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Senior Correspondent

We have all experienced, the great management phenomena — it rolls downhill, with the occasional expletive variation. We often hear that phrase spoken in a tone of resignation, like there's not a darned thing we can do about it.

For those of you in leadership positions, and that would be most subscribers, you have the power to decide what rolls downhill from your team — in your company, department, organization, church, service club, or family.

We coach leadership teams that whatever is going on at the leadership level will certainly flow down into their organization and out to their customers. For example, indecisiveness will introduce confusion and chaos. Divisiveness forces folks to take sides or creates unhealthy competition downstream. Leadership drama, while entertaining, produces a reality show environment in the workplace distracting folks from value added activity. Just as predictable as the law of gravity, it all truly does roll downhill.

Unity at the leadership level produces clarity, calmness, and a respectful, orderly, and productive workplace. Unified leadership may not appear to be a priority at first blush, what with all the numbers to make, etc. But, that's because we are not generally tracking the costs associated with lack of unity. For instance, what are the costs associated with drama in the workplace?

Unity is a product of teaming. Our simple definition of teaming at The Quality Coach!® is "pulling together for a common goal." The opposite of teaming — "pulling apart." And, pulling apart has many hidden costs associated with it. Pulling together offers many hidden benefits.

I was privileged to experience leadership unity at its finest recently. Washington, Missouri, my home town, hosts a huge five day fair every year. We are blessed with a community of volunteers who selflessly give of their time and talent to pull off this major event with a focus on excellence and continuous improvement so that each fair is a little bit better than the last. Our fair is truly a happening!

It had been an extremely long, hot and dangerously dry summer. We had prayed long and hard for rain, and sure enough, we got just what we prayed for Saturday night of the fair. 12,000 people were on the fairgrounds when the first rain came. REO Speedwagon fans headed for shelter in fair tents and buildings throughout the fairgrounds, and happily traded the long anticipated concert for desperately needed hydration. Folks were in the mood to celebrate as the rain came down on our thirsty little town. Party On!

And then suddenly, party off! The nice little rain would continue in the form of potentially deadly storms. The fairgrounds were to be evacuated when officials received word that two storm systems had combined and would hit the grounds in about 20 minutes as the area came under a tornado warning. Cell towers were jammed. Family members and friends were desperately trying to communicate with one another so they could meet up and leave together, but to no avail. The storm was rapidly growing closer. Folks were evacuated or directed to the permanent buildings on the fair grounds for shelter. Parking lots were jammed as a mass exodus took place.

While this experience was pretty terrifying for most of us, there was also a calmness and orderliness present during the evacuation and sheltering. This feeling that everything would somehow be alright was palpable. With 12,000 people in the eye of a big storm with no real place to go, how could that be? This scenario was a prescription for panic induced injuries, if ever there was one.

I believe the calmness of the crowd was a product of a perfectly planned and executed emergency exit strategy. Fair officials, City officials, and a host of community volunteers literally pulled together to implement the emergency exit strategy. Their efficient and unified actions rolled down hill to insure the safety of thousands of fairgoers. This story has a very happy ending. Only one minor injury was reported. 

Kudos to the Fair Board, City Officials, City Employees, and Volunteers who pulled it all off by pulling together. We finally got the several inches of rain we had all been praying for, and sure enough it all rolled down hill.

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