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Graci Leadership Solutions Blog

  • Writer's pictureGraci Leadership

Leaders, Your Team Members Reflect You

I recently had a rare day off from speaking, training, and conducting virtual accountability sessions. I decided to run two errands–returning an item at Costco and getting new tires on my wife's car. Sounds mundane, right? But if you're anything like me, leadership lessons are everywhere in our daily lives!

I arrived at Costco and headed to the return line. Only one person was in line; this should not be a long wait. The customer service representative, who had just completed a return, turned her attention to signing up a new member. No big deal, right? But then, the minutes started to go by. The person in front of me became visibly impatient. Knowing that many organizations are short-staffed, I reminded myself to be patient.

The line behind me was growing, and after a few more minutes, I thought about the difference it would make if the CSR acknowledged us standing in line. It would be the right thing to do. "I see you, and more help is on the way." Or an honest, "I'm sorry, we're short-staffed today. Thanks for your patience." A few minutes passed, and the woman in front of me shouted, "Is there someone else who can help? I have been here for 5 minutes!" The flustered CSR said, "we are doing our best," and abruptly turned her attention to signing up a new member.

At that moment, as a customer, I felt all of us in line were an imposition to the CSR and Costco. A short time later, a supervisor stepped up to the return counter and appeared flustered that he had to help with returns. Neither the CSR nor the manager apologized to the woman in front of me for the wait.

All the CSR had to do was acknowledge we existed. Acknowledge the line was getting longer, and they were doing what they could to help. All the supervisor had to do was apologize for the wait and not act like we were an imposition on his day. It's incredible how team members make choices every day based on how their leaders react to situations.

I was soon on my way to get my new tires. I pulled into the dealership garage. Four service advisors were at their workstations. They appeared to be working on something else, so I waited patiently. After about two minutes, a familiar thought came to mind. Is it so hard that one of these advisors cannot even acknowledge I'm standing here? "I see you, and I will be with you shortly." But not this time. I sat standing next to my car for almost 5 minutes. Part of me wanted to ask for help, but a bigger part of me wanted to see how long this would play out.

Then a gentleman with a supervisor nametag came out of nowhere and asked if I had been helped. I smiled and said, "No, I have been waiting for 5 minutes." He replied, "I can't tell you how often I have told these guys; it's all our responsibility to ensure we greet the customer immediately upon entering." A few things crossed my mind. If everyone is responsible, no one is responsible. Responsibility cannot be divided. Once again, no apology from this supervisor. All the service advisors had to do was acknowledge me. Instead, I stood around like I was an imposition in their day. It's incredible how team members make choices every day off how their leaders react to situations.

As I sat in the dealership waiting room, I noticed a young woman delving into a Dairy Queen Blizzard. At that moment, I remembered many years ago, my wife and I went to a Dairy Queen in Wabasha, MN. I asked for a Brownie Earthquake. The ingredients include ice cream, brownies, whipped cream, and hot fudge. Once I had ordered, the young lady behind the counter said, "I am sorry, we are temporarily out of hot fudge." I thought to myself, out of hot fudge!? That's like a dairy store being out of milk. "I am so sorry, but are you willing to try caramel versus shot fudge?" Of course. When she handed me the Brownie Earthquake, I said, "thank you," and she replied, "Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you for your patience and for allowing us to serve you." I was in shock and amazed at the same time. How refreshing!

As we walked back to our car, I asked my wife, "If I were to start my own Dairy Queen restaurant, who would be the first person I would hire?" She replied, "Obviously, the young lady, the one who served you so well." I replied, "Nope! I would hire her supervisor." You see, team members make decisions every off how their leader would have handled the same situation. Leaders, your team members reflect YOU!

The next time your team members are not doing what they should be doing, ask yourself if you are doing what you should be doing.

Leaders Are MADE, Born.

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Scott Wuerch

While they may not appear to be listening sometimes, our team members are indeed watching their leaders like a child watches a parent. I still laugh when I think of my mother's exasperated statement when she caught me following her example rather than her directive...I can hear it right now almost 50+ years later..."Scott, do as I say, NOT as I do!" You see, my mother definitely practiced management without a license.

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