Welcome to YOU Make a Difference.  Stories...observations and reflection on our Leadership Journey!

We Don’t Leave Anyone Behind!

We Don’t Leave Anyone Behind!

“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten” – Lilo & Stitch

Have you ever been intentionally or unintentionally left behind? You know…that moment when you realize the people you were traveling with….working with…expected to meet you somewhere …didn’t show up or weren’t where you thought they would be? I believe ALL of us have at least one story and the reason we can recall it so easily is because of how it made us feel so it left a lasting impression.

As the story goes….

I was working for a start-up airline called CanJet. We were a very small IT team so I was responsible for everything from trouble shooting PCs and Servers to implementing the airline reservation system. As part of getting things up and running we had to fly to the United States for training. The guy I happened to be traveling with had been in the airline industry for a lifetime and had worked for most every airline out there. In fact I think he had retired from most of them only to start a new career with the next one…including this stint at CanJet.

It was the January time frame and we had flown from Halifax, Canada to Salt Lake City Utah for the week. As we made our way home on a Friday…my head spinning from all we had learned… we ran into winter storms as we landed in Boston. As we made our way to the gate we could see that our flight had been delayed and looked very likely that it would be cancelled (which it was). 

Figuring we would hunker down and head to the restaurant for a bite to eat as we awaited further instruction…my co-worker said he was going to check around with another airline to see if there was a chance to catch another flight out before the storm got too bad. So I settled in to wait and see what he could come up with. So I sat…and I waited…and I waited…and eventually got an email from him saying…

”I was lucky enough to get on a flight using my passes from another airline so I will see you back at the office next week. Safe travels home”.

He left me behind...in the airport where I slept for a couple of nights trying to fly standby home. I was early in my career so I had NO status and certainly no passes or pull with the airlines. 

I thought a lot about his actions that day and several things came to mind…

  • He was the ranking manager and was with me to show me the ropes. Even if he had passes and a way to get home – he should have used his pull and influence to take me with him

  • IF he was unable to get me a pass and on his flight….he should have decided to stick it out with me knowing he had a better chance of helping me get home than leaving me on my own.

  • Even if I was capable of navigating on my own…which I was…when you are a team you look out for one another and have each other’s back.

So…since that day I have made it my mantra…just like the saying the in military….

”Leave no Man Behind”

This applies in big ways and in small ways and I know I am more sensitive to it than others but I feel it is important to who I am as a leader…a teammate…a friend…a person…to pay attention in those circumstances.

Things like…

  • If you are traveling as a group and someone is running late…you don’t let the taxi…car or shuttle leave without them. You make the car wait or one of you gets off to ensure the other person gets to your destination safely.

  • You are disembarking the plane and you know there are other teammates coming behind you. You wait for them at the top of the jet way to walk out together to ensure they have a ride and are OK.

  • You are meeting people for breakfast or dinner and the table is filling up. You make sure there is a spot for them or you move to another table to be with them.

  • You are working late at the office on a project and the other person has a couple of things to finish up. You either wait with them to walk out together or you convince them to leave with you and finish things up the next day.

It’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch but you get the picture…especially as a leader…these small…yet important acts send a clear message to your team. We also have the same mantra at home and my kids quote the Lilo & Stitch saying all the time. Bottom line is...no matter where you are or who you are...we look out for each other.

Lastly, it does continue to amaze me how many times this comes up and as I reflected with a dear friend and former co-worker recently…

...it’s not that others mean to intentionally or unintentionally hurt us in those moments. It’s that they were not taught by other leaders the importance of this lesson and are focused on themselves.

They are solely looking out for their current needs and genuinely think that you are capable or will be OK if you are left behind or left out. As a leader…teammate…friend and person…we shouldn’t have to put others in those circumstances.

The feeling of knowing someone is looking out for you…feels you are worth waiting for…feels you should be included or not left behind…is someone worth knowing!

Who will YOU be in those moments?

Leadership Questions for YOU:

  • What is YOUR left behind story? How did it make you feel…what do you remember about it and what do you do differently as a result of it?

  • As a leader…how important is it to lead by example and coach your team to not leave anyone behind.

  • Are you someone who doesn’t give this a second thought and leaves others behind regularly? Can you share some perspective on why you feel this way or how you think it plays into your leadership philosophy?

  • Do you draw the line about who you leave behind based on their position in the company or is it anyone (i.e you’d wait for your boss or peer but subordinates or front line employees don't cut it)?

Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!

Please continue the conversation by liking…commenting or sharing this article. You can also follow me on twitter @marciedwhite

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