hero_400px.jpgWe all have dreams. We all have ideas we want to share. We all have more potential than we realize. We’re all afraid of something. We all want our lives to matter.

Why is it that leaders don’t often know the answers to these important questions?

My first job out of college was some of the best leadership training I ever received. I had relocated across the country to work for a large company in St. Louis, MO. I was completely on my own, excited, nervous, eager to learn, and ready to move up the corporate ladder!

Jeff, my new “Boss,” was 30 minutes late on my first day. When he showed up, he walked me to HR to do my paperwork. They were all business, told me I was an “at will employee,” scared the chocolate out of me by having me sign a lot of forms I didn’t understand, and then returned me to Jeff. But he was gone, and had asked Jim to take me to lunch. Jim confessed he had just learned that I was joining the team and didn’t know anything about my story.

Jim was very helpful and introduced me to Jan after lunch. She didn’t know I was coming either. I shadowed Jan for the next three days and learned all the tasks I was going to “take off her plate.”

How do you think I was feeling about my choice to relocate across the U.S. to join this company?

Jeff sat with me Friday morning. During our half hour meeting, he took two calls and left once to go talk to “his Boss.” In five days I went from being ready to take on the world to questioning my decision.

Now imagine for a moment if Jeff had been eagerly waiting for me to arrive and greeted me excitedly? Imagine if the entire team and department knew I was coming?

Imagine if Jeff had allocated blocks of time to better understand who I was and what I wanted to do? What if he had arranged for the rest of the team to do the same?

What if I had heard stories about all the great things the company does to help others and stories about hard lessons they had learned? What if he had shown me how what I did mattered and who it helped?

Jeff was on a solo mission. He was his own “Hero.” As I often saw and felt, I was not a priority. The best leaders & companies choose to be “Guides” and lead their teams and people to be the Heroes. Thank you Jeff for the in-valuable lesson.

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