Sunday, January 8, 2017

A leaders true role

Mr. Jurkiewicz let me give you a piece of advice that will go a long way in determining whether you are going to be successful or not as a supervisor. He stuck out his arm and pointed towards the production line I was in charge of. 

Every one of these people will go home tonight and sit around the dinner table with their families. At some point in the dinner conversation their spouse will ask them how work went today. Your attitude, your behavior and your perception of their value will  go a long way  in determining  their answer. 

"We had a tough day, nothing seemed to go right but ya know it's not a bad place to work. My boss is okay. He's new but he's learning and he treats me okay." or "I hate the darn place. All they do is push, push push until you are so stressed out. This new guy? He's a real pip. He's ate up with himself."

Now listen carefully Mr Jurkiewicz. Sitting at that dinner table are little Sammy and little Sally. They take in everything mom and dad say. When they hear work may be tough but they'll be treated fairly; when the day comes for them to start a career they'll have a positive attitude. But, if they hear work is a real struggle and they'll never be treated right; when the day comes for them to begin their career they'll walk in full of  fear and trepidation. You not only affect the people you work with currently but the people you may be working with 10 to 15 years from now. It's entirely up to you!

You may think your job is solely to produce a quality product for our customers but it runs much deeper than that. That outcome will only be reached when you learn to treat people with dignity and respect. 

It was my first experience managing and leading people in the workplace. I was 22 years old and had about as much expertise and knowledge in leadership  as I did about speaking Mandarin Chinese. There was no Tony Robbins, no Wayne Dyer. Mindfulness meant you showed up on time and did your job. Most of the people in my charge were at least twice my age..

The soliloquy that opened this blog came from my immediate supervisor at the time. I can tell you that 43 years later it is still valuable advice. While the internet and other media sources provide additional information most kids growing up still take their cue from mom or dad. I can tell you that while my father is 5 years gone and my mother a whisper of herself in a memory care facility their beliefs and perceptions still have an impression on how I live my life.

My first boss moved on to other things but his words didn't. I have found a simple key to success as a leader and manager is to treat everyone the way you wish to be treated.

I wasn't always liked but I believe I was always respected because I never thought for one moment that my rank or title made me any better than any of the people I'd worked with. Without those people I am just another chubby kid from the south side of Milwaukee.

I could give you 5 bullet point on how to "be better." You don't need them. True leadership is realizing you and the person across the conference room table, counter or shop floor adds as much value to your process as you do.