Many business travelers know this feeling…realizing you just missed your connection by 20 minutes at the end of the night, in the middle of a snowstorm, with no hotels left in the area. leadership
I just rescheduled my connecting flight for an early morning departure. Bummer. After asking the ticket agent if there was a spot for stranded travelers, I was directed to a huge pile of mattresses, blankets, and pillows in a big heap at the end of the concourse. I collected my loot and asked another woman for the “best place to sleep” – she winked and directed me to a quiet little secret hideaway on the concourse balcony. Up the stairs I climbed with my mattress, pillow, blanket, purse, and backpack in hand. Out-of-breath, I chose “my spot” – not one of the fellow straggler-travelers glanced in my direction. In an effort to change the dynamic, I dropped my belongings and immediately began introducing myself to my new roommates. Nearest me were Steve, Hannah, and ticked-off grumpy guy.
In terms of airport-overnight stays, I hit the jackpot! An outlet for my devices, chairs to act as a wall, a mattress (vs. a cot – once upon a time in O’Hare…awful!), and a “trust buddy” in Steve (Steve and I made a pact to watch out for each other on bathroom runs, etc.). Right now, sitting on these two chairs with my feet up, I really couldn’t be too much more comfortable in my own living room – that’s what I’m telling myself anyway. It’s all good. Let’s see what I say in the morning – LOL.
In these situations I love the leadership metaphors that emerge! Here are a few from tonight:
- Trust is a visceral, gut-level, instinctual thing – Standing in line to rebook connections for our 3-4 hour-delayed flight – the young woman behind me, who had barely spoken a word, looked up at me and said “when we get into MN, I live 10 minutes from the airport – you are welcome to stay in the spare bedroom – you can Uber back in the morning to catch your connecting flight.” I laughed, suggesting she was being a bit hasty to invite a stranger into her home, and she responded, “No…I can tell, you’re a good person. You’re welcome to come over if you want.” Unfortunately we lost each other after the flight, but the gesture was not lost on me. Tia, my hero! I so appreciated her trust in me (it was mutual :)).
- How you conduct yourself in a crisis says everything about you as a leader – Need I say more? We’ve all seen the range of behaviors at the airport…
- A common goal or situation can bring people together if rallied. But until rallied, they are just individuals experiencing the same situation.
- People generally don’t trust (or like) grumpy/negative people…or leaders – Everyone steered clear of grumpy guy – I know I felt his bad energy and definitely avoided him. We had this cool vibe going with the other passengers coming together, and he did not fit in. At some point in the middle-of-the-night he disappeared. Our energy speaks louder than our words!
- Unaware people/team members can negatively impact the team. This section of the airport is designated as a “quiet area”. Travelers are attempting to sleep (it is midnight after all) and the influx of unaware late-comers is disruptive and rude at best…loud sarcastic comments (man, this sucks…living the dream!) and lengthy phone conversations (go in the hallway!). Clueless.
- Put yourself out there and do the right thing – AND – Human kindness is our default mode. When I introduced myself and suggested we be “trust/watch-your-stuff-buddies”, the look of relief was palpable…often times, others are “thinking the same thing” but are afraid to speak up. My new buddy Steve, and I, took care of each other…nothing like shared subs, apples, and toothpaste to say “I care.” And again, Tia.
Whether traveling across the country, or traveling into your office…what does your leadership say about you?