I was recently reflecting on a conversation I had with the owner of a growing florist business. Sales are good which is wonderful, however, things have become more difficult to manage because of the increased workload. The staff consists of very competent employees yet the owner still has difficulty letting go of some tasks. As a business owner, I understand how hard it is to delegate and rely on others when it comes to the seed you planted that is now blossoming. It’s easy to get “caught in the weeds.” The problem with not letting go is you not only create chaos for yourself, you send the wrong message to your team. When you are hesitant to delegate responsibilities, offer training and coaching, and empower them, you are in essence saying you don’t trust them.
I recently read an article about a generous stand taken by a leader and CEO named, Dan Price. Price is the Founder and CEO of Gravity Payments. When I read the story, I was impressed with his benevolence. However, it was his actions as a leader that peaked my curiosity and prompted me to find out more about him and his leadership style.
If you don’t know the story, Dan Price announced at a staff meeting that over the next three years the minimum annual salary for every employee will be increased to $70,000. It was heartwarming to hear expressions of the positive impact the salary increase will have on the employees. One young man said he and his wife will be able to start a family sooner than they had previously thought and one young woman stated she would be able to fulfill her dream of purchasing a home before she turned 21. As I tend to do when I hear something of interest, I immediately went to Google and searched for Dan Price and Gravity Payments. I wanted to know more about this company, its leader, and ultimately, what it was that drove Mr. Price to make such a generous gesture. After all, it is not likely that he woke up one morning and thought, “I have an idea! I’ll give everybody a raise when I get to work today!” So when I visited the company website I went to their About Us page. Right there, in the middle of the page, I found my answer-a quote from Dan Price.
She wasn’t exactly a woman one would identify as a leader. She was in her 30’s, her front teeth were missing, her clothes were worn, she stood a little over 5 feet tall, she was uneducated and it was rumored she had abandoned her husband in the middle of the night. She took jobs mostly cooking and cleaning. Although she had a strong work ethic, she would disappear in the spring or fall only to return completely broke with no one knowing where she had been.
Does this woman fit your description of a great leader? Would you respect a woman like this if you saw her on the street or if she came to your office for a job? The answer was “yes” for the hundreds of slaves who followed her to freedom out of the South. These people recognized and respected her for her great leadership. This woman’s name was Harriet Tubman.