When my son was born, I was singing him a song called “The Horses” by Kenny Loggins. My father had come to visit and was listening from the other room. When I got to a certain lyric, he came running in saying “That’s it! That’s it!” I thought I had offended him in some way or that he was sick of my singing.

I whispered, “What, Dad?” He explained that he wasn’t mad… he had just heard me sing something that he thought was really important. He asked what that last thing I just repeated several times was. I had to think for a minute and hum back through the song. Finally I sang, “If you fall, I’ll pick you up.” He smiled and said, “That’s it!  That’s all you need to know about being a father,” and went in the room with a satisfied smile.

After I put my son down in the crib, I asked him what he was talking about.  He said that the key to being a good parent was letting your child know that they could try to do anything in the world, but that if they fell down, you would be there to pick them up. I think he was right. Letting people know that they are allowed to fall is one of the the keys to allowing them to spread their wings and fly.

So, what does this have to do with healthcare or customer service? Quite a bit! Right now, there are leaders out “rounding” on their staff and they are playing “gotcha.” They are just looking for evidence that their staff is doing everything wrong so they can write people up or bust them. But a good leader knows that they key to good leadership is letting their staff know that “if you fall, I’ll pick you up.” When something isn’t going right, a good leader comes in with service recovery and supportive correction, not with guns blazing.

When your staff knows that you support them, even when they make a mistake, they feel free to work hard to serve your customers even better.  Just like my kids learned that they can try to be anything they want to be and I will be there to pick them up if they fall.

Life and customer service lessons from Kenny Loggins. Who knew?