The Ultimate Measure of a Leader
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I'm Lee Bason, coach to Fortune 500 executives for 20 years, and I want to talk about the least important person in your organization and mine.
You know, I think the ultimate measure of a leader may be the manner in which they treat those considered, typically, to be the least important people in their organizations. But the first "Aha!" that it ought to give you is that they're really - these ‘least’ people - they're really the most important people in your organization. And why are they? Because people pay even more attention to how we treat these people.
A leader's legacy may be best known by the stories that are told about them, and some of the best ones I've ever heard are about Southwest Airlines former Chief Executive Officer Herb Kelleher. Even when I'm up at their offices now, people still talk about Herb. And some of the things - the stories - that are told about Herb are: Herb worked every holiday. Herb worked many weekends, and it's not that he just worked, it was the type of work Herb did. Herb worked every essential area of the business. You could find Herb working with the baggage claim guys; you could see Herb working at the counter as people checked in; you could see Herb working at the gate area counter; you could see Herb working as a flight attendant. You would see Herb everywhere, and he treated his staff the same way he treated his customers - with care, with goodness, with humor. His stories are legendary! And guess who wrote those stories? Herb wrote those stories. He wrote those stories by the way he treated the ‘least of these.’ Now, the good news is that you are in charge of the stories told about you.
So, what's the bottom line?
The bottom line is that we should be looking for opportunities to do for others what we typically expect those people to do for us. Simple, right? Get your own coffee, and get your admin’s coffee, too! And finally, don't forget it: the greatest leaders always remember that it's actually they, themselves who are the least important person in their organizations.