I was getting in a taxi to head for the airport in Dallas when a man asked if he could share the cab. “No problem, I’d love to have the company,” I replied. He got in and we exchanged introductions and business cards.
He’s a soccer coach for Hartford University and was in Dallas for a youth soccer program. From there he was headed to Portugal to help their national team prepare for the World Cup matches. After a week in Portugal he was going to Germany. He would travel on to Ireland to recruit for the Portugal teamHe would then travel onPortugal and finally back to Connecticut by the end of the month. He was very interesting and well-traveled!
He was passionate about soccer. But he was also interested in me. He does a fair amount of speaking on soccer and was interested in my thoughts on public speaking. We had a great conversation. He’s never had any formal training in presentation skills. But he never has any trouble with speaking publicly because he loves talking about soccer. When I told him his passion and excitement probably made up for any challenges he might have in his presentations, he was amazed. We talked about his passion and skills. I didn’t try to sell him anything.
When we parted he asked me to contact him. With his schedule over the next week he was afraid I’d get overlooked so he put the responsibility on me. I didn’t mind.
His passion and enthusiasm for soccer and a desire to learn presentation skills to augment that passion; make him an ideal candidate for leadership development.
I was about to board a flight from St. Louis to Chicago. I had checked in, checked my bag, made it through security and was at the gate. Then I realized I’d left a file folder on the check-in counter. I went to the gate and let the person at the counter know of my problem. She informed me the plane was delayed and I had lots of time to go back and retrieve the folder. I probably looked pathetically at her and said, “All the way back to the check in counter, and back through security?”
Without saying a word, the gate lady picked up the phone and called the check in counter. She confirmed they were holding my precious file folder. With a rather perturbed tone. she asked if they could meet me at security to exchange the folder. While that was a better option for me, the gate person acted as if she was really going out of her way to make the request.
I couldn’t hear the entire conversation, but the person on the other end of the line offered to bring the folder all the way to the gate. When the gate lady said it wouldn’t be necessary, I would meetthem- I was amazed. The check-encounter person, perhaps better trained in customer serviceinsisted they would bring it to me. I couldn’t believe the gate lady had tried to talk them out of it.
The counter person insisted and the gate lady relented. She hung up the phone. With total disregard for me, she said it would be delivered to the gate. “Make sure you check in before getting on the plane.” She added. I watched and watchedwanting to thank counter person publicly, but I never saw them.
A couple of plane delays later (my mind rambled onto something elseI was interrupted by the gate lady. She was putting the folder between me and my book. I graciously thanked her. She didn’t respond, she just walked off silently.
Which of these two people displayed leadership? Well, I guess they both did in their own way. Who would I choose to follow? (What about you?)
The first quality of leadership is personal leadership, being a person of character and credibility. One person didn’t show it. She would have made me reluctant to fly that particular airline again. The other demonstrated an attitude and character that would have endeared me to the airline, (except for the context of the event). Now I’m torn. I do hope that the counter person who went out of their way for me winds up employed at my preferred airline. Since I’ll never know I’ll have to trust it to happen.
Oh well, maybe the counter person will read this and know it was them. (It wasthe red folder with a paper stapled on the outside. Thank you Ihope to live up to standard you set and mimic the quality you displayed.