leadership-handoffI love to watch the flight attendants when I fly.  The ability to provide efficient and quick service while maintaining friendliness and watchfulness reminds me of a well-orchestrated ballet.

On a recent flight from San Diego to Chicago, I was watching one particular attendant as she took care of the requisite drink orders.  When delivery time came, I observed the careful way in which she distributed the drinks.

I was fascinated by the handoff. Each time as she carefully lifted the drink, she would make contact with the hand of the recipient, ensure the stability and pause for a moment to inspect the result of the connection. The follow through required that the receiver indicate in some way that the cup was safely in their hand. For a simple operation, this was a multi-step and intentional process. And the clincher was in the handoff.

Got me to thinking about how we handoff to our teams and to our customers. Where are we succeeding with an intentional handoff and where are we missing a beat with a sloppy one?

What does an intentional and emotionally intelligent leader need to consider in the handoff?

It begins with the original intent or order:

  • What is needed
  • How will it be delivered
  • How will you ensure it’s delivered as required
  • What will get in your way

It continues with preparation:

  • Review the needs
  • Create process and order
  • Address obstacles
  • Check in for clarification or feedback if needed

It succeeds with the handoff:

  • Have I met the needs?
  • Have I secured the handoff?
  • Have I inspected the results?
  • Do I have the feedback that I need?

Whether delegating to an employee or handing off a requested product or service, remember the lesson of the flight attendant and pay attention to the details of the handoff.  You will know, in the moment, if you have been successful or not.

Where do you need to sharpen your delegation or product handoff?  What steps will you take right now?