Preamble: Part of my management style (*most important part – always do what Sal says) recognizes that people are generally followers.  Especially employees. Leaders cannot lead except by example and the choice to follow or not is made by the people themselves – NOT by the so-called leader-in-gold-braid. If you want to be a leader then initiate something and then get that something done. Someone may help and thus become a follower. They may not.  Either way, you got something done.

And we had to practice what we preach when we were building.  Even tho we had no followers except each other!!  Thank God for our last ten years! Hands-on constructing helps keep it real.

I remember working in offices downtown.  They weren’t quite real.  I wore a suit, a tie, shiny shoes and carried a cell and a briefcase and considered it ‘work’.  And it was in a weird kind of way.  Mental work.

But, if there were a dozen cardboard boxes that needed to go to storage, they just sat in the hallway until ‘someone’ came to get them. Maybe a ‘mover’ had to be called. The truth is just about every office I ever worked in had strong healthy adults working there, too. Some of them fitness buffs.  But no one would move the boxes.

Moving boxes to storage was somehow ‘beneath’ their station.

I am consulting with a firm right now for a short period.  Very short. A bit of a re-org. Change: how to get things done (they seem to be a bit slow to take action).  Been there a week.  “So, I’ve known you guys for over thirty years and the plants in the office are exactly as I remember them.  Are they real?”

“Yes.  And I hate them.  OMYGAWD I hate those plants.  Always half-dead, always the same.  Aaaaarghhh!”

“So, why not chuck ’em?”

“I have given up asking for that to happen.  Been asking for years.  It never gets done!”

“But you want them out?”


So, with that, I went to the closet to fetch the little trolley I knew was there, came in and wordlessly loaded the two half-dead plants and trundled them to the elevator.  I took the elevator to the basement and re-orged those corn plants into the dumpster.  Yes, I was dressed-for-success but my tie did not get in the way.  The plants were light enough.  I did not get dirty.  Ten minutes. Done!

When I came back the office was abuzz.  People I hadn’t seen were vacuuming up the shucked and fallen leaves.  Furniture was being rearranged.  My guy had a smile on his face. Someone brought me tea.  A secretary volunteered to get new plants for the office first thing next week.

“So, I said, now how about those twenty cardboard boxes at the other office that have been sitting in the hallway for six months.  Gonna get ’em done?”

The guy looked at me.  And smiled.  “Let’s go get ’em together. They have REALLY been bugging me!  Let’s go now.  I’ll get the key to the storage.”  When he went to the guy who had the key and had NOT moved the boxes in the last six months, that guy insisted on joining us.  Three guys in suits and ties went to the other office and in one hour had ‘gotten the ‘job’ done’.

“Today was a good day!”

Consulting, eh?  Who knew?

4 thoughts on “Consulting

  1. Exactly my take on most white collar workers. If they consider a job “beneath them”, they wouldnt touch something under threat of painful death.The road to success is paved with good intentions, unfortunately those good intentions are lost in the endless meetings.
    I used to look after a govt building. A very unpopular division of the govt. Within a week of 9/11 I recieve a call from one of the top managers.
    “There’s a package at reception with no names or addresses on it. It might be a bomb. We want it removed!”
    “Have you called the police?”, I asked.
    “Yes, and they’re swamped with calls just like this. They wont come and my staff are evacuating. You’ve got to come and remove it!”
    Hmmmm, didnt see “Bomb Disposal Expert” on my resume but WTF, I’ll go have a look. The package was just as he described. No markings, about 12x12x12. So I gingerly picked it up and took it down to the garbage bin in the loading bay and gently placed it inside.
    I went for lunch.
    2 hours later I recieve a call from the same manager., “What was in it?”, he demanded.
    I burst out laughing and said,”You thought it was a bomb and you expected me to open it? Sorry, but I dont get paid enough to open petentially explosive packages so I put it in the garbage bin in the loading bay ….unopened.”
    “Well, we want to know what was in it!”, he demanded.
    “I’ve told you where I placed it if you want to go open it. Be my guest. As far as Im concerned I’ve been more than helpful by removing the package so that you staff could resume work.”
    He hung up.
    Several days later I over heard one of the staff laughing that their “photocopier cartridges had been thrown out because the maintenance staff though it was a bomb.’
    A month passed and I recieved a similar call from the same manager. “Call 911. Im not allowed to deal with your security concerns” was my reply. And when they opened THAT mysterious package covered in white powder……..homemade cookies dropped off by a wife of a staff member.
    The majority of people turn their brains off when they arrive to work.


  2. Great blog post. We have had many instances where staff will step over things but not deal with them because it was not their job. A little example and guilt can go along way.


  3. The workplace is very challenging mostly due to conflict over scare resources or who gets what and why. This political capital game is often destructive with its back biting and undermining.


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