As with every impending snowstorm, I marched myself to the local food store this week, to stock up on all the items which I will never go through. Those of us who live in cold climates, witnessed this crazy, irrational routine many times this winter. We grab our choices off the half-bare shelves and proceed to a long, highly frustrating checkout line. To pass my time waiting, I often engage those around me in conversation. Thursday was no different in my need to connect with others to calm my nerves. When I finally arrived at the unloading point, I pushed my basket through and proceeded to the cashier. And that is when some magic began to happen.
The cashier was a young woman who looked fairly calm in a frazzled situation. She began to share with me her take on patience. She explained that her mother is the most patient person she knows and taught her how to gain perspective and not allow frustrations to turn her into an ogre with a short temper. I was impressed she shared this story which a few minutes later would become a critical lesson for me. As luck would have it, the cash register broke down after all my items were scanned and I was a bit agitated. I could feel my palms sweating and that voice inside about to emerge with anger and then I remembered the words I just heard from this young leader- Be patient.
The young woman then apologized to me and asked if I would move with her to another register that was working. I could have exploded but instead smiled, followed her to a new checkout and gave her my credit card. She thanked me profusely for being so patient and I was happy that I could put some perspective on this incident. As I was leaving the store, she grabbed me and handed me a bouquet of tulips and exclaimed: “I so appreciate your patience and kindness.”
I responded to her: “Your mother was a great role model and you are a great leader here!” I decided that this food store would become my new “go-to” one and truly gained my loyalty that day- just from one delightful leader.
Here are some ways to delight others while leading the way:
Validate frustrating or challenging situations
We all face times either in the workplace, collaborating with others or in everyday interactions that cause us stress and seem out of our control. When we show empathy and concern, our leadership shines and we are then able to establish rapport with others. Words of comfort are welcomed and go a far way to cultivate loyalty.
Share personal stories
When the young cashier told me all about her mother’s messages to her, I automatically calmed down and saw her humanity. She was doing her best to be a productive worker under highly charged circumstances. She had a profound lesson that helped her cope and in turn helped me.
Show appreciation in unique ways
I was so impressed that this young leader gave me flowers to say thank you. She could have just thanked me, but chose to delight me in a meaningful way. Leadership is about helping others as well as recognizing their contributions. Go all out and do something special that they wouldn’t expect:
- Send out an over- the- top email describing what impact the person made on the team’s end result.
- Buy little inexpensive gifts for all your team members or those in a collaborative group.
- Write a recommendation and add it to someone’s linkedin profile.
- Take an individual out to lunch and tell them how much you appreciate them and their contributions.
How do you show others significant appreciation? What grateful acts have you received for your contributions?