There’s a story I heard about a man who was arriving for an interview. He was well dressed and came prepared with a briefcase full of references and work samples. As he arrived, there was a gentleman in the front office sweeping around the receptionist. With an audible sigh of annoyance, he stepped around the gentleman sweeping and announced his interview and employment intentions. Upon hearing his declaration, the man finished sweeping and stepped around behind the desk. He put down the broom and grabbed his jacket. He introduced himself as the CEO and with whom the interview would be taking place. He also added that in his company, everyone sweeps. “No job is too ‘low level’ or unimportant for anyone to help with,” he shared. “The basics still matter, and you’ll always be expected to help regardless of how high up you rise or how fancy you think you are.”
(Thanks to Google, I also know that this is a philosophy that Apple shares with its new employees.)
What a powerful illustration of leadership that presents.
Are you one of the ones holding the holding the broom? Regardless of title, role, or experience, I hope to create an environment where we all act with humility and an understanding of what it looks like to wield the broom. The things that I make a priority are the ones magnified by what our campus reflects. The same is true for a teacher in a classroom. If transparency and academic integrity are what you model, that is the tone you’re going to set for your students.
What does that look like?
- I’m present. What can I do? What needs to be done? Whether it’s lunchtime or field day…I am out, about, and looking for a way I can contribute. Typically, things are flowing along right nicely but what is lost by handing out waters to volunteers? Running a race with a student? Squirting hot Wolves with a water gun? Nothing. I’m there. If I have teachers and volunteers in my building standing out in the sun, I’m out there too.
- I prioritize. The power of modeling is well documented for its impact in the classroom, but the same is true in leadership. I don’t shut my door (unless in a confidential conversation) because I want my people to know that they are my priority. Tasks and to do’s can be taken care of the bulk of the time when my building isn’t full of teachers and students. Does that mean I have to prioritize and be intentionally focused? Yes. But that is the message I want to send. Do I share crazy cat memes throughout the day? No. I share #wearewhitt shout outs & celebrations. I am out front every morning, especially in the rain. I welcome students and families with a smile and a welcome. At dismissal, I am there to wave bye and encourage to come back tomorrow. If I don’t view these times and interactions as important, what am I modeling for my team??? When it’s raining, I’m wet and out there with them, opening doors and splashing in puddles. I’m the first one out, and the last one in.
- I provide. Feedback. Snacks. Optimism. Knowledge. Experience. Ideas. If I know my people…I should also know the best way to fill their bucket. I provide opportunities for them to grow, to vent, to feel heard. I provide what they need to get from their point A to their point B.
- I’m positive. Our jobs are hard ya’ll. There is no shortness of reasons to feel overwhelmed. My to-do list is never complete and I can’t quite seem to fit #allthethings in and still sleep 10 hours a night, 🙂 There are plenty of reasons we could all be negative at any given point in the day, but that is definitely not holding the broom. That’s taking the easy way out, kinda like letting someone else sweep…but that is not how I want to lead or be viewed. Whether it’s a thank you note, a hug, or a funny joke shared…making positive encouraging connections are an incredibly important part of our role. Does that mean we can’t acknowledge the hard? Of course not, it just means we don’t stay mired in that “little while” place.
Grabbing the metaphoric broom is modeling humility and transparency in a leadership role…and I’m thankful to have walked beside some who showed me what that looked like. It’s now my responsibility in my role to do the same for those who may be watching.
I can’t imagine leading from behind a desk or a closed door. It’s not how I want to encourage or grow other leaders…and it’s not how I want my Wolves to remember me, big or small.
How do you sweep in your position?