Just Be Cool…

When I was a young man in high school, I had a math teacher named Mr. Sratton. He was an older, light skinned gentleman. Excellent math teacher. I was taking his Geometry course my senior year and he just made learning math so simple. I bet he could have taught a 6 year old calculus. That’s how good he was. Whenever a student would get out of line, his favorite line was “be cool Mr. man”. (or young lady) He never got irate when a student acted bad in his class, at least in the class I was in.  I would classify him as a great leader. Someone who has been around this game called “life” a long time and has a great understanding how to make learning simple. I aced his class because his teaching skills were very unique above all the teachers I’ve ever had in my entire school career.

What this proves to me is that great leadership is a skill that you develop. A “craft” that you learn over time from paying attention to the hits and misses that you make through the months and years. Everyone boasts on having leadership abilities, but do you really understand what leadership is. Leadership, in my opinion, is someone that can command a room. What I mean is that when you literally walk into a room, everyone else has a feeling of comfort and their shoulders start to relax because of your presence. That’s powerful! Now you may notice this at work or you just may have someone that you look to for leadership and they may not even know it.

When I worked at Sears Auto Center, I didn’t recognize that I had that affect. It just never occurred to me. It seemed as if as soon as I arrived at work, everyone was just delighted to see me. Not just because I’m Mr. Brown lol, but because of the fact that my co-workers knew when I was there that I would help them. And I did every time without hesitation. I helped everyone even if you were a new worker. Unless I just didn’t like you. I felt that was my job. To help my co-workers be better productive. What this “formula” did was make my co-workers more money and the end result was the store made more money. I believe that’s a great chain reaction. Now sometimes this could get very annoying. My name would bellow thru the store so much that sometimes I wasn’t able to complete my own assigned task in a timely manner. That was okay with me because I knew that I was doing something greater which was building trust and a great team. But, what pissed me off the most was that management never recognized what I was doing. They just never paid any attention and if they did, it was never communicated to me. This is what I like to call “poor leadership”.

How can you be in charge of team and not recognize the talents of your crew? Well, the answer is obvious, you just not paying attention. There was a lot of non-recognition that occurred at Sears. I believe that is just one of the reasons, amongst a million others, why that company is failing. I believe in about 10 years that company is gonna turn into an online company like Montgomery Wards. And It just wasn’t me who displayed value. I can name about a hundred other people that I worked with over the years of working at Sears who were 100x better than me and they wasn’t appreciated for there talents or even considered a good worker. Unbelievable! In 2013, there are still people who are put over us to lead by example, but can’t recognize a valuable worker when they see it.

It’s disgusting to me. If you are a leadership position, your duty is to recognize each team member for their strengths and weakness. You give them value by considering their input and you use their strengths to make your team stronger. The ultimate goal is to make money. But, these are just a few of the ingredients you need to have a successful team. Mr. Stratton understood that to be great teacher he had to display leadership and that’s why I believe he was so successful showing young people how simple math can be. Now Mr. Stratton passed away several months ago. I wish that I had made the time to go and see him and tell him what an impact he made on me as a student as an adult. I don’t know what kind of co-worker he was, but I believe he must have been pretty good if he was able to teach into his golden years.

So what type of leader are you? Do you consider yourself a leader at all? Do you think you have an impact on people? Well, the next time you go to work, pay close attention. If people have a look of disgust when you walk through the door, then you probably do not qualify as a leader or someone of value. But, if you go to work and your co-workers and managers are glad that you even showed up, then you can count yourself amongst the few as an important person. Your valuable and it shows. What you don’t realize is that you just made everybody’s day much easier. “Just be cool” and continue to do what you do best which is strive for excellence at what you do no matter what job or career field that you are in.