Short Term Politics vs. Long Term Leadership? Pick A Winner.

I’m sure most of you have heard about the owner of a restaurant asking Someone and her party of eight to leave the restaurant before being served. Someone was asked to leave because of their position in politics. A restaurant owner exercised their right as an American. This blog is not about politics. It’s about leadership, choices and a leader’s responsibility to their team members.

I’ve taught leadership seminars across the country. This statement is in every seminar; “The most wonderful adjective you can use to describe a business is “open”.”

I love seeing successful small businesses that employ 10-100  team members. They are scattered all across the country. I like to say they employ 10-100  families because there are husbands, wives, kids, grandkids and sometimes parents and grandparents impacted by these livelihoods.

I learned years ago that normally the leadership and political paths go two different directions, have different agendas and different outcomes. I would like to throw some different leadership options out for consideration. This cat is out of the bag and the public jury will decide if this bag and cat, or revenue and business are ever reunited.

Option One – What Really Happened – Political or Leadership? You Decide.

A call is placed.

Tail; “Dog, this is Tail. Someone and a party of seven are in our restaurant.”

Dog; “I’ll be right there.”

Dog to Tail; (After arriving.) “Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask Someone to leave.”

Tail; “Yes.”

The Tail wagged the Dog and the Dog wags. The owner asks Someone to leave. Someone leaves and tweets. The public jury begin their deliberations.

Option Two And A Shameless Plug For My Leadership Book – Leadership Only, No Politics

Tail; “Dog, this is Tail. Someone and a party of seven are in our restaurant.”

Dog; “What’s the problem? When Someone walked through the door, she is a customer.

Tail; “Some of the Tail are upset and don’t want to serve them.”

Dog; “I’ll be right there.”

Dog to Tail; (After arriving.) “Let me make this as clear and quick as possible. I opened this business to provide a service, employment opportunities and hopefully make a profit. As I hired team members, I became a leader. I am now responsible for making decisions that impact the long term success of this business and your livelihoods.

No matter how you or I feel, I can not gamble with our livelihoods by allowing an emotional decision to override a leadership decision. I have a decision to make and so do you. My decision is to serve Someone, her party and provide an excellent dining experience. If you choose not to comply, this is America and you have that choice. You are welcome to leave but you no longer have a position here.

I am currently reading “Leading Like You Own It” by Greg Gilbert and since I do own this establishment, I must rely on leadership principles, not politics. The subtitle of the book is “Why We Never Wax A Rental Car.” He talks about short term decisions with long term consequences. I believe the wrong decision here has long term consequences.

I don’t want to lose any of you but I will not jeopardize the entire team for the emotions of a few. I hope you understand. Let’s serve Someone, her party and we can discuss this after hours if necessary.”

Option Three – A strong leadership and customer culture are already in place. The Tail has no idea of the political stance of the Dog.

Tail; “I forgot to tell you. Someone  and a group of others were here last week.”

Dog; “That’s great. I hope they enjoyed their meal and tell others.

Okay, if paying your lodging and car payments depends on your job at this restaurant, which option do you choose? What if your entire 401k is invested in the stock of this restaurant, which option do you hope the owner chooses? If your child was working there and needed the income to help pay her expenses, which option would you favor? Imagine some skin in the game. That’s what leaders do. 

There have been hundreds of comments about Someone suing the restaurant. That is unnecessary. Just as it was unnecessary in the Christian bakery case. Tweet it, put it on social media if you like and go get your cake or meal elsewhere. Let the public jury decide. Owners will see the trends. Keep the government and lawyers out of it. Let supply and demand sort it out. Many leadership decisions are based on future supply and demand.

I’ve been “the Tail” and tried to wag “the Dog” many times. I’m very fortunate to have great parents, leaders and mentors in my life. The great ones are always “for me,” not “against me” or “for themselves.” There have been many times them being “for me” was not immediately apparent to me. Looking back, they fulfilled their role as a parent, leader or mentor and not the role of a friend.

I’m not sure what will happen with the restuarant. The public will decide. I love the freedoms we have in this country. We have so many freedoms of speech and choices but we don’t have freedom from consequences.

I love to see businesses succeed. I love to see them “open.” Many times when businesses fail, they will say, “due to the economy.” I guess this sounds so much better than, “due to poor leadership.”

I’ve seen the sign “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” all my life. I’ve seen it exercised a few times with rowdy or unruly customers but I do know this; When Mr. or Ms. Expense makes the decision to refuse service to Mr. or Ms. Revenue, it better be for a reason the majority of the Revenue family agrees with.

Oh, FYI, the leadership definition of “majority” is closer to 100% than the political definition of 51%. It would also be good to know how many brothers, sisters, cousins and friends belong to that particular Revenue family, because in their mind, you have just refused to serve each one of them.

The owner of the restaurant made their decision. As in most leadership decisions, time will tell the size of this Revenue family and their impact on the Dog and Tail. In life and leadership, we either Win or Learn.

The more candles I get on my cake, I prefer my lessons in the form of a book, blog, seminar, or podcast much more than personal experience. I let others endure the pain, cost and ticking of the clock.

Another thing that would concern me about picking politics over leadership. Leadership traits are always in demand and will normally provide an income. It doesn’t matter if you are running a company, restaurant or in a server or chef position. Leaders rise to the top and normally maintain employment.

On the other hand, playing politics doesn’t pay that well and is normally not sustainable. That’s why you see multimillionaires that have made their money in acting, entertaining, business, or by being born into a certain family playing politics. Normally playing politics does not pay unless you are elected and could reduce your current income. Our country is starving for leaders. Politicians, not so much.

In our mission of increasing Margin between ourselves and average; let’s allow the average to continue with the emotional, short term decisions while we strive for the Unaverage long term decisions.

Greg Gilbert


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