I grew up in a tourist town. Throughout my college years, I worked in the customer service department of a local tourist attraction, starting at the entry level and leaving as the manager of 15-20 employees in two departments. Every summer we experienced employee turnover, and every summer we needed to train 1-2 new team leaders. I kept the leadership training simple with one motto:
Never ask someone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.
If you need someone to work overtime, be ready to work overtime. When a kitchen needs to be deep cleaned, don’t just give orders, give tips and recommendations based on your own experiences having cleaned the kitchen. If a tough conversation needs to be had, offer to have the conversation yourself to demonstrate how to have those kinds of conversations. By demonstrating the behaviors you’re asking from others, you become the coach in the dugout instead of the manager in the box seats.
I haven’t worked as a manager in more than a decade, but I continue to live by that leadership philosophy. Even though I don’t manage employees anymore, I apply that principle when working with my clients – I try to demonstrate the professional courtesy and behavior that I hope to receive.
Regardless of your industry, the philosophy works, and here’s why: People can relate to you! Instead of calling out orders from behind a megaphone, they know that you’ve been in the trenches. You’ve done the hard work. You’re willing to do the hard work. And you’re still working hard to be a leader that inspires.
Who are some of the most influential leaders in your life? What about them inspires you?