Jill and I took the kids to Chicago in early January for one last family trip before school started back up. We saw a Blackhawks hockey game, visited the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum. We even went to the top of Willis Tower (formerly called the Sear’s Tower). At the top of Willis Tower, they have a Skydeck, 104 floors high, with incredible 360-degree views of the windy city. It was there that I saw more “selfie sticks” than I had in my lifetime.
Selfie sticks. You know those long obnoxious poles that are attached to smartphones. Ok, I know I just offended some of my readership base. I’m sorry. I’m sure there are a few humble men and women who own a selfie stick. But here’s my guess: if you prance around town posting selfies of yourself… chances are that you also prance around your place of work saying, “Look at me. Look at me!”
If you polled the thousands of employees that work for a boss who owns a selfie stick – I would bet my last paycheck that there is a direct correlation between self-serving bosses owning a selfie stick versus servant leader bosses not owning a selfie stick – or not even knowing what a selfie stick is. I have absolutely no data or research to back this point up. Just a gut theory!
I wrote a chapter in the Heart-Led Leader called, What’s Hanging on your Walls? It is one of my favorite chapters in that book. I told a story of a life lesson I learned from former Olympic and New York City marathon champion, Rod Dixon. When I visited his home in New Zealand twenty years ago, I noticed that Mr. Dixon didn’t have any of his Olympic medals or running awards or photos of himself hung anywhere. Nowhere to be seen. Not in his home. Not in his office. When I asked Rod where he hung all his Olympic medals and awards, his answer changed the way I look at leadership. “I keep all my medals and awards in a shoebox, collecting dust, in my attic.” When I pressed him and asked why, Mr. Dixon responded, “I’m not going to be measured by my awards, medals and trophies. I’m going to be measured by the people that I love and serve.”
Two decades later, I’ve never forgotten that important lesson on humility.
I’ve visited hundreds, if not a thousand corner offices throughout my career. I’ve come to learn that there are two kinds of leaders who office from those corner offices – those who look outside their office windows admiring their views, and those who look outside their office door admiring the people that choose to follow them.
The last company where I was CEO, the previous chief executive transformed the large conference room into his personal office. The CEO before that one transformed the office gallery into his personal office suite. I guess they needed more space to lead! When I became CEO, we fit six work stations, an entire department, into that same office space.
Whether you own a selfie stick, hang all your awards and medals on your walls or stare out the window admiring your corner office view, we are all sometimes guilty of shouting, “Look at me!” We all need to take a lesson from my friend Rod Dixon – let’s live our lives not being measured by our awards, medals and trophies. Instead, let’s aim to be measured by the people that we love and serve.