Little Things Are Big Things

Front-door failure is not an option.
Front-door failure is not an option. (Flickr )

I've just returned from CBA's International Christian Retail Show annual convention. I met many new authors and refreshed a few relationships from seasons past. But I want to tell you about someone I met who reminded me of an important leadership lesson.

I don't know her name and I won't mention the hotel or the name of the restaurant. It's not significant or relevant to the lesson and I have two-by-fours in my own eyes.

The young lady was the morning hostess at a large restaurant in a large hotel. The restaurant had seating for at least 200 guests. I watched the room almost fill two consecutive mornings as I had business breakfasts with clients.

The breakfast buffet was outstanding. The omelet station had four burners cranking out fluffy eggs and cheese. It was truly an unusually large breakfast buffet. The service staff was attentive and competent.

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So the overall experience was, in theory, as good as a breakfast could be.

But one seemingly minor detail served as a metaphor for why good products, services and organizations perform at much lower levels than their potential.

The experience started badly.

On day one, I asked the hostess a question to confirm I was in the right place for my meeting. She didn't know the name of her restaurant and growled at me to ask someone else. I wandered around a bit in an attempt to find the right place. I eventually found someone who cared and, of course, I was sent back to the same wonderful hostess. Let's just say she didn't want to see me again. I don't think she wanted to see anyone at any time.

On day two, my meeting was in the same restaurant. I was early and the service-prevention specialist was at her post and not one bit happier than the prior day. She didn't recognize me from the previous day. She would have actually had to look in my face to know. I saw one of my colleagues already seated and walked toward her table. 

The young lady stopped me and actually said, "Where do you think you're going?"

I think I gave her the wrong answer. "I'm going to eat breakfast." 

She went on to ask a series of questions, and, I should add, the restaurant was empty except for my colleague and one other table. I eventually stopped answering her questions and walked to the table. She muttered something about my genealogy and did not send good morning wishes.

There's so much more to this story, I encourage you to listen to the Greenelines podcast to hear more details/ranting about this page-turner. ( (The story won't be online for a couple weeks but there are other stories to download for your smartphone listening pleasure.)

Effective leaders know that great finishes come from small beginnings. What starts well ends well.

Consider these beginnings:

  • The first two minutes after arriving at home
  • Your early morning habits
  • Your arrival routine at the office
  • The greeting your guests receive at the front door of your office
  • The greeting system at every point of contact with a customer or vendor/partner
  • Your parking lot ministry before service (I know a pastor who shakes hands and greets members by name in the parking lot every Sunday morning.)
  • The first five minutes of your worship service
  • The first words spoken to a customer at a check-out counter (Is it random?)

I believe in systems. I believe any front-door greeting should be systematized.

Front-door failure is not an option. It is doesn't mix well with breakfast.

"For who has despised the day of small things? These seven will rejoice and see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These are the eyes of the Lord, which survey to and fro throughout the earth" (Zechariah 4:10).

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, here.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.

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