A waiter serves his patrons at a lively restaurant. The music, the clinking of silverware striking the porcelain china, the murmur of whispering conversations (with the occasional load voice on a cell phone), the background music and soft lighting that adorns the fine-dining atmosphere all form the foundation for a great evening in town.
One patron continues his conversation with his business associate while the waiter attempts to offer service. The patron gestures in affirmative fashion when the waiter asks if they wish for a refill on their drinks. The waiter, understanding that the paying customer is the reason for his job, courteously and promptly returns to the table with their drinks, feeling somewhat lesser and insignificant. All in a day’s work, he rationalizes.
At another table, a patron sits with her colleague, engulfed in an apparently very important and intense conversation. The waiter hesitates but then realizes that he must interrupt to offer the best service possible.
“Pardon me for the interruption,” he eloquently says. “Will you allow me the pleasure of refilling your drinks?”
Unlike the patron at Table 8, this one promptly ceases the business conversation and responds: “No, the pleasure is mine.”
“Thank you for coming in today and delivering this exceptional service,” the patron continues. “If you were not here, we would not be enjoying the pleasure of your company and witnessing the pride you take in your work. And yes, please do refill my glass. Thank you.”
He returns with more than the refills; he returns feeling proud of his service, as evidenced by the confident smile.
“Here you go,” says the waiter. “These were made especially for you.”
After a while, he returns to Table 8 with one more question. Feeling empowered by the powerful words spoken by the patron at Table 5, he asks: “Is there anything else I can do to help make your evening more enjoyable? A desert perhaps?”
“Just the check,” says the disinterested patron.
“Absolutely,” replies the waiter. “I’ll be right back.”
Upon his return, the waiter comments: “Here you go masseurs. I trust that you both have found your experience here at our restaurant to be enlightening and inviting. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.” He slightly bows. “I realize that this opportunity to serve you is only so because you chose to have dinner with us. For that, I thank you and wish you a wonderful evening.”
The patron, baffled by what he hears, now realizes that the opportunity missed was his and not the waiter’s. He now realizes that there was a leader standing before him all the while.
The waiter returns to Table 5.
“Is there anything else I can do to help make your evening more enjoyable? A desert perhaps?”
“As a matter of fact, there is,” says the patron.
“Absolutely,” responds the waiter. “Name it and consider it done.”
The patron locks eyes with the waiter and responds: “Two things: Please enjoy this wonderful evening, and continue making this world a better place for us all.”
The leader at Table 5 understands that a happy employee is a motivated worker. A motivated worker produces more, is better at what he or she does, and spreads good mojo across the enterprise. This leader understands that he has the power to mentor another through the power of words and that these words eventually will translate to a better restaurant, better food and better service from every waiter in the establishment.
All of this from a momentary and purposeful demonstration of natural leadership.
And so it is, most everything is defined by moments in time. The opportunity to demonstrate leadership does not begin when you arrive at the office, nor end when you leave. It is there every waking moment of every day. Exhibiting leadership at every tick and tock hones your skills. It becomes part of your value stream, part of your DNA, part of the world around you. It encourages others to demonstrate excellence through the power of will, conviction and encouragement.
In the end, you too will enjoy every chance encounter, every opportunity and every meal that the business world adorns upon your plate – not by chance, but because you influenced it to be during your time in these moments.
So, pull up a chair and let me know: Will you allow me the pleasure of refilling your drinks?
Dare to think differently.