With age comes wisdom, or so we're told. The truth is, all of us can learn a lot from children -- and that goes double for CEOs. Experience counts for a lot, but so does a simple way of thinking, uncluttered problem-solving, and even basic, sensible kindness. And as any parent can confirm, toddlers are humanity's shrewdest negotiators! Here's what else kids have to teach us about the business world.
Smell the flower, blow the bubble: Simple instructions, and good advice. Pause. Take a deep breath. Most of us are constantly rushing around and are under tremendous pressure to achieve our goals as quickly as possible with limited resources. That's why it's extremely important to pause and objectively assess every single scenario. When you're tired, or when you attempt to make split-second decisions, you're bound to make mistakes. Slow down a little and make decisions based on the information that you have in-hand.
Play nicely together: Don't pull anyone's hair. That's a given. But "playing nicely together" is important in a business context, too. While it's advisable to strengthen a project by surrounding yourself with people who think differently from you (but are still committed to the end goal), it's also advisable to remember to respect those different opinions.
Sharing is caring: Kids and adults alike need to give before they can get. Anybody who interacts with you is a potential customer, and you need to think about how you can create value for that individual. What can you do to make their lives a little bit brighter, a little bit better? If you just demand money out of your customers, it's not a great exchange. Even if they buy in, you haven't created any positive bonds. Go for win-win scenarios. You want more than customers: you want partners.
Calm your voice: It pays to keep a low, calm voice when interacting with customers, employees, and partners. It especially pays to close your mouth and listen. If your customers have a problem with a product, for example, make a point to open a two-way dialogue via blogs, Facebook, or an active Twitter account. People are naturally empathetic, and they want to believe that you and your product stand for something. Don't ruin that relationship by getting haughty or defensive.
Remember the Golden Rule: Simply put, treat others the way you want to be treated. The world is globalized and connected: if a customer is unhappy with how they're being treated, the competition is just a click away. Create value. Honor your customers' time. Give before you get. Listen. Build your brand around customer service.