I started my day with breakfast on my balcony. The weather was good, my food tasted great and I even had the perfect playlist filling the airwaves. It was going to be a wonderful day, or so I thought.
Things quickly changed when I checked my office voicemail. I had a message telling me that there was a problem with our van rental for the next day, so I returned the phone call. Kirk, quickly explained to me that his company had been a part of a massive van recall and they could no longer provide our team with transportation for our tournament this weekend. He went on to say, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.” And in that exact moment I knew I was in trouble. Not because I had to transport a college soccer team to a tournament in Chicago that weekend, not because we had hotels booked, not because we paid a tournament entry fee, not because other teams were counting on us and not because we had team parents who had all made arrangements to come see us play. I knew I was in trouble because I was trying to work with an employee at a very large and reputable car rental company who said to me there was nothing he could do, which is code for I am not empowered to take care of our customers.
A company that empowers it’s employees would have had a list of solutions in line before they even called me. They would have expected Kirk to provide a solution and they would have encouraged him to bend or even break the rules in order to meet the needs of a customer. Kirk would have been allowed to think outside the box but that was simply not the case. He made it clear early in the conversation that there was nothing he could do.
This company lost my business today not because they had to cancel a rental at the last minute, things like that happen. They lost my business because they don’t empower their employees to solve problems and I want to do business with people who lead by empowering others.
Great leaders empower others and I want to do business with great leaders.