Thu 14 Oct 2010
I have to share a wonderful and uplifting experience I had yesterday that confirms once again what a wonderful opportunity we as leaders have to change people’s lives for the better.
I ran into one of my previous employess at a networking event. We were both excited to see one another and we took some time to catch up with what we were doing. I was happy to see that he had followed my career advice and pursued a job he was passionate about but didn’t think he could land. I knew he could and in fact, he did. He’s a Generation Xer and they tend to be a little cynical about the whole corporate thing.
Anyway, when it came my turn to give him an update, he got kind of quiet. I was surprised at his reaction and I asked him what was up. He then asked me a cryptic question. He asked if I was ever going back to corporate. I told him that I would
“never say never” but that I was pursuing my dream and I enjoyed what I was doing. Again, he got quiet. Then he said ” I guess I won’t get the chance to work for you again, will I”? Now it was my turn to be surprised. I asked him what he meant and his explanation touched my heart.
“I miss working for you”, he said. Wow! I was totally surprised. The bottom line was that he valued the time I took with him, to mentor and groom him while he worked for me. Out of all the things we did together, it was the time I took to connect with him that this young man valued & remembered the most. I told him how much his kind words meant to me and that he could reach out to me anytime he felt he needed to. I gave him a big hug and thanked him before I drifted off on a cloud to talk with others at the event.
I share this story because as leaders we often forget the impact we can have on our team by giving of ourselves. By taking time and getting to know the people that work for us we can make a positive difference in their lives. I could have chosen not to spend time getting to know this young man but by taking the time, I was able to steer him in a direction that fed his passion instead of leaving him to figure it out for himself, if he ever could. That felt good. What felt even better was that I knew that if I ever went back to corporate and needed to build staff, I could count on him to join me. Imagine how easy that would make my life.
For me, the best part of my corporate leadership experience was being able to make a difference to my team and to others that came behind me. The concept of giving of yourself to your staff is so important and so rewarding that I often wonder why it’s not practiced more in today’s organizations. I know all the reasons we can list not to do it but in the end, we are the ones that get the short end of the stick. I’ve always felt that I received much more from those that I have led than they have received from me. In giving of my time and my commitment I received countless rewards from my team not the least of which was loyalty. When the experts say that loyalty is dead, I’m not sure it is. But it’s up to us to foster it in our employees. It’s not going to happen by itself.
So I want to honor all those wonderful employees that work for us, that make what we do possible. Without them our jobs would be impossible. My hope is that they in turn help those coming up behind them so that in giving, they can receive so much more.