Last night Doug told us a story of how he inadvertently made the cafeteria worker cry. It’s not what you think. He was asking Claudia, whom he’d gotten to know over the years, about her Mother’s Day; her mom had recently fallen ill, so she began to cry. Doug felt terrible. My kids immediately asked, “How do you always know all these people?” I can’t remember Doug’s exact answer but essentially he said: “I ask.”
Katie went on to recount a story about when our family visited Doug’s Starbucks at work. Katie recalls the baristas being rude to me but lit up when they saw Doug and called him by name. I proceeded to share a story when Prudential used to provide us with The Wall Street Journal daily. They only purchased a limited number so the receptionist used to hold one aside for Doug! Why does he get such special treatment?
As I thought about all of these stories last night, I thought about the qualities of a great leader. I asked myself “Is it being friendly? I’m friendly.” Friendly is part of it, but that is where I stop. As I dissected Doug’s actions to see where I was I was off I realized that he connects. Friendly is not connecting, it’s one gigantic step away. As John C. Maxwell says in his book Many Communicate, Few Connect. Connecting is a learnable nuance that takes friendly to the next level. Great leaders connect. I have some work to do!