There is a story that is told of an old lady who came to the post office frequently to buy stamps. And that story presents us with a leadership trait that we would all do well to develop.
It seems as though she was a fragile and frail senior citizen. She showed up one day during the busy Christmas season and queued up in the line to buy stamps. Unfortunately, the line wound its way around the inside of the post office and spilled out onto the sidewalk outside.
A concerned customer behind her said as he pointed to a stamp machine built into the far wall, “Ma’am, you must be getting very tired. Did you know there’s a stamp machine over there in the lobby?”
“Why yes, thank you, dear,” the elderly lady replied, “but I’ll just wait here a little while longer. It’s nearly my turn now.”
The good Samaritan became almost insistent. “But, it’d be so much easier for you to avoid this long line if you’d buy your stamps from the machine.”
The kind old woman patted him on the arm, and answered, “Oh I know that, sweetie but that machine on the wall would never ask me how my grandchildren are doing.”
There it was. Did you get it? Did you see the leadership trait that is so important for us to exhibit?
What is the leadership trait?
It is this. The leadership trait is that real leaders care. And their followers know it. The postmaster of that little post office obviously cared enough about his or her customers that they took a few extra moments each time the elderly lady came in to buy stamps. And in that few moments, the postmaster was able to simply ask about the old woman and about her grandchildren. As a grandparent myself I will tell you that there is no quicker way to get on my good side and endear yourself to me than to ask about my grandchildren.
I have three, you know. I would be happy to show you some pictures of them if you would like me to. I may even show you if you don’t!
Kindness is cheap.
Kindness is cheap. I don’t mean of low quality and little value. I mean that it doesn’t cost you a dime to be nice. There are tons of leadership seminars on which you can spend your money. But let me save you some money. Just be nice. Be kind. Show compassion to all that you come in contact with today.
Why should I?
That elderly woman could have been in and out of the post office quickly if she would have just used the stamp vending machine on the wall. (We won’t even discuss that she could use email and pay her bills online.) But she chose the “harder” route and waited in the line until she could spend just a few precious moments with the postmaster or clerk.
Our followers will show that same level of dedication and commitment to us if we just show a little kindness. Many have developed a leadership paradigm that has no sense of caring and runs roughshod over our follower’s feelings and emotions. Don’t be that leader. Be the one that folks will stand in line to have even the briefest of exchanges with you.