Laurie Flasko, Founder and CEO of Laurie Flasko & Associates, Inc., knows about customer service. With more than 20 years of experience in the fields of customized training, customer service, leadership development, and team building, her skill set is one that draws audiences to become better equipped in these areas of their own organizations. It is a reason why when she delivers the keynote presentation for the Convention Center track at VenueConnect in Chicago in July that the room is expected to be full of IAVM members looking for special nuggets about customer service to take back home.
If in part of her presentation the topic of casinos pops up, don’t be surprised. Laurie began her training career as part of the pre-opening team at Casino Niagara, where she was responsible for training more than 2,500 employees. Later, she was recruited by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission to deliver the pre-opening customer service and leadership training for the racetrack slots and charity casinos.
Against this backdrop, it is time to visit with Laurie about her presentation and what attendees can expect to hear during the session.
“Dare to be Kind” is part of the title of your session. Do you find that most leaders seem to have somewhat of a difficult time accepting this concept and if so, why?
Many of us have been taught that to be a leader, you have to be tough, you can “never let them see you sweat” and “nice guys finish last.” You don’t see a K.P.I. for kindness in most workplaces, so when leaders are only measured on bottom line results, it can be easy to overlook kindness as a successful and powerful approach to leadership. That being said, trends are starting to indicate that more and more leaders are embracing the concept of kind leadership.
Can kindness be falsely interpreted as weakness?
Absolutely it can. However, I find that kindness is anything but weak, rather I find that it is a display of strength! It can be tough to choose kindness when you are busy; dealing with deadlines or critical issues and it is easy to become irritated, angry; or impatient.
As well, kindness does not mean you don’t take care of tough issues. For example, a tough conversation about a performance issue is more productive when done in a respectful, kind manner than when delivered without thought, care; or empathy. Finally, kindness also goes hand in hand with resilience, being able to handle whatever life throws your way in a kind way.
What are some of the benefits leaders derive from applying kind principles?
When someone acts kind, one act of kindness creates a “ripple effect” of four more kind acts according to research from Stamford University. This “ripple effect” creates stronger teams, higher morale, higher employee engagement, higher customer satisfaction, reduced stress, and, of course, all of these make higher profits! So aside from making everyone feel all happy inside, there is a legitimate benefit to being kind that justifies kindness being a business strategy rather than just a warm and fuzzy thing to do.
Kindness also works in a positive loop: you do something kind for others, you are happier and want to continue doing more kind acts! No record profit can compare to the difference being kind makes for people feeling happier in their everyday lives both in and out of the workplace.
My favorite benefit of all is that leaders may be changing an entire life without knowing it just by doing something small and kind for those they lead and look after.
In such a fast-paced world as our members live in working at busy venues, are these principles even more important to overall staff performance?
It has been said that nearly 85% of leader’s results are based on the work of other people, and in this industry in particular it may be even higher. Based on the amount of “spinning parts” it takes to run a successful venue and the fast-paced environment of the industry, it becomes easier to forget things such as kindness in favor of results and productivity. However, it is these little things that make the difference between a good and a WOW experience for your team and your customers.
Do you have any takeaways you would like to share for those who attend your session to take back to their convention center?
Kindness is a legitimate business advantage to those who effectively use it in the workplace. It isn’t weak, but rather the opposite as it takes strength and effort to act kind. The results speak for themselves.
Kind leaders are seen more favorably, get more work done for them, get more emotional buy-in and can change both their own and others’ lives through even small acts of kindness for those they lead.
Engagement scores increase, customer satisfaction and loyalty grows, teams strengthen, stress reduces, and people are happier when leaders lead with kindness.