I like meeting people new to the world of leadership. They bring a special level of energy and interest to the position. And because I am getting older, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet more and more of them in executive coaching sessions and in the classes that I teach.
One of the special things that happens during these sessions is that I get delightfully bombarded with great and thoughtful questions. Recently, I was asked, “What is one thing the best leaders do that we may not recognize from our vantage point?” I like a good question and this was one of the better ones in that group that day.
“Well,” I responded, “my late brother-in-law was one of the best leaders I know in this category. Whether we talking about work or traveling together to a family reunion in Colorado, he never met a stranger. When we traveled together, we would routinely pull over to a rest stop and all of the families would pour out to use the bathrooms. Once the children were all back in the cars, we would find him standing next to a trucker talking about where he was coming from, where he was going and what he was carrying. And just before we got back in the cars, he would shake the person’s hand, thank them for what they were doing, and hope that the rest of their day went well. In essence, my late brother never met a stranger and always role modeled kindness and respect. He was a very good leader.”
And on that day, all the heads nodded around the table. Everyone could relate to this kind of person whether they were a colleague or their boss. What followed was a delightful discussion about role modeling and integrity.
This week, show kindness and respect to everyone you met. It will be a powerful act of good leadership, and the foundation for healthy, long term working relationships.