chowline.jpg“Stewardship Leadership.” “Servant Leadership.”

These terms speak of leadership as a trust, a fiduciary responsibility. At its highest meaning, leadership carries a sense of duty, a deep and abiding obligation to one’s followers.

My company has a regional headquarters where the accounting department and regional property managers have offices, as well as our investment, finance, acquisition/disposition, development, and asset management Team Members. The downside of “Regional” is that we are a bit removed from the energy, excitement, and reality of the field. However, we do get to concentrate a bit more on Quad 2 (the important but not urgent), versus Quad 1 (the urgent and important) that dominates in the field.

BUT (Behold the Underlying Truth), the ONLY reason Regional exists is to SUPPORT the field. If Regional is not making the field’s job easier——helping property TMs be effective and more efficient——then we are not doing our jobs. In turn, the field exists to support our Customers. Without Customers, none of us have jobs, paychecks, meals, or wheels.

Years ago I read a book by a former senior member of Donald Trump’s organization, a man who I believe was in charge of operating Trump’s Atlantic City casinos. My take on the book was that the guy thought Trump was a bit of a blowhard, a man who may have understood finance but certainly had no idea how to run an organization and no idea of the nuts and bolts of his casinos’ operations. Specifically, the author writes of a time when a casino was going full blast——had a full house, operations were stretched to the max, personnel was tight——and Donald showed up demanding to be courted, served, and catered to, requiring that staff resources be pulled from serving his Customers at a time of peak operational stress.

That negative image of an insensitive owner not in alignment with the needs of his Customers, of not supporting his organization in serving his Customers, and the message that sends to his employees, has stayed with me. I have always resolved to be aligned with our mission of Customer Service, to walk my talk.

I recently read a book called “One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer” (discussed also in post “Always Present Options”). The author, a junior officer in the United States Marines, relates a time during the first days of an overseas deployment. He saw a long line at the mess tent and a few NCOs at the end of the line occasionally turning people away. It turns out that the field kitchen’s resources were stretched thin and there was only enough hot food (vs. K-rations) for a third of the men. In the best tradition of the Corps, only the most junior in rank were being allowed in line. Not the first to arrive, not those with the seniority to pull rank. No, it was the grunts, the privates, who got the hot meal.

Guiding principle of leadership? “Officers eat last.” Take care of your people and they will take care of you.

Closing Quotes:

The price of greatness is responsibility. – Winston Churchill

Good leaders must first become good servants. – Robert Greenleaf, 1904-1990. Subject of the biography, ”A Life of Servant Leadership”

One of the hardest tasks of leadership is understanding that you are not what you are, but what you’re perceived to be by others. – Edward L. Flom, CEO of the Florida Steel Corporation