Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Are We Character Models or Just Characters?

Received this link from my good friend, John Gallagher. It speaks to what managers, what leaders, should be.

My CEO Scrapes My Car

It is in modelling character that employees learn what kind of a culture they are working within. And the CEO is always the best model for defining a culture.

In a phone call with a friend this morning, he shared a story from his new job. The first thing he said was, “You know how you build expectations around a leader, the executive and the people with whom you work prior to entering a new role? Often, once you are in the role reality doesn’t meet with expectation. This one is completely different. The flavour of the culture is such that I was excited to work for these folks, and now that I am experiencing the reality – it’s even better than I expected.”

Wow, we don’t hear that very often.

He works for a family owned business, but not a small business by any stretch of the imagination. They have over 450 employees and the two folks at the top are the founder and his son. The following story embodies the cultural flavour of their company and why his experience is even better than anticipated.

Snow had fallen during the day and my friend took a glance out the window from his new office. There in the parking lot was the CEO and his son, second in command, walking out of the building carrying brooms and scrapers. The two of them began brushing off and scraping the windows of each and every car in the parking lot. There are 450+ employees! When my friend questioned another employee about it, he was told they do it every time it snows.

What a gift! I must admit the anticipation of having to clean off and scrape a single car after a long hard day at work is not appealing – but to come out and have it done for me would be a beautiful act of kindness I would not soon forget.

My friend finished his story by saying he believes each and every executive would ‘take a bullet’ for the CEO. I would imagine that kind of trust, respect and consideration is strongly felt by each one of the employees. What a leader – taking the role of model and lead so seriously that giving time and action to his employees equals the importance of managing the business itself.

Are they a successful business? Indeed they are, and for good reason – the CEO cares to trust and believe in the people he is privileged to lead and he understands there is a two way street, giving as well as receiving.

People follow a leader based on their actions, not their words.


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