“We owe it to each other to tell stories.” (Quote by Neil Gaiman, author) In the spirit of telling stories, I want to share two stories about values. Both are amazing in their own right – one positive and one negative. The first story is about selfless servant leadership. It is an inspiring story about a leadership team’s incredible tactic to continue to pay their employees. The second story is about lousy leadership. It is a discouraging story about a leader who disregarded the entire staff’s health and well-being.
I was in the grocery store last week and overheard a conversation that seemed to be between a husband and a wife. They talked about their company and were agreeing to sell a family heirloom to continue paying their employees. Many questions ran through my mind that I was dying to ask. What is their heirloom? How much is it worth? What is their business? How many employees do they have? Does this “thing” represent their retirement or their children’s or grandchildren’s inheritance? What were the data points that led to this monumental decision? The answers were none of my business. I was in the same aisle at the grocery store at that precise moment. WOW! These are special people. Based on their conversation, they are a strong and positive leadership team that cares for their employees. Your conversation filled me with gratitude for people like you, leaders who put their employees first to this mysterious couple. I salute you!
Now, for a downer story involving a small local company in which the leadership earned employee trust and blew it. In a downtown office building, employees went to work, per usual. Then, COVID-19 showed up, and companies all around town and all over the country worked from home. Though everyone could be just as productive from home, this downtown company’s leader instructed his employees to continue to come into the office. Even after the official quarantine was in effect, he still ignored the lockdown orders and told his employees to keep coming into the office. Even after the building that housed their office shut down, this leader looked into whether his company had to comply.
In fact, he explored the possibility of circumventing all guidelines and getting his employees into the officially closed building. I understand and support passion for one’s work. But, nothing supersedes the safety of human life, especially those that support your company daily! As the old saying goes, what goes around comes around. It’s hard to believe this leader’s action engineered the loyalty and positive morale crucial to a company’s culture of success.