I’ve sometimes wondered what everyday leadership LOOKS like… not just in theory, but in action. Would I even recognize it if it happened right in front of me? It’s easy to spot the sparkplug on a sports team, or the up and coming executive candidate, but there must be examples woven into our daily lives. These are the highlights that we should all learn from, simply because they are mundane or reflexive or “little things”.
This lesson includes seniors but is not about seniors. It takes place at a funeral but is not about the funeral. I mention these factors because they distract us from seeing the reality of the event, which is actually the little thing that happened.
I was once asked to speak at the funeral of an elderly relative. She was a wonderful, strong, kind and gracious woman and it was an honour to be asked. I prepared thoughtful and heartfelt words. The funeral took place in the chapel of a local funeral home. The flowers were nice and the pictures too. Many people came to say their goodbyes and support the family, but the chapel was not quite full.
I had chosen a seat close to the edge in order to disturb the fewest number of people as I got up and sat down. When it was my turn to speak, I squeezed my wife’s hand and stepped to the microphone.
Halfway through the eulogy, my wife started to cry. I noticed immediately that my carefully chosen seat, now vacated as I gave my speech, had left her isolated from the rest of the group. Crying. Alone. At a funeral.
And then I saw something amazing. One of her uncles – arthritis, cane and all – had also noticed my wife’s plight and decided to do something about it. He was excusing himself through the seats. It took him a long time to get to her. And then he sat down in my chair, put his arm around her and gave her a kleenex. And that was it.
Now, think about the situation: there are unwritten rules at funerals. You don’t get up and walk around. It’s supposed to be a solemn event where you try not to disturb your neighbours.
He didn’t care. He recognized that my wife, a grown woman, needed something at that very moment.
I never spoke to him about it. I’m sure he never even thought about it as leadership. For me, that’s the most important takeaway. Just a little old man offering a tissue and a hug to my wife.
Image Credit: Originally posted by The Daily Quotes