Leaders who Touch the Heart leave a Legacy

Think for a moment about the leaders who have influenced your life and why.  For me, it was the president of a large chocolate company who visited its Toronto subsidiary to meet with all the District Managers from across Canada of whom I was one at the time.

What struck a lasting chord with me about this gentleman? Was it his long list of academic credentials? Or, the business conquests that he achieved?  Perhaps it was the revenues he amassed while at the helm?  No.  And in fact he chose not to share his resume with us.  Instead, he began the meeting by taking the time to slowly and considerately shake hands with all 50 of the District Managers in the room, asking each person his or her name and warmly welcoming each one of us individually. WOW! What an introduction to a corporate meeting. Clear evidence of emotional intelligence.

But that was just the beginning.

He then began to tell us a story about his only son, who worked as a waiter in a prominent restaurant in Los Angeles. He did not play up his son’s accomplishments, but simply shared his story.   He shared with us that his son had struggled with finding his niche and that he was trying to become an accomplished chef. Part of the training ground was to work as a waiter. We were all emotionally hooked and felt the president’s vulnerability in sharing this information.

The story continued. One day his son brought one of his  customers a bottle of wine.  After tasting the wine the customer was unhappy and became verbally abusive to the son who did not know how to please the customer. The son became extremely stressed and finally sought the advice of the maître d. The maître d politely and professionally asked the customer what the problem was and the customer bellowed out his concerns that the wine was rancid.  The maître d tasted the wine himself, and calmly explained to the customer in his polite and professional manner the following: “The wine is fine sir, but if you would like another bottle, I would be happy to get that for you”.

The son was confused about how to handle the situation because he believed the mantra that the ‘customer was always right no matter what’.  The maitre’d clarified this concept to him. “The customer is not always  right… however, the customer must always come first.” This comment was the key message the president wanted to convey to his audience of District Managers.  Did he accomplish his mission? Absolutely!  We all wanted to follow this man. Why, because  he touched us emotionally, showed us that he was human, and illustrated how we can all make ourselves and the company better. How? Not with ‘rah, rah’ hypes on achieving sales figures and increasing profits, but by tapping into our emotions.

To  paraphrase  Stephen  Covey…  to  accomplish results we should focus on preserving and enhancing relationships.  This is done by touching people’s hearts. That truly is emotional intelligence.

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Linda Beck
(905) 271-3803
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