A good leader keeps a nice and clean office area. He puts his own dirty cups into the dishwasher as well as any others that are lying around. Further, she sweeps up the crumbs that are dropped on the floor and she keeps the fridge tidy. Yes, she picks up the rubbish.
This leader answers the phone if front of house is engaged with a client or another phone call. As well, he helps out folding letters and putting them in envelopes. She is part of the team not above the team.
The leader does this without being ostentatious. Quietly, normally being tidy and presenting a clean and tidy place to the staff and customers and clients.
This is not of course, just about tidiness it’s about a tidy attitude.
It presents a practical level of investment in the workplace environment and about people’s well-being. There’s a humility and being interested in noticing little things. It means not being so important and busy that these tidy actions can be overlooked and left for someone else.
Patti McCord, the Netflix chief talent officer talked about the responsible leader who ‘picks up the trash lying on the floor’ and amongst many other things, ‘makes time to help colleagues. ‘
Daniel Coyle in his blog also talked about this one surprising habit of effective leaders. He noted that a famous football coach spent time in the evenings picking up the team’s laundry from the locker room after a game. He commented that Ray Kroc the founder of McDonald’s, was famous for picking up trash around his stores.
This quality sends the following signals:
- I am not above you
- This place matters – we have standards
- You should do this kind of thing too
- We are about things that are bigger than ourselves.
It is the subtle modelling of empowerment in an organisation for the leader to engage in these practices.
It displays the five Core dimensions of empowerment namely:
- Self efficacy
- Personal control
(see developing management skills Carlopio & Andrewartha 2012) p4o4.
This small non-leadership action also reminds me of the excellent book by Peter Block called Stewardship.
If you would like some help picking up the trash please contact me.