She was wiping off the trash can. Not only did she clean the outside of the trash can, she was actually cleaning the inside lip and edges of the opening where you throw the trash as you walk by the can.
Many companies care about the cleanliness of their environment. But very few take it to the level that you see at one of the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. After all, no one really sees the inside edge of a trash can. And although you may not see it, your hands are very likely to encounter the edges of the openings to the trash cans. And Disney does NOT want your memories and experiences after you leave Disney to be sticky, stinky, and gross. That is why someone wipes down and cleans both the seen and the unseen areas of a trash can.
So, what is the leadership lesson from this observation?
The leadership lesson is that little details matter to Disney. And they should matter to you. As leaders, it is our job to pay attention to all of the little details of our organization.
Leadership is often about vision, strategy, and the ability to see the BIG picture. And those are indeed important skills and abilities. However, do not minimize the value and importance of paying attention to the little details.
Don’t accept the common and often quoted mantra that a leader should not get down into the details. We say that leaders can get “lost in the weeds.” And certainly, leaders can get too deep into the details. But as leaders, we are responsible for the total experience of our followers.