10 Leadership Strategies To ‘Crawl, Walk, Run’ Your Way To Success

10 Leadership Strategies To ‘Crawl, Walk, Run’ Your Way To Success

Leadership article originally published in Forbes, Sept 2020

How can leaders create a customer-centric culture with engaged, motivated employees? The answer is through authentic leaders who apply a “crawl, walk, run” approach to elevate employee happiness which fuels customer satisfaction.  They go hand in hand. When employees feel INCLUDED, VALUED, CARED FOR, AND APPRECIATED for their uniqueness, they often go above and beyond to deliver excellence.


The Meaning Of ‘Crawl, Walk, Run’

Life is a journey. You cannot go from 0% to 100% goal attainment automatically or overnight. Leadership success comes from setting mini goals and appreciating each milestone conquered. This applies not only to elevating a company culture but also to starting a new business, switching careers, relocating homes, and other big shifts that take time to evolve. I’ve seen people fail because they run at full speed before learning and implementing the basics first.

My mentor, and someone I’m grateful to call my friend, Dan Lynn, is the one who taught me about the “crawl, walk, run” approach and to never give up — even when I’ve nearly reached my goal and had to take many steps back in order to move forward again.

So, here are some best practices I’ve learned to make this approach most effective and, through it, create an authentic, customer-centric culture for my team.


10 Leadership Best Practices To Follow

1. Strive for quality over speed. Set realistic timelines and establish small goals as they collectively have big impacts.

2. Expect the unexpected. Obstacles will occur and are unavoidable. Don’t let them stop you from being a change agent and moving mountains. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

3. Surround yourself with passionate, authentic people. Hire and retain them. Attitude is contagious.

4. Celebrate small wins. Don’t wait for the end results. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

5. Stay creative and open-minded as ideas come at unanticipated times and from unexpected places. Some of my best ideas were written on the back of napkins during meals at restaurants.

6. Prioritize and hold yourself accountable. Not every idea or project can be number one. Break down tasks and categorize each activity by “now,” “soon” and “later.” This can help you to stay focussed and minimize stress.

7. Be OK with starting over or with what feels like going backward. Sometimes you’ll start walking or running, but then you might have to revert to the crawling stage because of unpredictable circumstances. Trust the process. A setback often pivots us in a better direction. We just don’t understand why at the moment.

8. Focus on relationships and strengthen your network. Lean on your allies. It often takes a village for change to happen. Make every day count and show appreciation to everyone who helps deliver your mission.

9. Take the leap. “Just do it,” as Nike says. But do it in a methodical way. I’m a fan of testing concepts and implementing pilot programs. Once you’ve proven success, then continue at a faster rate and scale what works.

10. Ignore the naysayers and live your passion while remembering to pace yourself (crawl before walking, and walk before running). Don’t accelerate too fast, or you’ll miss important steps that are essential to achieving long-term goals.

Change is not easy, even when it is your own choice. It takes resilience, patience, endurance, and trust in the journey, and that journey can be a slow process. Remember not to get ahead of yourself and that small actions often have huge impacts.

Get more leadership tips in my other article about “The Four Agreements.” I write about a famous book explaining how being impeccable with your words, avoiding assumptions, not taking anything personally and doing your best ultimately contribute to better leadership, especially in CX. You will attract the right people and relationships, which may include profitable customers, too