Never underestimate the importance of leadership

Usually when I make one of my (all too frequent) stops at a fast food place and actually go in, I don’t really pay too much attention to what goes on behind the counter. Like many things I experience day to day, I usually just assume that things will work. On one recent visit, though, I couldn’t help observing the action.

The place was in chaos. There were only three people in line being served, there were three cashiers working. But it took forever for any of us to get our food. The cashiers, drive thru, and grill people were all talking about something, mostly complaining. There were no fries up. “Not my job.” “Where are the burgers?” “That one was supposed to be plain.” “Where is …?” The employees were mostly 20 or 30 somethings. Obviously not happy about being there at all.

Off to the corner was the “manager” (I use the term loosely) on duty. He was trying to figure something out on the milk shake machine. Oblivious to what was going on around him, even when the conversation turned to complaining about him. He looked like he was 17 or 18. I think he was trying to hide in plain sight.

About a minute later, the assistant manager came in. He seemed to be about the same age, but what a difference. He quickly saw what was happening (or not), assessed it, and got things moving.

Never underestimate the importance of leadership, even in the most mundane of situations.