Thank Them! – That’s Accountable Leadership

Everyone has the ability to make a difference. This year, we have all learned that the hard way.

Three or four months ago, many people had this idea that someone who worked the checkout line at a grocery store, or someone who worked for the sanitation department collecting garbage, or someone who delivered food for people who wanted to enjoy a restaurant meal at home, or someone who worked at a similar job, was more or less tangential to the world that everyone else lived in. These workers seemed, to a lot of people, to matter less than people with fancier-sounding jobs and higher incomes.

Then the world changed, and everybody got a bit of a reality check.

What do we think about the people working at the supermarkets and the convenience stores now — the person at the cashier and the people in the stock room and the store manager, and everyone else who makes it possible for us to buy our groceries? What do we think of the sanitation workers now, the people who keep potentially toxic garbage from gathering in great piles in our streets? What do we think about the restaurant delivery person now, the person who is making it possible for us to at least remember what it would be like to eat out when we cannot eat out the way we want to? What about our mailperson or package delivery person? What about the person you never see who is keeping the lights on at the power plant? What about the person at the local water facility who is making sure water keeps coming out when you turn on the tap?

All of these people are heroes, and we all have good reason to notice that as we come to terms with lives being lived in entirely new ways. We find ourselves in a world where nothing and no one can be taken for granted. From one perspective, that is a hardship. But from another, it is a great blessing.

One of the critical commitments I talk about for leaders who are eager to model accountability is called “It’s All of Us.” When you make a commitment to “It’s All of Us,” you commit to acknowledging, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, that we are all in this together. That when one of us has a problem, all of us have a problem. That when one of us succeeds, all of us succeed. There has never been a better time than now to acknowledge that, in its fullest expression, “It’s All of Us” is not just about a single team or a single company. It is about the whole human family, and it is about everyone who supports and strengthens that family.

Today would be a great day for us all to say “thank you” to someone whose contribution to your world you did not truly appreciate before the global pandemic hit. For us to look them in the eye and let them know how much it means to us that they are willing to risk their comfort, their health, and perhaps their lives to show up at work and keep society functioning. They have already shown their commitment to “It’s All of Us.” We should do the same.


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