When I go into an organization to help develop and grow leaders, the client often asks me to help employees understand what leadership is about. Leadership has nothing to do with the title on your business card or size of your office. Leadership is not about how much you make or the clothes you wear.
Leadership is a philosophy. It’s an attitude. It’s a state of mind. It’s a way of operating. And it’s available to each one of us, no matter what you do within an organization. Robert Joss, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business, made the point splendidly when he observed, “By leadership I mean taking complete responsibility for an organization’s well-being and growth and changing it for the better. Real leadership is not about prestige, power or status. It is about responsibility.” The invitation I offer to every group of employees I work with: Lead without title.
Here’s an example. I spend a lot of my life on airplanes and traveling, so I’m hard on my luggage. The handle on my carry-on luggage broke after my tour of Russia (you have to put St. Petersburg on your list of places to visit before you die). Anyway, I take the piece in to Evex, a dealer in Toronto. The young man at the counter treated me wonderfully, and within a few days, the handle was fixed. Perfect.
While in New York a little later, the handle broke again. I assumed that I’d have to pay for the repair when I went back into Evex. Most businesses put clients through so many hurdles: If you haven’t saved the receipt, you are out of luck. If you don’t know who did the initial repair, we cannot help. If you didn’t buy it at this location, you don’t exist. Well, Evex is different. They just get it. They understand that without treating their customers well, there is no business. They haven’t forgotten who puts food on their table each night; treat your customers like royalty and you cannot help but win.
When I explained that the handle broke again, the young woman at the counter – without a moment of hesitation – apologized for the problem I faced. She then said, “We promise you that you will have your carry-on in perfect order within three days. And of course sir, there will be no charge.” No bureaucracy around needing the receipt from the previous repair. No hassles. No issues. Just great service, with a giant smile.
This woman showed true leadership. She quickly diagnosed the problem, assumed personal responsibility and made the right decision. Part of the solution versus part of the problem. And she wowed her customer in the process. She wasn’t the owner, the supervisor or a manager. Just a leader without title.
What will you do to be the leader that you are destined to be, today? What will you do to be a merchant of wow? What steps will you take to lead without title?
Editor’s note: Very special thanks to Mr. Sharma for leading the six-week Lead Without a Title leadership challenge on Blog.SUCCESS.com. Continue reading more about Mr. Sharma in SUCCESS magazine. For more resources, visit the SUCCESS store, keyword Robin Sharma.