With the news of General Colin Powell’s passing this week, I remember reading in one of his books about the parking attendants in the garage where he parked every day while serving the State Department.
The garage was so crowded that cars were parked almost on top of each other. It took most drivers awhile to have parking attendants retrieve their cars from the Tetris-esque configurations in the garage. Interestingly enough though, General Powell never had to wait for his car. It was always readily accessible, and this was not even guaranteed for The Secretary.
General Powell knew the names of the parking attendants. He smiled at them each morning and asked how things were going. It’s not surprising that they would be especially kind to someone who treated them with kindness. You can read about this here.
One of the essential characteristics for successful leadership is having the emotional intelligence to notice the people around us. Relational leadership makes the difference between connecting with the community and serving in a closed system. And it’s not transactional. General Powell benefitted from his kindness, but my hunch is that he would be kind whether he benefitted or not.
Do we in our communities know the names of those who park our cars, ring up our groceries and pour our coffee? The world certainly benefits when we do.