The one in front of you

20-StarfishWe have just returned from what proved to be an awesome “big trip”away to India, Africa and Asia and as ever there was so much to learn about what it means to be an effective leader.  On our way back from Mozambique, we touched down at a small airport in Pemba and I had the joy and privilege of meeting one of my personal heroes- an amazing woman called Heidi Baker.  Heidi is a small woman with a massive heart and a faith which is nothing short of electric!  What stayed with me though was her comment that she always endeavours to “pay attention to the one in front of her”.

What does it mean, to pay attention to the one in front of us?

As leaders in different spheres and with different levels of responsibility, its easy (and understandable) to be focused on strategy, vision, marketing, stakeholders, board meetings, reports – oh and yes, customers or clients- but who is in front of us now?

Is it the cleaner?  the porter?  someone in the admin hub (whose name you don’t actually know), someone you manage (albeit remotely), a colleague? a Big Issue sales person?

How we treat the one in front of us says a lot about who we are as leaders.

And yes, of course there are time pressures and deadlines and protocols and processes and duties and obligations, but what if we paid more attention to the one in front of us, however fleetingly- what kind of a difference could we make?

We all know the age old story of the young girl on a beach throwing back starfish one by one and when challenged about how she could hope to make a difference, she thought a while, picked up another star fish and then replied “I made a difference to that one”- what if we could make a difference to the one in front of us?  What would that look like?  Sound like? Feel like?

Heidi Baker has an international influence and has impacted thousands of lives- but she had time for the one in front of her- I’m glad she did.