Passionate Pursuit of Purpose

The incident of the spilled coffee

Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Character Development, Leadership | 0 comments


Is Spilled coffee a big deal?

Is Spilled coffee a big deal?

Several years ago I worked with a man who had some slight handicaps. He had been a severe car accident in his teens and was in a coma for several weeks.  He functioned quite well, however he had some slight coordination, memory, and speech issues. 

One day we both arrived and clocked in right around the same time.  I was ready to get to work and rushed toward the long walk to our work stations not waiting for him to join me.

He wanted to walk with me and began trying to run toward me with the cup of coffee he had purchased on his way to work.  As he ran in his slightly uncoordinated way, his brand new cup of coffee fell out of his hand seeped into the gravel driveway. He quickly picked up his now empty cup with a twinge of disappointment and continued hurried toward me.

Immediately a crashing wave of guilt attempted to drown me, as I realized that if I would have waited 20 seconds his coffee wouldn’t be all over the ground.This may seem inconsequential, however I was a manager in the organization with a desire to be a leader and I was so focused on starting a task, I had missed an opportunity to strengthen a relationship.  20 seconds…. And I would have had a constructive 2 minute walk with someone who respected and was inspired by my work.  20 seconds…. And I could have encouraged him and found out how things were going in his life.

Tasks are an opportunity to have a shared experience of accomplishing a goal together.

As a leader few tasks are more important than our relationships and encouraging those around us.  (This is not an excuse to spend the first 15 minutes of your day talking about the gossip from the previous night’s reality show.)  It is having an awareness of those around us and emphasizing relationships as we accomplish our goals. 

Here are some ways building those relationships can increase productivity:

  1. Creativity that improves company processes or products
  2. More motivated (cause the leader cares)
  3. Aware of personal problems that could effect productivity (leader then can provide resources to help them through the situation)
  4. Team members become more loyal
  5. Team members enjoy coming to work


What other ways do strong relationships help a business?