What bathroom queues have to do with leadership
Women reading this post will readily be able to identify with what I am about to share, but if you are male you may not even know this problem exists. The problem is the way women queue to go to the bathroom.
For reasons we don’t need to go into, there is more likely to be a need for women to queue for the loo than for men.
Right, now we’ve got that out of the way I want to hone in on a peculiar behaviour that the majority of women participate in - standing in the loo queue at the entrance to the bathroom, forcing every person who is also waiting, to queue outside the confines of the restroom - often spilling into the concourse of the airport or the bar area of a theatre. Call me a prude but if I am queueing for the loo I’d much rather do it in the privacy of the restroom rather than having my ‘call of nature’ on display for everyone to see.
It has also struck me as quite an odd behaviour. Is it driven by the belief that if you don’t block the next person in the queue from coming into the bathroom, they may somehow beat you to the next available loo? (Just as an aside, if someone really is that desperate it is probably in everyone’s best interest that you let them go first - just sayin’.)
But back to my loo queue. Now, whenever I encounter this odd behaviour, I move past the person at the front and stand inside the restroom. I’ve noticed that often once I’ve done this, others follow my lead. Sometimes, if I am being given the evil eye for breaking the loo queue protocol, I will reassure the person who is at the front of the queue that I will wait my turn and that my action was not in fact queue-jumping.
So what does my loo story have to do with leadership? Everything actually. You see leaders are the people who see something that is not in everyone’s best interest and then take action, even if it means putting your reputation at risk. Leaders do something to change situations that need improving. They don’t stand back and wish for things to be different. They step up and take action.
The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
When you came back to work after your summer break did you see things with fresh eyes? Are you a new hire or responsible for inducting a new hire into your organisation? All of these situations can highlight processes or situations that could do with being refreshed, changed or a different approach taken. I’ve also found that in the first quarter of the year, when people are freshest, they are more open to change.
So what is it in your world that is inviting you to step up as a leader and take action? Is it an unreasonable parent or customer that you actually need to stand up to instead of forever kowtowing to their wishes? Is it the dishes that end up in the sink rather than in the office dishwasher? Or is it the water cooler gossip that is harming your organisation’s culture?
Whatever it is, now is a good time to stand up and exercise your gift of leadership. Acting differently from others is actually what makes a leader, a leader.
My final confession is that aside from loo queues the other queues that do my head in are the ones at airport security - not at the really busy times when all those queueing posts and stanchions (yep those straps have a name) are necessary to ensure orderly queueing, but when security is almost empty and the only thing standing between you and the x-ray machines is that zig-zagging array of queuing posts and stanchions. It is at these times I bless my 164cm stature and you guessed it I duck under!
Enjoy being the leader you were destined to be...
Til next time,
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