Dave is a janitor in a large school district in Southern California. He’s an amazing man. He met me at the high school auditorium and asked if I needed any help. I travel all over the U.S. teaching about leadership, public speaking and team building. I’m usually setting up in a hotel conference room, a corporate meeting room or within a company office. Often, I get asked if I need help. Usually half-hearted and said with a clear hope that my response will be a no.
When Dave asked if I needed help I answered positively then added an ‘if you’re serious’ caveat for him. His response was amazing. He let me know I was in his house and he would do whatever it took for me to have a good experience. He was not only serious he was insistent. Soon he and three of his workers were helping me. My work went much easier and faster. I thanked him several times before he got started, in progress, and upon completion.
Afterwards, he let me know how important the school is to him. But then he added the phrase, “But I’m just a janitor.” and smiled. No. Dave is a magnificent leader. He tackled his job with pride and joy. He was very proud of his school and his work there. I mentioned how well-groomed the schooled was; neat, clean, in very good repair. It was very attractive and comfortable. Dave said it’s his home while he is at work. He loves being able to share it with the kids who attend there. After all, they live there too, they’re family. What an attitude!
Dave takes joy in his work. As we moved tables, stacked chairs, rearranged the room, unboxed bicycles, and prepared for the team building event; he never grumbled or complained. Dave smiled and joked and enjoyed our work. His helpers respected and enjoyed working with him. They gave extra because of their relationship and admiration for him.
Dave said he was just a janitor, but Dave is an excellent leader. His quiet pride and joy impact all those who work for him and anyone who observes him in action. I told him he may be at the bottom of the pyramid, but he is an important foundation. Without him my event would have been more work and stress for me. The appearance of the building and facilities showed that there were people who cared. I mentioned to the Superintendant and two administrators what a huge difference Dave had made. I told them Dave was a great help and inspiration to me. I hope they are thankful for Dave.
Leadership isn’t a level attained. It’s the demonstration of great character – whatever ‘level’ you are on. That demonstration makes you top-notch – regardless.
Points to Ponder –
What is your ‘joy level’ at work? Think about how your joy level affects the people around you.
Consider two people you know, one who loves their job and one who complains. Which one would you rather work with? Which one would you rather work for? How do you rate as to how people would view you?