“Steve, your phone is ringing,” I heard Rita say jolting me awake. A quick glance at the clock was not reassuring.
“Son, your mother fell, I need your help,” Dad spoke quietly. It was 1:05 AM.
We headed across town to the retirement village where my parents have an “independent living” apartment. It was an easy drive except for the flood of questions that hit me.
As we pulled in the front gate, the security guard stepped forward, “My mother has fallen. Jim and Vivian Laswell, their apartment is in the NW building. Can you let us in the building?”
“I’ll meet you there,” he responded.
Floyd escorted us to apartment 285 and followed us in. There was my mother sitting on the floor by her bed. Like a paramedic, I began asking questions. She appeared to be more rattled than hurt.
Now, one more question, “How do we help her up off the floor?”
Although a small person, I was uncertain what to do, how to help. Floyd stepped up and stood in front of her. “Grab hold of my arms.” In a brief moment, she was safely seated on her bed.
Next, Floyd asked for first-aid supplies. I watched as he went to work.
“Were you in the military?”
“Yes, Vietnam and the Panama Canal,” he replied.
While I did my part to comfort and encourage her, Floyd dressed the small scrape on her right elbow. My appreciation expanded as he treated my mother with kindness and dignity. And with his work done, he went about his job as a security guard.
His leadership impressed me.
How Floyd showed up to do what he did, had a lot to do with why he gets up each day. I didn’t ask Floyd, “What’s your purpose in life?” How do you think he would answer? Based on his “job” and our Story I believe he’d say, “I want to make a difference in the world by providing a safe place for our residents and employees.”
There is something about the retirement village culture that allowed one of its team members the freedom to show up authentically. Bernadette Jiwa says it well when she writes, “Culture is born when someone shows up authentically as only he or she can, leaving his or her mark on the work and encouraging other people to do the same.”
Culture is created when the authentic you makes your contribution, and you are an example, someone worth imitating. Are you? Floyd’s influence had reached beyond anything he could imagine because of how he showed up when his boss was asleep.
There is freedom when we live and work in a Spacious Place. You are in your Spacious Place when you live life with purpose and passion while seeing and serving others.
See the people
The business of business is people.
To help you see the people and show up as an Influencer, consider the Three C’s of Next Level Leaders: Connect. Create. Coach.
- Connect: Discover the Story. What’s going on in the Story? What got us here? See the person, suspend judgment, jumping to conclusions, or making assumptions. Be curious.
- Create: Explore the possibilities. What does “there” look like? What do you want? What would be better? Create space to think by asking open-ended questions; avoid telling. Release control.
- Coach: Care for the person. How will you get there? How can I help? Love the person.
What do you see, people or cogs in your machine? To see the people is to say with your words and actions: I see you, and I appreciate you.
If you are a leader people love to follow, it’s likely you are connecting, creating space, and coaching. Your peers or direct reports, your team or your family will feel human, heard, supported, and loved.
I see you, and I appreciate you.
Creating space to reflect
Floyd is a leader. Yes, he is a security guard. He may not be a team leader, supervisor or manager, but I want him on my team. He represented himself and his organization well. He expanded his influence. He added to our Story.
On August 20th at 1:30 AM Floyd became an unsung hero in the Story. (As a Vietnam Vet, it’s not the first time.) I admire him for how he showed up, his noble qualities of servanthood, empathy, compassion, and for doing more than his job.
Floyd probably did not receive a hero’s welcome the next day. How cool would it have been if at the next leadership team meeting he received an enthusiastic welcome for his praiseworthy act in the middle of the night? What if someone celebrated how Floyd connected, created, and coached us when his boss was at home in bed. What if Floyd was appreciated because he was able to see the people and act accordingly?
He could have said, “That’s not my job.”
His supervisor could have said, “Just do your job.”
But Floyd is a leader.
Let me ask a few questions:
- Who is one of your unsung heroes? Do they know?
- Which of The Three C’s of Next Level Leadership do you want to improve?
- Are you living in your Spacious Place? What can you change?
- What must change if you are to see the people?
Here’s to your Next Level of Journey,
Where are you being disrupted?
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