While on vacation recently, I witnessed a pretty cool example of leadership in action. I was out to dinner and a couple tables over from me was a group of 12 or so people. It was early evening, the restaurant wasn't crowded yet and the head honcho's voice carried, so I got a pretty good idea of what was going on.
The leader, he appeared to be the manager of the rest of the people at the table, gathered his group for a casual dinner and to present some awards. The man was charismatic, sincere and laid-back all at the same time - not easy to do. He started by thanking his staff for their hard work and for their contributions that not only helped the bottom line but also earlier in the day earned him some award. They group appeared to be gathered for a convention or company meeting of some sorts, as everyone at the table was from all across the country
He proceeded to hand out awards, just those 8x10 certificates as far as my friends and I could tell, nothing special. He'd go on about a person's achievement, then name the recipient, then have a picture taken with them. My friends and I were transfixed by this guy. "Who's going to win next?" we'd wonder. And grant you, we had no idea what industry these people worked in (probably sales of some sort) or what their awards meant, but everyone in that group would hoot and holler for the winners.
The last person to be recognized won some big-time award. When he came up to the leader to get his award, he stopped and thanked the man for being such a good boss. He said the man was always there when he was needed, but otherwise let people do their own thing. Basically, he didn't micromanage them. All the other people at the table applauded and yelled for the leader. Then, to end the "awards" part of the evening, he handed out everyone's birthday cards (all specially chosen for each person) with a small gift in each, saying he didn't want to forget them during the year and it was easier to do them all at once. The entire group broke out laughing and had a great time comparing cards.
Now the cynical among us may say, "What a bunch of bull. Gather people for dinner and give them some flimsy paper. Big deal." Had I heard the above and not seen it, I may have had the same reaction. But this guy was good. He seemed to genuinely care for each person at the table and convey that. He sincerely thanked them for all their hard work over the past year. And unless they were undertakers, I'm sure their year was as hard as yours and mine. But what was most exciting was he had everyone (my table included) excited about working for this company. That, my friends, is an impressive leader.