Hurricane Brings a Lesson in Leadership
On Sept. 8, 2017, Chatham County was under a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Irma. People were beginning to panic, and the gas stations and grocery stores were filling up and running out of supplies.
I was standing in line at the Publix grocery store in Pooler, worried and stressed. I wasn’t very worried about me, but rather my extended family who all live in Florida and who were on the road headed to Georgia for safety. They had been driving for days and were scared for what was about to happen to their homes and their lives.
As I stood in line in a daze running through my to-do list, two sweet older ladies were scanning and bagging my groceries. They were pleasant and helpful and despite their own familial responsibilities likely weighing on their minds, their focus was on me and making sure I had everything I needed. I found that oddly surprising.
As we chatted, one of the store managers walked up and caught me off guard. It wasn’t his demeanor or his asking me if I “found everything I was looking for.” To the contrary. He didn’t say a word to me. His focus was 100 percent on his employees. He walked up to both ladies and personally thanked them for “coming in today.” He acknowledged their sacrifice and how much it meant to him personally. I was shocked. I had not witnessed any manager, in any store, ever, do something like this.
I looked at the women and said, “Wow! That was really nice that he acknowledged your sacrifice and how appreciative he was of you coming in today to take care of people like me!” Both ladies nodded and began telling me what a good man “Josh” was and how they hadn’t planned on coming in today, but since Josh had asked them, well, they would do anything for him.
What a lesson in leadership. When leaders focus on their people, their people are present to focus on us. When companies are loyal to their people, their people are loyal to them. We have all experienced when store managers come up to us and ask us if we need help or if we are OK, but it’s rare to see them do that publicly for their employees.
If you own a business or if you manage people, make them your focus. If you want better customer service, then send your teams to training and invest in their growth. If you want sales to increase, ask your employees for their ideas first, before you attempt to solve the problem. Finally, make an effort to publicly praise, compliment, commend and inspire your people. Your efforts will pay off dividends with employees willing to go the extra mile.
2017 has been a year full of natural disasters. In times of need, people focus on the basics to get them by. This means the people who work in the food, hotel and gasoline businesses have to step up, even if they, too, have families who need to flee. But they will stay and give when they have good leaders. And for that I am grateful.
So since its Thanksgiving season, I’d like to personally thank Enmarket on U.S. 80 for helping my family fill up with gas and all the McDonald’s on I-95 from Miami to Jacksonville for feeding my family (along with all the thousands of Florida evacuees who were hungry).
But most of all, I’m thankful for Josh and the lovely ladies in Lane 4, who came in on their day off to help their fellow citizens in a time of great need. You forever have a loyal customer, all because you put others first. November 5, 2017