Written by: Lorrie Coffey, Horizon Point Consulting
Things don’t always go as planned.
After a great week at SHRM19 in Las Vegas, I planned to be back in the comforts of my own home Wednesday night. But thanks to bad weather and a missed connection, I spent the night at Chicago O’Hare Airport. I was exhausted and just wanted to get home. But what could have been a miserable experience turned out to be an adventure. And as I sit here watching the sun come up over Chicago, waiting for my flight home, I’m reminded of a few leadership lessons.
- Be flexible. Things won’t always go as planned. Be willing, and able, to adjust to unexpected changes. Be willing to consider plan B or plan C, and sometimes Plan D. And don’t be surprised if someone else comes up with a better solution. As I stood in line last night waiting to try to get a flight home, I considered my options, which included flying into Nashville and driving almost two hours back to Huntsville. When I finally got up to the ticket counter, the customer service rep came up with a better solution for me, she switched my airline from United to American and was able to get me on an early morning flight and have me home by 10 AM when every United flight wouldn’t have gotten me home until late afternoon.
- Be patient. Try to look at the situation from other perspectives and understand what those involved are trying to accomplish or are enduring. Due to the bad weather, the line at customer service took me almost two hours to get through. I was tired and not looking forward to a night in the airport, but I knew that it was due to circumstances outside of anyone’s control and the Delta customer service reps were working diligently to help fliers find a way to their destinations. Even though I stood in line for so long, the experience was a positive one and I didn’t mind the long wait. (the free fruit snacks and bottled water helped!)
- Seek out a mentor or partner. Find someone who has been there and done that who you can learn from, or at the least, someone who is in the same boat that you can walk the walk with. Last night while grounded in Milwaukee I met Allison on the plane. She too attended the SHRM Conference and was trying to get back to Huntsville. We decided to stick together through this adventure and that made it much more bearable, and even fun. And since neither of us has ever found ourselves missing our flight and stuck overnight in an airport, it was nice to have someone else to figure it out with.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes you just can’t figure it all out on your own. Others may have information or solutions that you need, you just need to ask. After getting our return flight figured out, walking for what felt like forever to our new terminal gate, and trying to figure out how we were going to get any sleep, we met a very nice housekeeper and asked her how we could get a blanket. She led us to the jackpot! Thanks to her help we found two bags full of fresh blankets and were able to use them to make ourselves “beds” on the floor so that we could get at least a little bit of sleep during the night.
You don’t have to be in a leadership role to practice leadership. How do you practice leadership at work or outside of work?