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oday's New York Times
contains one of the more interesting interviews
with a businessperson that I've read recently. Below I quote the story with which Gary E. McCullough
, CEO of Career Education Corporation
, answers Adam Bryant's opening question, "What's the most important leadership lesson you've learned?" I encourage reading the whole interview because McCullough has much wisdom to share.
The biggest [leadership lesson] I learned, and I learned it early on in my tenure in the Army, is the importance of small gestures. As you become more senior, those small gestures and little things become sometimes more important than the grand ones. Little things like saying “please” and “thank you” just the basic respect that people are due, or sending personal notes. I spend a lot of time sending personal notes. ###
I’ll never forget one of the interactions we had with my commanding general of the division in which I was a platoon leader. We were at Fort Bragg, N.C. We had miserable weather. It was February and not as warm as you would think it would be in North Carolina. It had been raining for about a week, and the commanding general came around to review some of the platoons in the field. He went to one of my vehicle drivers and he asked him what he thought of the exercise we were on. To which the young private said, “Sir, it stinks.” I saw my short career flash before my eyes at that point.
He asked why, and the private said: “There are people who think this is great weather for doing infantry operations. I personally think 75 and partly cloudy is better.”
And so the commanding general said, “What can I do to make it better for you?” And the private said, “Sir, I sure could use a Snickers bar.” So a couple days later we were still moving through some really lousy weather, and a box showed up for the private. And that box was filled with 38 Snickers bars, which is the number of people in my platoon. And there was a handwritten note from the commanding general of our division that said, “I can’t do anything about the weather, but I hope this makes your day a bit brighter, and please share these with your buddies.”
And on that day, at that time, we would’ve followed that general anywhere. It was a very small thing, and he didn’t need to do it, but it impressed upon me that small gestures are hugely important.
Labels: Leadership, Military training, Respect, Rewards and recognition