So much depends on the context of the question. The context could be who comes first at work, at home or in the community. It is a question of priorities. There is a lot to be considered about this question of who comes first. Here are three approaches:

• "First among equals" is an idea that I mentioned recently from "Servant Leadership," a book by Robert Greenleaf. I affirm this approach because it validates the worth of each individual involved. This calls for respect, active listening and appreciation of each person. This approach recognizes that due order and process are necessary and need to be respected by all involved. If we manage our life and work with this approach in mind, might this change our world and how we do business and live life?

• Collaboration is an approach to consider. An image of collaboration is gathering around a round table (of equals) and each participant sharing their perspectives, ideas, questions and suggestions. Involvement, participation and being informed are valued in this approach. Paulo Freire in his book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," sees this approach as a model of education.

• Togetherness, team and oneness create an approach of unity. A view of "we are in this together" can include both approaches above. The team recognizes needs and celebrates each individual's uniqueness and shared diversity. Oneness affirms our interdependent humanity.

Here are some statements about who comes first:

• Regarding accountability, I agree with Dee Hock in his book, "Birth of the Chaordic Age." He is talking about the order of who we manage. I am including the order of who we hold accountable. Hock's order of whom to manage first is: self, boss, peers and then people who report to us. If each person manages and holds themselves accountable first, that would certainly create a different world and workplace.

• Many businesses place the almighty dollar first, customers second and employees last. What if first, we create a team of competent, accountable and very happy employees? Second, the team would take care of all customers to the best of their ability. Third, the sales of our products and services would be abundant. And even better results could be achieved if we find ways to treat customers as team members.

• Take care of self first - regarding health, rest, relaxation and training - to be ready to serve others.

• Ensure the well-being of all team members - body, mind and spirit, thus creating a culture where all folks feel their value and worth first.

The question of who comes first is actually an unconscious question we typically answer unconsciously every moment of every day. If we can become conscious of that question as we work and live, I expect we might make many different choices and decisions.

Who comes first and/or what comes first in your mind, your life and at work? As you answer these questions, identify your values being expressed.

Linnartz - of Empowerment Experts - is a consultant, coach and facilitator of individuals, teams, families and organizations. Comments, questions and suggested topics are welcome. Call (575) 770-4712 or email bernie356@me.com.

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