by Drew Holmes
This past weekend we had a blizzard. I am not sure the final accumulation totals, but once it exceeds two feet it becomes academic. We have a local company that does snow removal for the store and typically the lot is cleared before we even arrive to start our day. This storm was not typical.
We were closed Monday because most of the staff (and therefore our customers) were not able to get to the store. We planned to open as usual Tuesday morning, but the lot was not yet cleared of snow. I arrived to find one of our team members alone, trying to break through the accumulated ice and snow at the entrance to the parking lot. So rather than get upset that the lot was not plowed, I grabbed my shovel and joined him.
And then a funny thing happened.
As each staff member arrived, they came up to me and asked either what they could do to help or if we had more shovels. One brought her kids to help. Another ran back home to get his snowblower. Everyone adapted to the situation and was ready to contribute and not one person begged off or wallowed in self pity over our situation. Regardless of the job they typically do at the store (sales staff, repair tech, etc.) everyone was ready to help. They all understood that if we do not have any available parking, we cannot serve our customers, so clearing the lot was critical.
I have always said that my job is to do whatever needs to be done right now. And today that was moving snow. When I was Principal Librarian for the Naples (FL) Philharmonic, I was exceptionally young to have such a position. I had two assistants who were twice as old as me and a cadre of volunteers who were three or four times my age. But I had their trust and respect. I told them from day one I would never ask them to do something I could not or would not do. If I was asking them to do something, it was because I needed them to get it done.
Some would call that leading by example. I think of it as showing respect and love. Respect for the organization I serve and love for the employees who depend on me. I have had the unfortunate experience of working in situations where I felt like I cared more about the owner’s business than they did. That is a horrible feeling and I never want that for my staff. I want them to see that I care about them by caring about the organization we are all a part of, as well as showing them I will do whatever needs to be done whenever it needs doing. A team that has this mutual respect and love can accomplish anything.
Today we needed a hero. And we were fortunate enough to have a team of them answer the call.