The tour guide from the twilight zone
Posted on February 12, 2015
Recently I had the opportunity for a guided tour of a facility. Now this was not some top secret bomb shelter, this was just a normal operations center for a specific type of business.
My guide for the tour began their tour with this statement, “today I will be your leader.” They had confidence, poise, excitement, and event a little pep in their step. When you add all of those qualities and then use the word “Leader”, I was ready for my tour with my peppy little leader. You could say that I was one excited follower.
Everything started out great, this person looked around and said “we are here.” When I heard that statement, I decided that this person had a good joking personality, and this tour was going to be informational and also fun. My excitement was building.
We then began to walk down the hallway, where I quickly noticed that the person started reading the name tags on the doors. I heard things like “this is the utility closet” and “this is the kitchen.” After a few of these obvious statements, I decided to ask an important question. I asked my leader “have you given a tour before?” This person just looked at me with a “Duh” look. I then tried to clarify my question. (Communication is the key to leadership) “Have you been on a tour, and is this your first tour of the facility?” The answer to my questions provided me with everything that I needed to know. I was told “well I work here, and I am here every day but giving tours is not my normal responsibility.”
Upon further investigation, I found that this person normally just helped out with administration duties in the office. At this point, I realized that I was not on a guided tour, I was on a safari with Melman, the giraffe from Madagascar. I had just as good a chance to stumble into a restricted area as I did making it out alive.
I started to think about this person and what I would have done if I had received the same responsibility as my tour guide. What if my boss had asked me to go out there and give that same tour. These are a couple of things decided.
Begin with honesty – I would have said something like this. “This is my first tour so if there are any questions, please do not hesitate in asking. I am going to do my best to show you everything you need to see and also provide you with as much information that I can. If there is something that I can not answer, I will get those answers before you leave.”
While confidence and energy are good things to have as a leader, they can not make up for a lack of knowledge. I would have tried to remain energetic and positive while also being transparent.
I would have acted like I had been there before. This is not trying to mislead the person on the tour, but I would have led the tour with the confidence that my boss placed me in the position because he felt that I had all the qualifications to accomplish the task.
Lastly, I would have asked for feedback from the person that I took on the tour. During the tour, I would have tried to build a cordial relationship with the person so that I could find out what I might do in the future to improve my leadership.
The more I thought about this issue, I realized that these are also very important for every leader, regardless if you are a tour guide or not. We as leaders should always begin with honest, act like we have been there before and get feedback from the team.
This week’s experiment is for you to check your leadership style. Check to see if you are following those three key traits. If you are not, this week is a good week to start.