Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Everyone Has a Role to Play

In Peter Senge's opening to The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook he tells the following story.  Among the tribes of northern Natal in South Africa the most common greeting is Sawu Bona which translated means "I see you".  The proper response is Sikhona which when translated means "I am here."  The order in which this greeting occurs is important:  Until you see me I do not exist.  It is as if when you see me you bring me into existence.  To people in this culture, ones identity is based on the fact that they are seen....respected and acknowledged as a person.

Everyone has a role to play in organizations....there are no "little guys".    Sometimes our organizational hierarchy and compensation systems lead people to believe some people are more important than others.  Clearly, some people are able to monetize their skill, training and knowledge in positions of responsibility, but that doesn't make them more "important" as people.

Great leaders know everyone has a role to play.  Great leaders "see" those in  low status jobs.  They look them in the eye... the food service workers, administrative staff, the cleaning crew, 3d party contractors... they greet them,  they listen to their concerns, they keep them informed on the purpose and direction of the organization, place priority on their health and safety concerns...and most importantly thank them for their contributions.

Trust is the currency of leadership and the leader generates trust by respect....respect for everyone. 

No comments:

Post a Comment