Good Leader Lessons
Great leaders are hard to find. Mine is moving on and I’m so proud of her
As I was driving across the Sonoran Desert I noticed the missed call from my boss, Christen. Then I saw the text message…
If you have a free minute today can you give me a call?
I was on vacation and she wouldn’t reach out unless it was important. I got nervous. What could be going on? My mind started to race through all the possibilities. Did someone in my store get covid? Did she need me to come back sooner?
I tried to put the thoughts at the back of my mind until I could call her back. I waited until we hit Yuma, found her phone number, and hit call.
She answered right away and explained that she was leaving the company. She had put in her two weeks. She needed certain benefits for her and her family that our company didn’t provide.
I stood in the middle of the McDonald’s parking lot in 98 degree heat with the sun at my back and my heart sank. I was flooded with so many different emotions at once.
I was so sad that out partnership would come to an end.
I was proud of her for finding the right benefits for her & her family and for putting them first.
I was grateful that I had gotten the chance to work for her for seven years.
We had been through a lot.
She hired me after I left a store with a toxic management team and I was questioning my entire career. During our interview I remembered thinking, I like her. I could work for her. Little did I know how much stability she would provide.
The store she had open was the highest volume store in her district. She had the faith in me to put me there after that store had struggled a bit through past managers. I turned out to be a good fit and she was the right leader for me; a true partnership.
Many of my past District Managers had touted themselves as great partners but when I would ask them for guidance they would tell me to go find the answers myself. It was a good thing I was resourceful because I had to rely on that a lot. Christen picked up the phone whenever I called and seemed to have every answer at her fingertips. She gave information freely and never made me feel stupid about asking her questions.
We went through a full remodel of my store together, working 14 hour overnight shifts in order to get everything finished on time. Our sales exploded after that and she forwarded all of our requests and product needs and got us more payroll. That may not sound like a big deal but most leaders do not follow through. It’s a big deal.
We went through a handful of terrible managers and a few good ones. We fired a guy on the spot for vaping in the shoe stockroom. We implemented adding new positions in my store and then we phased them out. We wrote endless holiday schedules and hired hundreds of seasonal sales associates over the years. We attended many, many company meetings fueled by coffee and kinship.
I showed up every day and worked really hard because I knew she was doing the same. There was no task that she was above doing. She worked in shipment, swept floors, interviewed sales associates and eventually absorbed the District Merchandiser duties when that position was eliminated. I always marveled at how she had enough time in her day to get everything done. She always did, never missing a beat.
In February, I was able to step into the company’s Launch Manager program. I was so proud to represent our district and represent Christen’s leadership. She surprised me by bringing cupcakes with photos of my dog stuck in with toothpicks. Pretty great.
It’s nice to have a boss that is supportive and encouraging. It is next level when that person understands who you are, celebrates it, and has a sense of humor.
I could always feel that she was truly on my side and was doing everything to help me succeed. She made her career about all of us, elevating the entire district. It was not about her, it was about us and we knew it.
Thank you Christen, from the bottom of my heart. Best of luck in your next adventure.
To good leaders — may we know them, may we guide them, may we be them.