I heard a story recently from a family member who drives a school bus.
The leadership implications of this story have stuck with me for days.
His daily bus route ends at one of the local high schools. Typically, the bus empties each morning without much fanfare. Students leave the bus ready to get on with their day focused on assignments, deadlines and social activities.
One morning, however, he noticed a group of students gathering on the sidewalk where the bus drops off.
They weren’t students he recognized. He hadn’t seen their particular behavior before. They weren’t causing trouble or disrupting the flow of the morning. They were simply greeting their fellow students as they arrived for the day.
The driver smiled to himself, heartened to see this kind gesture, and went on with his own day.
Well, the next day he dropped off his riders and the same group of students was there again – greeting, welcoming their fellow students to school.
This went on for several days, until one day he arrived to see something different.
The students were still their greeting their peers, but this time they had coffee and biscuits to hand out.
It wasn’t a big deal. Not a production or a formal activity. It was just a group of students who decided to be generous with their time and money.
They even brought coffee for the bus driver.
They already had his attention, but this new addition of breakfast propelled him to find out more information. Who were these kids, and why were they doing what they were doing?
He quickly learned that this new welcoming committee is the school’s baseball team, and the next morning he asked them to explain.
Their answer was simple.
We wanted to do something different. There’s so much disagreement and disunity and we just wanted to find a new way to live together.
Simple, yet so profound.
There are probably many lessons to be learned from this simple act of kindness, but three stood out to me in particular.
- Your problems at work or on your team don’t always need a new initiative or strategic focus to solve them. Maybe all you need is a new way to live and work together. Maybe you need kindness.
- This was a demonstration of thinking about others rather than just themselves. The servant part of servant leadership shouldn’t be an option, it should be the expectation. To be a leader worth following is to serve the follower, and serving demonstrates care. Caring about those we lead should be the absolute priority.
- It may not be obvious that you need to find a new way. Your team may be exceeding expectations and bringing in significant results, but is that coming at the expense of serving one another? Are you forgoing kindness and servant-heartedness in favor of short-term gain?
It’s worth taking a few minutes to pause and reflect. Is serving an expectation of your leadership or simply an added bonus?
Does your team need to find a different way?
Written by: Stephanie Brown, Operations Manager – Milestone Leadership