Refueling your People

Leader Refueling PeopleBefore we get into talking about leadership, I have a confession to make. I try to use up every ounce of gas in my tank before going to the station to fill up. Maybe I believe I’m not “wasting” gas that way. Maybe I don’t want to mix new gas with old gas. Or maybe I just like the thrill and challenge of seeing how far I can get once that little light comes on. Whatever it is, I confess that I’ve actually run out of gas – twice! Luckily, both times were before I was married with kids. I’ve wised up a little, but to this day when I hear that “bing” and see the Fuel Low light, a little voice in my head says, I wonder how far I can get?

Here’s the funny thing: I’m also a helicopter pilot. I can say without a doubt that this urge has never surfaced when I’m flying. Why? Well, when you run out of gas in a car – like I’ve done…twice – the engine stops and you coast along until you stop. When you run out of gas in a helicopter the engines stop and you fall out of the sky. As a result no sane pilot ever passes up the opportunity for gas. You always top off your tanks, no matter how insignificant the amount. There’s an old adage in aviation: “You can never have too much gas…unless you’re on fire.”

You see, I still catch myself occasionally leading people like I drive my car, trying to get every last bit out of them before I refuel them. The truth is we’ve got to lead our people like they’re helicopters, not cars. Never pass up the opportunity to give them honest and sincere praise (here’s how). As long as it’s not fabricated and fake, you can never give too much praise – no matter how insignificant the amount.

So top off your followers’ tanks and get in the habit of not letting them get too low.

Who do you need to thank and praise today?

8 thoughts on “Refueling your People”

  1. “to this day when I hear that ‘bing’ and see the Fuel Low light, a little voice in my head says, I wonder how far I can get”

    …And a little voice in your car says – Sweetheart, it’s time to get some gas. :)

  2. I’m the same way!!!! I feel like I’m “wasting” gas if I don’t use it all up!!! Then, when I get a full tank of gas, it feels extremely rewarding, haha!! I’m glad you confessed it first!

    Oh! It’s sort of like BODY FOR LIFE (I’m starting it up again Geoff!) Eating 6 small meals a day instead of eating one big meal a day. I’ve lost 5 lbs!

    1. Perfect, Lindsay! We should be feeding our people small frequent meals of praise – not starving them until they’re “supposed” to get feedback.

      Here’s a perfect example: I almost posted this reply without taking the time to say…Great job on the 5 pounds! That’s awesome.

  3. I’m the same way!!! most people can relate to your story, haha! Since adrenaline is so addicting to most of us, the thrill of waiting till the last minute with deadlines, paying a bill of even getting gas is such a rush and it feels like we are living! Blame it on Epinephrine.. we are all Adrenaline junkies!
    Thanks Geoff for the great topic!

  4. Nate – good to hear from you! Yes, there are a lot of us with FET (Filling an Empty Tank) syndrome. Yes, it makes no sense, yet we do it anyway.

    The same with taking care of our relationships – we know it doesn’t make logical sense to wear people out, but we do it anyway. Life is so much better when we top off each others’ tanks.

    So go fill up your car. (and the people following you!)

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