Leadership on Point

Do Your Employees Know How To Handle “The Basics”?

December 10, 2010 Richard Levin

Barrie Greiff and I have been writing our newspaper column, As We Live and Work, for 10 years now.  Hard for us to believe it’s been that long.  Our columns often manage to strike a chord with our readers, but perhaps never as strongly as with our article  (“It Doesn’t Add Up”, 4/2/2010) about the computer failure at a Los Angeles food court.  We’ve done great columns (in our humble opinion) about baseball, the economy, and the fundamentals of leadership – but who would have guessed our food court column would generate one of the biggest responses. Here’s the story: a large-scale computer failure affected all of the food concessions at LAX Airport; when I attempted to purchase a salad, the cashier told me I’d have to wait for the manager to drive in from an hour away “because he’s the only one who knows how to make change”.  At another concession, I was told that I couldn’t order more than one item because “employees can’t add columns of numbers and can’t figure the tax”. When someone nearby offered the use of a calculator, the manager said “I’m not sure that’s going to help because I don’t think the employees know how it works.”

Despite legislation that students must graduate high school with proficiency in basic math, our minimum standards fly out the window when they enter the real world.

In our column, Barrie and I suggested that every high school student should take a course on “the basics of life”:  simple medical knowledge (CPR, first aid, nutrition, exercise), basic home repairs, fundamental automobile maintenance, and basic money management.  Readers practically came out of the woodwork, praising us for saying something everyone knows but never admits: we do a pretty mediocre job training our children on the basics.  What do you think?  When you deal with a service organization, how do the employees handle the basics?


Written by Dr. Richard Levin, President of Richard Levin & Associates. He can be reached at rlevin@richardlevinassociates.com.


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Leading from the Office is for Wimps!

November 5, 2010 Chip Bell - Guest Author

“You can pretend to care, you cannot pretend to be there,” wrote Texas Bix Bender in his book Don’t Squat With Yer Spurs On!

Bender was describing a vital feature of leadership—command presence.  People who spend more than twenty minutes in the military know the power of command presence.   Officer school candidates are drilled on the power and practice of the manner of a leader—focused, attentive, and most important, in attendance. Command presence is not about arms-length control, it is about a live connection.

Davy Crockett had command presence. “David Crockett seemed to be the leading spirit. He was everywhere,” wrote Enrique Esparza, eyewitness to The Alamo in a newspaper article following the legendary siege.  Great leaders are all about spirit…that is, being, not just doing. They focus on being there, everywhere, not in absentia. And, when they are there, they are all there…present and accounted for.


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The Death of Customer Service?

November 2, 2010 Meghan Vincent

Someone once told me, it’s not about not making mistakes … everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that matter.

While this is true in all facets of life, it is especially relevant in business. It is unrealistic to assume that you will never make a mistake or be forced to face a disappointed consumer (or client). Something unexpected will happen – will go wrong – and it is up to you, as a business leader, to respond. If done quickly and appropriately, you can do more than simply salvage your company’s reputation. You could actually improve it immensely.


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