Am I not here and human?

The other day I stopped at my usual coconut water seller to buy some coconut water. Usually there is a young guy, with the kindest of smiles who I talk with. But that day, there was an elderly man sitting instead of him.

I asked ‘Is no one there’? And he promptly responded saying ‘do you think I am not a human, sitting here’?

I tried to clarify that I was merely checking, since I’ve not seen him before.… He responded saying that, even if the regular seller was not there and instead he was, I should have just ordered what I wanted. He went on to tell me that he is not going to sell me the coconut water that day and I should go somewhere else!

It sure got me thinking. He made a valid point! The point being, acknowledging and treating a person as a person.

It is surprising how Leaders so often overlook this fundamental and very elementary attitude, knowingly or unknowingly:

Acknowledging the presence of another person…

Simple things like greeting, smiling and acknowledging an individual somehow seems to be becoming a rarity, leaving people to wonder – Am I not here and a human!

It is my belief and experience that people care for the Leader and the Company much more, if they believe that the Leader and the Company cares for them.

Money in terms of rewards, bonus or team lunches are beyond a point not really showing that you care! I don’t think people look for anything extraordinary or over the top. The need is rather simple and at a more fundamental ‘I Care’ level. Simply acknowledging their presence, verbally or non-verbally sometimes is enough too.

A very senior CIO once told me that he would walk his floors twice a day without fail. It helped him be real every day, and meet face to face with his people. The days he did not walk, people would wonder what happened and reach out. The key for him was that he cared for his team and was always behind them, and in turn the team did the same. He was always there, and as human as he could be!

Now there’s a lesson somewhere in that, isn’t there?