Successful Leaders Clean Toilets

November 15, 2017


Are you willing to do the dirty work? Get on your hands and knees? Humble yourself in front of a crowd of distant on-lookers? I firmly believe that every successful leader has a toilet bowl brush and latex gloves in their tool box and would gladly clean any porcelain circular vase that our bare bottoms rest on.


Not a great visual, but definitely makes my point.


There are countless books, seminars, conferences, podcasts and personality tests to help us determine if we are a natural-born leader or how to increase our skills to become one. Just a quick internet search and you'll find articles that list 5, 10 and even 22 traits of how authors, researchers and focus groups define a good leader. Although I agree with most of the listed traits like communication, passion and positivity, I was surprised to find that "wonkiness" made the cut.  I don't think Mr. Stephen Covey would have used that word in his popular book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." 


I was one of the 25 million people who purchased and read the self-help book and although it's been sitting on my shelf for years, I still find one particular insight to still ring true today. One of the keys Covey noted to being an effective leader is to "seek first to understand and then to be understood."  


LOVE this saying!!!!  


A common leadership trait found on lists is humility in cohorts with authenticity.


Do you like working for a boss that always talks down to you? What about a CEO who acts like they're the king of the world? How would you feel if your employer treated you less than human? Do you think a good leader is selfish and closed-minded? 


The definition of humility is "freedom from pride or arrogance" but I especially love the meaning of humble - "ranking low in a hierarchy or scale." See, you can still be at the top of your game with confidence leading a team to success yet proceed with humility. The key to having others follow in your foot steps or follow-through with given tasks is to meet them where they are at first!!!  


I would rather walk through a fire with someone who can relate with me. I'm more likely to follow someone who is humble enough to admit their faults yet strive to do better, learn from their mistakes and challenge others to do the same.


Be an example. Be the change you want to see in others. 


I believe janitors are unsung heroes. They clean up after everyone else's mess we leave behind (literally . . . what our backside leaves behind) and work in the shadows when many people are at home enjoying dinner with their families. Yet, they are just as important as the person wearing the suit in the large corner office upstairs.  We are all pieces of the success puzzle. Although each role holds different levels of skills and accountability, it all works together. If the janitor slacks off, the office will reflect their irresponsibility and laziness . . . which in turn makes a dirty and unorganized workplace for employees . . . which in turn gives those visiting a bad first impression of the company/service . . . which in turn reflects on the leadership's capability to lead their team to success.


So, before you start leading, take a low rank in your heart and realize that we are all equally created and possess value.


Pull out that toilet brush, put on your gloves and start scrubbing!!!

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