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A Leadership Lesson...from Lunch

A Typical Day...A Typical Lunch

It was Friday, pretty laid back and I was craving lunch from one of my favorite places…Mezze Mediterranean. Couldn’t wait for a gyro bowl with mujaddara and all the mixings. Little did I know I was about to get a refresher course in the finer points of leadership and service. I was only a half step inside the door of Mezze when I heard, “Hey…welcome!” The door hadn’t even shut behind me and the guy behind the counter saw me and acknowledged my presence without missing a beat in taking the order of the person immediately in front of him. As I made my way toward him and the line of customers waiting to order, it became immediately obvious that I wasn’t the only one craving Mezze that day. I was 4 or 5 deep in the line at the register, and the online order tickets were printing out with a pretty constant hum.

It. Was. Busy. Taking orders, making sure online orders got to the right person, delivering completed orders to the individuals waiting patiently, updating hungry patrons on how soon their meals would be ready, and guiding the cook and service staff as needed. He was doing it all, and despite the chaos this man was smiling, joking, and having fun with everyone around him. Not just the customers, but the other staff as well. Now, obviously I’m not him, so I don’t know what was going through his mind during this time; but I can’t help but believe that there wasn’t some part of him wanting it all to just stop. Or at least to slow down considerably. He was multitasking at an impressive pace, and I was getting tired just observing it all! When it was finally my turn to order, he took my request and my money, and then he handed me a cup and said, “here have a drink on me while you are waiting.” What? I wasn’t upset or frustrated in the slightest. As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about the amazing food I was about to take home and devour. Such a small gesture went such a long way for me. I was already a Mezze fan…this bumped me up to fanatic level! Here's Where the Leadership Lesson Comes In

That’s when it hit me. This man wasn’t just doing his job with a positive attitude…he was leading.

He was FIRST leading himself. And he was doing an amazing job of it. He was focused, not on himself and his stress but on the task at hand, the people around him, and the end goal of serving people well and representing Mezze in an impactful way. He was looking for and anticipating needs, and was actively working to help meet those needs as best he could. He wasn’t as concerned about what he could get that lunch hour, he was all in on what he could give. His giving, service-oriented spirit impacted everyone around him. Not everyone was happy that it was taking a little longer than normal to get their Greek goodies, but almost everyone understood and joined him in his positive attitude and interactions. By leading himself, he was naturally leading others. First by example, then followed by kind and gracious questions, direction and conversation.

How Do we Lead Like this Employee? As leaders, it is important to remember that we must first and foremost lead by example. What we do has a direct impact on everyone around us. When we are positive, we generate more positivity - and when we are stressed out or frustrated, we generate that same reaction in the people around us too.

How do we get ourselves into this space of self-leadership and seeking to give, especially in moments when the stress is high and the thing we want most is to get out of the situation entirely?

Here are two simple rules that when followed, will result in greater leadership impact for yourself and those around you too:

  1. Appropriately detach yourself from outcomes. I don’t mean that we shouldn't care about outcomes. What I’m talking about is realizing and reminding yourself that the outcomes don’t define us. If we fear bad outcomes are a measure of our worth or value, or the definition of our identity, then stress and fear will drive our thoughts, beliefs, decisions and actions.

  2. Give where it hurts. If I’m feeling pain, the temptation is often to withdraw and turn inward to try to protect myself from the pain. This leads to hiding and avoidance which never alleviates the problem or challenge. It typically exacerbates the issue and simply kicks the can down the road to be dealt with later. Instead, look for issues that need addressed and that align with your gifts, talents and abilities to fill them. Doing so helps you tap back into the abundance that is already there and available to you, so that you can expand and grow in the situation. Personally, I’d much rather experience the pain of growth, rather than be held back by the pain of fear.

Of course there is so much more to the story and lesson above. Leading ourselves is simple, but far from easy. If this resonates with you and you’d like to learn how to detach from outcomes in a healthy way, empowering and equipping you to give where it hurts and lead more effectively from a place of secure identity and esteem…let’s talk!

Mike Clouse, The WeInspireWe Belief Coach, is a certified professional coach with double-digit years of experience in coaching, advising and mentoring others to step into full belief of themselves resulting in greater leadership and long-term potential.


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