I have been on a leadership kick for quite some time. Years really. Phases of interest and research, engagement and observation. I read a lot of books. A LOT of books. Some are terrific. Some are crap. And I listen to fair number of number of podcasts. They don't just have to been leadership podcasts - I love Krista Tippett, Andy Stanley (his leadership podcasts are fantastic, as well as his iPad app), anything TED, and SALT.
Mostly, I like to observe. I find really great leaders do things. They act. Lots of people say things - big words, great words, lots of words - but may not do anything that even remotely correlates to the words.
Words are meaningless without corresponding action.
I love this story of leadership. My husband Paul has a friend from high school who owns a landscape business. We were having some work done and Paul was having a hard time connecting with the operations manager. He called his friend Bill and asked for the manager's phone number.
Bill gave Paul the phone number. And stayed out of the way. Didn't step in, didn't interfere, didn't hijack the process. Bill let his operations manager do his job.
What a concept.
I was at Walmart a few weeks ago and I couldn't find pine nuts. Shopping in a small beach town, I don't always expect them to have what I need. Then I ran into Doug, an employee who, simply put, knows everything. Happy to see him, I asked about pine nuts. Off he went.
He came back with a person responsible for stocking the area and sadly she told me that they were out of pine nuts. (Who knew pine nuts were such a hot commodity in Tawas?) I thanked them both and headed to check out. Three minutes later, Doug and the woman FIND ME at checkout with an unopened box of, you guessed it, pine nuts.
They went digging in the back to find me pine nuts. Seriously.
So Doug is a rockstar and I need to tell the manager. Later in the week, I find the assistant manager and relay my tale. Doug, pine nuts, rockstar. She looks at me blankly and says, "Doug ... from meat?" Meat? I thought about saying - no Doug from PINE NUTS but thought my humor might be lost on her.
Then she said blandly, "thanks, I will let him know."
No, you don't need to do that. I already let him know. You in leadership, need to let others know and appreciate just how much of an effort Doug put in to finding me pine nuts ... and it wasn't even his area.
You missed the leadership point. You have someone killing it on the floor of Walmart, someone I look for every single time I shop there just to say hello, and you missed your chance.
Too bad. Leadership isn't for everyone. And you know it when you see it. Or don't.