The other day I was walking into our building and noticed something quite odd-extraordinary in fact. Near the shipping dock I spotted a U Haul rental truck, which was unusual because all our shipments and deliveries come by common carrier.
Even more curious was a group of our employees unloading pallets from the U Haul. These were not the usual shipping department employees whom I would expect to see there. Rather, they were a group of employees from all over the plant, who don’t work in the shipping department, unloading a U Haul truck that shouldn’t be there.
Curiosity finally got the best of me, so I went into the area to ask what was going on. The answer was quite incredible, although not surprising given the culture that we have.
Apparently, a shipment was in danger of being late because of part shortages from our suppliers. So, what did our people do? They scoured the country until they found the needed parts. They negotiated a deal to procure the parts. And then they rented a U Haul to get them.
So, it begs the question, “who told them to do that?” The answer is nobody. Another question could be “who gave them the authority to do that?” The answer again is nobody.
Bear in mind, these employees are not executives. They are not managers. They are something more important than that. People who care. People who are empowered. People who routinely do whatever it takes to get the job done.
I am often asked how my team does what it does so well. My answer is always the same. I have no earthly idea. My job, and your job as a leader is not to be the be-all, know-it-all.
Rather, your job as a leader is to create an environment that encourages and enables people to act without permission and without authority. If you do that, you will be amazed at the results.