The MD and the Mop
I was privileged to get a fantastic lesson in leadership recently, and I thought I must share that with you.
I was in a meeting with the Managing Director of a company and with him, was his head of Learning & Development. We sat down around a table in their guest house – a little round table where you could have a discussion. Just as we got started, I realised that the Managing Director had got up and gone into the kitchen, and had come back in a jiffy with a mop in his hand. He then went on to wipe the table clean. And as he saw the look of surprise on our faces, he said that when he put his diary on the table, he figured there was dust there! And he just decided to clean it.
Now, I thought to myself, this is such a rare sight! When was the last time you saw the Managing Director of a company actually take a mop out and clean a table – in front of a group of other people?
Think about it. He could have easily done something else. He could have called out to the attendant, who at that stage was busy making some tea and coffee for us, and said, “Come I want you to clean the table right now!” Or he could’ve screamed and shouted at him for not having maintained a clean table. Or he could’ve complained about the world we live in and said, “Look, there’s so much dust around us!”. He didn’t do any of that. He was a man who had seen a problem (which none of us actually noticed) and then he decided, ‘Hey, let me do something about it!’. He went out, got a mop and cleaned the table. That’s just the kind of leadership that’s becoming so rare to find in our world today. But, it’s also just the kind of leadership that we all need to see more of.
Maybe you and I need to do this too. The next time you see a problem, you see that dust on the table which nobody else has noticed, don’t just leave it there. Don’t scream and shout and ask someone to set it right. Maybe all you need to do is get up, find a mop and clean it! You’ll have a clean table, sure. Hey, you’ll also become a role model for what great leadership looks like!
Just like this MD.