Leadership Fluidity

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

I am on a family vacation in Montreal, Canada. We are staying in a quaint hotel in the old port. The sun is just beginning to peek above the horizon as a fiery red orb. I am wide awake and ready to write. Being in different surroundings is always creatively stimulating for me. Dawn is an enchanting time—it is still and quiet with only a few people on the cobblestone streets. Dawn is alive with purpose and promise.

The rustic stone and wood-paneled restaurant is not open to customers yet, but I’ve been allowed to snag a small, wobbly corner table next to the open double doors overlooking the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Only a few staff were present when I first came in, but now it is much busier.  Baked goods fresh from the oven fill the bistro with enticing aromas. Coffee is perking and griddles are sizzling. There is a cacophony of sounds and smells that awaken my senses.  What was previously a still, muted environment has become increasingly bustling as if I’m seeing my surroundings as sped-up time-lapse photography.  I marvel and appreciate the seasoning of the staff and the invisible leadership that created such a synergistic team.

I’m struck by not only the friendliness of the staff and the beauty of French being spoken, but also the fluidity with which they go about preparing for the customers. There is noChefs in Motion (capital “L”) leader present, but this quaint bistro is filled with (small “l”) leaders. At R|L, we believe that regardless of role or level, every person has the potential to be a leader, if they are allowed to be, by astute managers. There is no one barking orders or commands. The entire staff is cheery and affirming towards each other. As an observer, it’s clear to me that trust is very much in evidence as each person impeccably does his/her part in running the bistro in this 5-star hotel. Umbrellas are raised. Glasses and place settings are positioned perfectly on the tables. Everyone is functioning efficiently, effectively, and enthusiastically. The joie de vivre vibe is alive and well in this place . . . and customers love it! been

I wonder – what could our respective organizations become if every one of us operated as accountable and fluid, as this bistro staff?

How might you model, educate, and influence your staff and others to operate with more accountability and joy (two dimensions that are rarely mentioned in business settings)?


This Post Has One Comment

  1. greg french

    What a great ending question! That clockworks coordination caused by the “l” in all the workers at the restaurant is most likely driven by a common sense of what the restaurant stands for. An impeccable customer experience standard such as this can often be driven by a strong sense of brand.

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