On a recent trip out west, a few of us stopped in at Shirley’s Tippy Canoe to eat. It was a fun atmosphere with a great staff. Working where we work, we immediately noticed that something was different about this place. Our server, Amy, was a happy gal who seemed to love what she did for work. Believe me, you can recognize that quickly because in today’s workforce, it sticks out like a sore thumb. In other words, it’s not a common occurrence.
So we took the opportunity to ask her what she thought about working there. She just lit up!
Amy: “Shirley is incredible to work for! All of the cooks have been with her for eight or more years.”
EIGHT YEARS?! That’s amazing in the restaurant industry to have cooks who stay with you that long!
Amy: “She is always there for you. If you need help, you can call her. ‘Here’s my truck.’ ‘Here’s a draw.’” (Insert FPU teaching here, so there’s no need for a draw. J)
CLo: “Wow. She sounds like a great leader.”
Amy: “Yeah, and she’s always having fun dancing around the restaurant. It’s fun when she’s here!”
The whole time we talked with Amy, she had a smile on her face. You don’t have that if you hate where you work or who you work for. I believe there are key things in what Amy said that all leaders need to strive for:
- Help – One of the most profound things I ever learned came from one of the sweetest ladies on the planet. Montel Hardwick was my pastor’s wife. One day, we were standing together praying over some people who were having some struggles in life. I looked over at Montel and just put my arm around her and gave her a hug. She then said to me, “Chris, always be there when they’re hurting.” I can hear it as if it were yesterday. You have to be there for your people. They will make mistakes, and sometimes it will drive you crazy, but they are kind of like a second family to you. Make sure you are there for them.
- Have fun – You have to be willing to dance around the restaurant. Or whatever the place is that you’re in. Okay, maybe not dance, but you have to make your place an exciting place to be. Our web developers have this thing that happens every Friday afternoon at 5:25. They each have a bunch of small foam footballs. When the clock strikes, so do they. It becomes an all-out war with foam balls flying in every direction. I got caught in it once, and it was a blast. So, lighten up the place a bit. It makes the times when you’re crazy-focused better.
- Be loyal – I believe to get loyalty, you must be loyal. When you set up an atmosphere where your people are taken care of, and they are allowed to have fun, then you get people who want to hang around a while. You get an Amy who, at the drop of a hat, tells people what a great place the Tippy Canoe is to work. You get people who stay with you for years, even in an industry where that’s just unheard of.
As a leader, you have to remember that it’s not about you. Unless you’re the only one there. And then, by definition, you’re not a leader.