KARIN ZASTROW

blogging about DIRECT LEADERSHIP

Leading with pleasure and enthusiasm!

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In this first blogpost in 2015 I wish to send you all my greetings for 2015 that is well underway and for the Chinese Year of the Ram that is coming up. And I want to do so with sharing an experience I had yesterday.

I was meeting a leader in the retail business. His name is Kent and his staff amounts to 42 people, one third of which are full time employees whereas the remainder work weekends and in peak periods.

Our meeting took place at a time where he was very busy doing his annual 1:1 meetings with all of his direct reports. And let me admit that I forgot to ask whether this was all of the 42 people or only some proportion of them. My impression though was that if it wasn’t with everybody then clearly it was with the entire sales staff plus a few team leaders, possibly 30 people.

Now, in my past when I worked in corporations, I frequently heard managers vividly complaining and whining about such 1:1 meetings if they had more than a handful of direct reports.

They had no time for all of those 1:1 meetings, these meetings were taking all of their time, weren’t they really a waste of time? etc.

Not Kent.

I met after two such 1:1 staff meetings and heard him talking with enthusiasm about how these meetings really allowed him to bring together everything he ever learned about leading people. I heard him explain in detail how he was engaged in matching each persons career desires with their job in his store.

Just before our meeting ended, my time with Kent also gave me an opportunity to see his leadership in action. Having taken a short break from our conversation an employee came up to him asking for some advice about a delivery for a customer. The customer was waiting but sufficiently out of reach not to hear the conversation.

So what did Kent do? I mean he was in a meeting with me, right? I believe most people would have quickly told the employee where to search and returned to their meeting. Instead he personified his company and personal values that include customer focus, teamwork, making things easy for the customer and – importantly “do the right thing, even when nobody sees”. He asked me to wait for just a few minutes, helped his employee help the customer with the same enthusiasm as he had just been talking to me… and only then did he turn back to me.

I don’t know if he was aware, but that incident showed me that he was for real. Right there in a matter of 5 minutes he succeeded in not just making a customer overjoyed with the customer service she received, he also caught an opportunity to demonstrate to the employees involved how the company values translates down to everybody as well as his own dedication to being the leader. I mean, our meeting was after all nice-to-do. Being the leader of his staff is a need-to-do whenever the opportunity arises.

Had Kent offered me a job in his store at the end of our meeting, I would have seriously considered taking it!

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Written by Karin Zastrow

February 5, 2015 at 10:33

Posted in Misc

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