I rushed into the breakroom between meetings to grab a quick cup of coffee, but much to my disappointment the carafe was totally empty. I took a quick glance at the Keurig sitting on the counter and contemplated making a single cup, but the thought was fleeting. I knew that in a matter of minutes someone else would do the same thing I was doing—stop by the breakroom in between commitments to refuel their tank and refresh their cup. No, I’d pass on the quick fix, and I’d wait the five minutes it would take to make a fresh pot. In the process, I’d help someone else avoid this small pause in their day.
This isn’t a true story. It’s more of a parable. Because I observed someone do the exact opposite—drain the pot of the last cup of joe and leave it empty for the next person to find, which was me.
Now, I will happily tell you this was not a HORNE team member, but a guest working in our office. And perhaps it was their lack of knowledge on how to make coffee that kept them from doing so (although I sincerely doubt it), but the awareness stuck with me. You see, leaders make the coffee. They also pick up trash (a nod to my recent time at the Disney Institute) and put paper in the printer.
I’ve learned a lot as I’ve lead teams and as I’ve served on teams with great leaders. So when someone asks me what makes a great leader, I have many excellent examples and experiences to draw from. However, at the foundation of leadership, is a willingness to serve. A willingness to lead by example and to guide without believing anything is beneath you. True, there are certainly principles of delegation and growing others through intentional shifting of roles, but at the foundation—a leader serves. If you’re wondering how you lead a team or project, maybe ask this question: would you make the coffee?
About the Author
Kassi Rushing, APR, is passionate about building the Wise Firm. She dreams daily about the firm we are creating and adamantly believes HORNE is a place where team members can achieve their dreams and reach their Full Potential. You can learn more about our Wise Firm on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at www.wisefirm.com.