In 1995, one futures trader, Nick Leeson, accumulated so much
speculative losses that he toppled Britain's Barings Bank. One
person is all it takes to do wonders to an organization. In 1986,
the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated after liftoff and
killed the entire crew because of a faulty O-ring seal in its right
solid rocket booster. A person or thing may play a minor role
but his or its impact to the overall scheme may be enormous. A
CEO should recognize and appreciate the work of everybody in
the company, even those in the lowest rung of the organizational
hierarchy. The moment an employee goes astray, the team may
not function as smoothly and an alert manager should quickly
bring him back into the line before the problem escalates. It is
not merely disasters that we are concerned with. As this
business fable shows, a small act of kindness extended to an
insignificant member may one day reap huge benefits and
rewards for the organization.
The Lion and the Mouse
(Illus by Erin O'Leary Brown)
A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws.
A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her
fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion's nose. Roused
from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny
creature to kill her.
“Spare me!” begged the poor Mouse. “Please let me go and some
day I will surely repay you.”
The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever
help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.
Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was
caught in the toils of a hunter's net. Unable to free himself, he
filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice
and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one
of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted,
and soon the Lion was free.
“You laughed when I said I would repay you,” said the Mouse.
“Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion.”
Little friends may prove great friends.
Never judge a book by its cover.
No one is too weak to do good.
A kindness is never wasted.
Good things come in small packages. Size does not always
matter. My good friend, a plastic surgeon, is likely to disagree.
“The glad hand is alright in sunshine, but it's the
helping hand on a dark day that folks remember
to the end of time.” ... Amadeo Giannini
“The ultimate power of a successful general staff
lies ... in the cross-fertilisation of its collective
abilities.” ... Reg Revans
“Be nice to people on your way up because you'll
meet 'em on your way down.” ... Wilson Mizner
“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.” ... Henry Ford
“Too often we under estimate the power of a touch,
a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest
compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of
which have the potential to turn a life around.”
... Leo Buscaglia
“One of the most important things about being a
good manager is ... to know what's at the heart of
the business and that's people.” ... Oprah Winfrey
[browse collection of quotes and quotations]
Lessons in life:
Think of a lion, and you will invariably equate it to power
and might. In the context of a country, the lion is the King
or head of state, and the mouse is a little unknown citizen.
Applying it to a corporate setup, the lion is the Boss, and
the mouse is just a salaried employee. It is easy for the lion
to trample on the mouse and ignore the contributions that
the mouse may make. However, this does not do the lion
any good. A good King is therefore one who values the work
of each countryman as an essential part of nation building.
It is like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle of a million pieces; one
missing piece and the jigsaw will not be complete. A good
Boss should treasure the services and opinions of each
employee, right down to the cleaning lady. I mentioned
“opinions” because it is common for a man at the helm to
listen to advice from his trusted lieutenants, but not from
the little minions. This approach can be costly. Now and
then, you would have read stories of how staff suggestions
save the companies millions of dollars, or avert certain plights.
Do not underestimate a little mouse. Afterall, many unhappy
mice may result in rebellions, revolts, or boycotts, that will
cripple even the mightiest lion.
Christmas tale and generous managers
Value Ideas and Staff Suggestions
Boss's pet and Favoritism
Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage
Books worth reading:
For more on teamwork, Patrick Lencioni”s bestseller The Five
Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable tells a fable of a
woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took
control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped
its members succeed as a team. You will learn about the "five
dysfunctions" (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of
commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention
to results), and guidelines on how you can evaluate and improve
your own teams.
Another international bestseller to read is Malcolm Gladwell's
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
which explains how little changes can have big effects, and how
small numbers of people can cause a "tipping point" which can
change the world.
© Business Fables and Management Lessons