This week, the girl at the Indian grocery store demonstrated a simple need which most of the current leaders fail to understand and hence provide. When I talk about leaders, I am talking about leaders at work place. She was at the cash counter, taking care a long queue of customer on a busy Saturday efficiently and briskly. She called out to a man who was passing by. I understood he was the man in charge for the day by the exchange. What she said was simple, "Annaa, please order food. You always order it very late...".
Annaa, in case you are wondering, is not the name of a girl but the respectful way of addressing a man who is older than you in Tamil. It means elder brother but the emphasis is on the respect. The extra a at the end was added by me to indicate the heart-tugging way she was asking for food. The man in charge did a double take, nodded and walked fast to hide his embarrassment. My reaction was simple. I looked down and smiled. I could easily connect with her because I was in the same boat a few months back. I was working hard, putting long hours and sacrificing weekends. There was no decent choice for food in that locality other than a Domino's pizza and an Indian restaurant which specialized in using a whole lot of oil. On top of it, the leader was always prompt in ordering food very late. If you know me personally, you already know the effect of limited choices and lack of food on me.
I have heard many leaders talking about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It deals with how you motivate an individual by catering to the basic level of needs and then going up. That is me summarizing for you. Now my question to all of you leaders is this. Where do you put food in this hierarchy of needs? I would place in the very bottom of the pyramid. So, it brings up the next question. If your team is stretching and sacrificing weekends, shouldn't you at least get them some food? Now, don't you go chicken-and-egg on me. Good work will follow the food. Not the other way round.