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The Power Of A Bow Tie

July 8, 2014

He was the new kid. They were all new kids. A new family in our little town of Pleasant Grove, UT. They weren’t your typical Utah family. Well, the family was large by most standards, six kids. Slightly above average for Utah.

But what made them unique were the accents. The Cantor family was from England. Not just Britain, but the mother country itself. Well, actually it mostly was the dad. The kids were fairly Americanized. . .except for the ties.

We’re a church going neighborhood. And it’s a traditional church, white shirts and ties, even for the young men. The Cantor men and boys wore bow ties.

Terry was my son’s age, twelve. He was the new kid, his family “wasn’t from around here,” and he wore bow ties.

What do you think happened to Terry?

Not what I expected.

A lot is made of the influence a single negative person can have in an organization. Sports teams talk about “the cancer in the clubhouse.” Managers will interview for “team fit” and pass on an otherwise qualified person if they don’t think the candidate will fit in with their coworkers.

Less is made of the positive influencers. Every team wants a positive influence, of course. But, they often get them more by accident than by design. A team, either sports or business can identify the influence of a negative person and act accordingly, typically by getting rid of the person. They spend less time identifying the positive influences a person can bring and trying to cultivate it.

But the influence can be dramatic. It’s nearly impossible to quantify. Does a team with positive influencers perform better? Absolutely. Can I tell you why? How? Not really. But, I’ve seen the difference. Maybe it’s because people work better when they like each other. Maybe they do a better job of watching each other’s backs.

A funny thing happens when you have a positive influencer. People change. When an influencer starts to pay better attention to detail, your team becomes known as a team that pays attention to detail. And when they become known as a team that pays attention to details, they BECOME a team that pays attention to details. Attention to detail, or engineering discipline, or superior craftsmanship, or whatever the influencer brings spreads.

And they often don’t even know they are doing it, neither the influencer nor the influenced. It just becomes the new normal. Such is the power of a positive influence.

Terry didn’t get teased. He didn’t get ridiculed. In fact a strange thing happened.

Dad, do you have a tie I can borrow?

You’ve got several ties.

Do you have a bow tie?

Bow ties became very popular among the young men in our congregation.


Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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From → Team Building

  1. RandyGrein permalink

    If you watched Dr. who you would know that bow ties are cool. (Grin)

    • True, but my boys have never seen Dr Who. That’s actually a picture of two of my sons at the end.

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