I thought I was a pretty good example of a team oriented leader, with my open -door policy and commitment to advocating for my people in a corporate setting.  And when work was intense, I would try to pitch in and help with any team member’s projects or work.  That’s the spirit of Servant Leadership, right?

Well, I learned a lesson about true teamwork and leadership this Thanksgiving Day weekend…working retail at a popular lifestyle store during one of the busiest times of the year.

Eye-opening.

Revealing.  I watched managers doing the “humble” work, all day long, all weekend. Managers on call for us, on their feet for 8+ hour shifts.

Whatever we needed they were there.  We wore walkies and could summon them at any moment to help with the register, check back-stock for items, do online price searches, answer phones, get boxes for customers purchases, fill in for us during breaks.   To use a cliché… our request was their command.

It was a role reversal.

Many of us have experienced in the corporate or nonprofit world, the luxury of having amazing administrative help or executive assistants to help with the little things, the detail work, the “grunt work”, the tedious work that had to get done behind the scenes.  Always there at our shoulder to make us look good.  This is the role our managers played on the store floor during Black Friday and the rest of the Thanksgiving Day Weekend. 

Their whole function… to be a resource to us. To make our lives easier.

It humbled me.

Our success in meeting our sales goals for the weekend and providing exemplary service was a result of one of the most - high functioning teams I have ever observed.   And it was driven by managers rolling up their sleeves, busting through any traditional hierarchical lines between the boss and staff. 

The true spirit of Teamwork.

The true spirit of Conscientious Leadership.

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