by Michael Felberbaum ◊ May 06, 2011
Recently, I received a text message from my neighbor who asked me if I would help him move a piece of furniture. I replied that I would. We settled on 8pm.
When I arrived at his house, he waved me in through the front door and we walked down to the basement where he showed me what we were going to be moving. It was a rusty old table saw, weighing a few hundred pounds. He told me he wanted us to carry it up his driveway to the curb about 300 yards away. As we braced ourselves to start lifting, we discovered that the edges of the table were sharp and they grated on our hands. I had forgotten to bring my work gloves, and he only had one pair.
My neighbor insisted that I take his gloves. Guiltily, I put them on and we got to work. We navigated from the basement around to the front of the house. Out of breath and achy, we finally made it to the end of the driveway; then, I gave my neighbor his work gloves back.
Will Schutz, the author and human potential theorist, once defined a “leader” as a “completer.” In Schutz’s definition, a leader is the kind of person who makes sure a job gets done, no matter how many setbacks and obstacles get in the way. A leader is the kind of person who gives his work gloves to the other person.
No matter how complex or simple the job, when I’ve worked with people whose leadership qualities I admire, they almost always include others and ask for help. They are not afraid to be humble and to ask. And, when they receive aid, they give more than they take. Even if they are lost or frustrated, they have the kind of demeanor that says: “I am committed to this, and we will find a way.” There is something grounded and trustworthy about their resolution.
If you have your own business or you are taking on a new project, I would encourage you to ask yourself who you can offer your work gloves to. Who might be able to help you? How might you let them know their support is appreciated? And, when your work gloves are returned, be sure to enjoy the sense of accomplishment.