One leadership lesson that I will never forget.

Our New Parking Lot…

In 2002, I had just taken on a new leadership role in Dallas for a household goods relocation company and was trying to make my mark as a young operations leader. I was hired to elevate our quality and culture by hiring, training and inspiring our team. It was a 24/7 job at the time but I was committed to the goal of growing the company. I was also responsible for facilities that were in poor condition at the time. At times, I really felt like I was in over my head, but the more great people I hired, the easier it seemed to lead the team. I enjoyed a lot of success during this time, but also made a lot of mistakes along the way. There was one mistake that has stuck with me for years, but made me a better leader today.

Our parking lot was awful. It was filled with lots of potholes and it not only looked bad, but was not good for our employees and guests vehicles to drive on each day. It was rather embarrassing and on my list of improvements. One day, a gentleman came into my office and told me he had been working down the road and would have additional asphalt to fill in the potholes of our parking lot. I thought it was a great idea so I let my leadership team know that I would be out of the office the following Friday, but there would be some guys filling the potholes while I was gone.Parking lot

I arrived at the office on Saturday morning and was surprised to see a BRAND NEW PARKING LOT with new yellow stripes! It looked wonderful, but I was in shock because I knew that the cost would be much more than filling some of the potholes like we agreed. I called the guy and he advised one of our leaders mentioned to go ahead and finish the parking lot since they had extra asphalt. When I told him our price agreement, he quickly pointed out the document signed was only for the price for square foot. I immediately thought, “I am going to be fired for this mistake”. Needless to say, we got everything worked out over the next few week,

Here are 3 leadership takeaways that might help you when faced with a similar situation:

  • Signing an open requisition is risky. When we help clients relocate their employees, we always send client the estimate for the total move cost, not just to move a few items.
  • Do your research. I should have contacted a business partner or friend to ask for a referral and discussed some of the costs associated with this project. Today we have the internet to assist us with information, but referrals are often the best source.
  • Communicate and Collaborate with others. When I am making a decision, I often ask others for their thoughts and request as much feedback as possible to make the best decision at the time. I once heard a guy say that feedback is the breakfast of champions.
  • You learn so much when you fail. I often hear leaders say to fail early and fail often. It’s the fastest way to success. The thing I have learned is when you fail, it’s important to own it and learn from it. People will accept this as part of learning when you own it and respond quickly to let them know that you understand what happened and what you plan to do to next time.

“The road to success is filled with potholes of failure.” -Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank.

Call to action: Share a story with someone when you made a huge mistake and the lesson you learned from it. Remember, it’s okay to fail when you own it and learn something from it.

This has been “a Relocation Minute update” on “A new parking lot” with Bruce Waller, for more information on relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email bwaller@goarmstrong.com. Follow me on Twitter too!

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