Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Visible Leadership - The Principal Lesson

My last post on visible leadership must have hit a cord as I received a number of phone calls and emails on the subject. I always love it when I hit on a subject that my readers feel passionate enough to want to dialogue about. So thank you for those of you who reached out to connect on the subject. We certainly had some great conversations and I hope you will keep em coming.

I wanted to share with you another example of visible leadership that has just stuck with me since yesterday.

I needed to work on a project that needs some severe tweaking and decided to head home for the day to put a little time in on it before both of my boys got home from school and my time would not be my own. My oldest son Zachary's school is in walking distance of our home and one of the main roads that leads into our particular subdivision is usually tended to by one of the mother's who is our dutiful crossing guard. As I reached the intersection I noticed a nicely dressed man standing guard over the crosswalk and I automatically assumed our regular crossing guard mother must be sick or busy and one of the dads was chipping in to help out.

As I crept closer to the crosswalk I slowed down and stopped as I saw out substitute crossing guard was attempting to herd a group of kids safely across. The man smiled big and waved as he entered the crosswalk and as each kid passed by he appeared to say something to each of them and offered a pat or two on the head. As the little guys and gals reached the other side of the crosswalk they all had smiles as big as Texas on their faces; not doubt a result of the positive attention they had just been given.

As the man turned and waved in appreciation again for my stopping, I noticed it wasn't some nicely dressed father being the substitute crossing guard for the day...no it was Mr. Ryan, the principal of my son's school Brushy Creek Elementary. I couldn't help it but my immediate thought was why is our school's principal doing having to do crossing guard duty? A man of his position is far too important and must have other important things to do than to do this.

Then it hit me....visible leadership!

When I reached the house I told my wife Kathy about what I had just seen and experienced. She said, "Oh Mr. Ryan does that from time to time. Our other Principal never did it but Mr. Ryan sure doesn't seem to mind helping out when and where he is needed." How cool is that? More importantly, what another fine example of visible leadership!

Visible leadership as I mentioned in my last post is the willingness to do those things that you ask others to do. I am not quite sure if the kids understand or appreciate the lesson Mr. Ryan is teaching them but Zachary now does. Everyone chips in where they are needed and Mr. Ryan's willingness to come down several blocks from the school to "pitch in" says a lot about him as a leader and steward of our children. I told Zachary he needs to appreciate how amazingly cool it is that his principal is willing to go wherever he is needed to insure that his students are able to get home safe and sound.

Mr. Ryan has shown me yet another fine example of visible leadership and how the little things actually make a big difference when it comes to being the kind of leader people want to follow and emulate. Great job Mr. Ryan!!!

So what crosswalks need tending to at your company today?

Ripple On!!!


PRINCE RAHMAN, msole said...

A great example!!
Also just goes to show it's never to early to instill such examples in the hearts/minds of young people, as well as in colleagues.

Tom Magness said...


That certainly resonates with me and is how I have been taught leaders should function. We must get out from behind our desks and meet people (and students...and customers) where they are.

In the military that means to get out of the headquarters and talk to soldiers down in the motorpool, in the mess hall, in their barracks, and out in the field. They can see right through us if we do not. Kudos to your principal! Hooah!