“Jolene, can you join me in conference room B?” my boss said as he waited a few steps from my desk. I returned my keyboard from the comfortable position it had taken in my lap, took a deep breath in and rose turning toward him. As we walked down the hall, the sounds of people shuffling in their seats were barely audible over one collector who stood and confidently spoke about the benefits of paying on time. Some people sat back, others stood and even more still seemed intent while speaking with customers.
“Welcome to the team. I’ve already listened to a few of your calls and I can tell you’re going to do well here and you’re going to make a lot of money,” he said as I sat down and started to relax. Suddenly I felt at ease as I noticed his smile was genuine.
During the 3 years I worked for Paul, I discovered three core values that were the foundation that I would later stand on through some of the toughest challenges I would face in both my personal and professional life. Those values were care, perseverance and creativity. Today I want to talk to you about care.
Paul was the first manager I had ever worked for that inspired me to want to go to work every day. He was truly a good coach who made me feel like I could be honest about my career aspirations despite the fact that they were contrary to the position I held at the company. He was truly a leader because working for him felt less like work and more like a team environment that I wanted to be part of.
Almost 10 years have passed and I still think about how much I learned working for Paul. He taught me how to win but more importantly, he taught me that it was ok to lose once and a while so long as you took the loss on the chin and learned from it.
As I think back to all of the mentors I’ve had over the years, he stands out because he was the first person to demonstrate caring at work. Other managers might have discouraged me from pursuing things I was passionate about because they didn’t align with company objectives but Paul didn’t do that. He got to know me on a personal level: he cared about me as a person.
During my time on Paul’s team, I made a vision board which included moving to AZ and going to law school. During those three years, I worked on myself by working overtime, and reading as much as I could and by the time I was ready to leave, I had won prestigious awards and saved enough money to move to Arizona and pursue my dreams. When I finally made the decision to leave, I felt truly supported in that decision and Paul – well he made a friend for life.
Caring about people isn’t something you can teach but I believe that most people do it naturally when they take the time to understand someone. It’s impossible to know someone and not to care for them and that’s the beauty of just giving someone a little time.
I’ve had quite a few leadership positions over the years – from management roles even so far back as to President and Chapter Founder of my sorority and the one thing that sticks out in all of that experience is how important it is to slow down and take the time to share a moment with someone.
A moment may lead to something bigger – something you never expected could happen.
To be continued…