Several years ago, I was standing in front of a group of employees from a large mortgage company conducting a leadership training session. The members of this group had various job titles; however, most were administrative and field managers. As we got to the last row of introductions, a woman quietly and timidly introduced herself as someone who “just runs the mailroom.” She stated this with almost an embarrassed tone of voice. I could see from her body language and demeanor that she felt somewhat “below” others in the group.
To set the stage, I must say that this company processed thousands of pieces of mail weekly. Incoming mail was mortgage applications, and outgoing mail was time-sensitive approvals, title searches, and the vast amounts of other documents that pertain to a home purchase. Needless to say, without proper handling of the mail, the company (and the thousands of customers) would severely suffer.
I paused for a moment and asked this woman to explain her job functions. She went on to state how important her job was: how she managed three others in the mailroom, was currently developing new methods of sorting the mail which would increase turnaround time, was evaluating new equipment purchases which would improve production, and reviewed the many teams she served on in the organization.
As she talked, I could see that she was beginning to realize just how important her job function was. A smile slowly came over her face, confidence started to rush in, and she sat up proudly as she reviewed her responsibilities and contributions. Others in the room also realized that without her effectively doing her job, they would have a hard time doing their job.
We sometimes fail to realize that we are all interconnected in an organization. It is like the links in a chain. The success of one person is critically determined by the success of others. The term leadership does not only refer to those who sit in corner offices, earn the most bonuses, or make the final decisions of vastly important initiatives. Leadership transcends to all levels of the organization. Everyone in an organization brings value to the overall leadership and success of that organization.
What would sales be without marketing? What would operations be without sales? What would finance be without administration? What would the company be without IT? What would all departments be without housekeeping? Where would the mortgage banks be without the mailroom? Where would the company’s reputation be without the receptionist (or sometimes called the Department of “First Impressions”)? And so on—you get the picture!
More than likely, you are surrounded by those who hold a variety of positions in an organization. As a leader, confront those individuals in positions that may seem unimportant—but are immensely important. Take the time to thank them and show appreciation for their hard work and dedication for what they do every day to support the efforts of everyone in the organization.
Your success is reliant on their success–and vice versa. We serve each other in an organization. The CEO serves the housekeeping staff as much as the housekeeping staff serves the CEO! To forget this basic human concept is to discard all rules associated with effective and successful leadership.
Finally, if you are one of those individuals in an organization that can personally relate to the woman I spoke about at the beginning of this blog, then sit up in that chair, gain the confidence you deserve, and know that what you do matters. You are a leader in the organization, and your presence and work are valued. What you do is part of the overall organizational strategy, and others rely on your success—as you do theirs.
Nobody in an organization “just” runs the mailroom. They manage a process that supports the overall efforts and strategies of the entire organization to maintain customer satisfaction, revenues, and organizational growth. There is nothing unimportant about that at all!