Ruby Newell-Legner - 7 Star Service
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Are You A Leader … Or Just A Manager?

Business selfieMy first non-summer job was working at a movie theater. I sold tickets and worked in the concessions stand, where I received my initial glimpses of what it took to run a business. Here is what I saw:

My ticket-sales supervisor was all about “the rules.” He made sure we only gave the children’s discount to kids under 12 years old, which was always a tough call for me — especially when mom or dad would make the teenage-looking “child” wait by the door instead of walk up to the cashier’s window. My supervisor would rudely question a parent he presumed had paid the children’s price for someone who, clearly, was no longer a child. So much for creating a positive experience for guests.

The theater’s owner was in charge of my other area of responsibility: the concessions stand. He was all about “management” and focused on efficiency. His office was upstairs, next to the projection booth, and he sporadically would venture downstairs to see if the concessions crew was doing its job. He liked to take the stairs two at a time, so we always knew when he was coming. We would hear thud thud thud, and that was our cue to make sure nobody left the sliding top door of the freezer slightly ajar. We also hoped we hadn’t overestimated the size of the crowd and popped too much popcorn. If we did, we would be lectured about the high cost of popcorn, oil and electricity.

I wonder how different things might have been if someone in charge at that theater had been a true leader, an individual who shared the vision of a positive movie-going experience for guests — not to mention a positive working experience for employees. I was treated as an hourly employee, someone who came in, worked my shift and went home. I was never invited to be part of the company.

What if someone at that theater had taught my coworkers and me the intricacies and value of taking pride in our work — actions that no doubt would have inspired me to do a better job? Instead, I simply showed up, sold tickets, hoped I estimated the right amount of popcorn to pop and prayed I didn’t hear thud thud thud coming to check on me.

All too often, the people in charge drain every ounce of inspiration from employees by focusing on the wrong things. Usually, these people are administrators or managers, but rarely leaders.

Where do you expend your energies? Are you an administrator who focuses on the rules and procedures? 
Are you a manager primarily concerned about efficiency and results?

Or are you a leader who shares the vision of your department and organization with every employee and creates an atmosphere where staff is excited and motivated to help you turn that vision into reality?

(Photo by iStock)

About Ruby Newell-Legner

As a Fan Experience Expert, Ruby helps leaders in sports, leisure and entertainment build strong teams between front line staff and management, and make exceptional customer service a way of life. She has consulted with and designed customized training programs for more than 60 sports and entertainment venues, 80 leisure facilities and 29 professional sports teams. From the only 7 Star Hotel in the world to Convention Centers, from Denver to Dubai, Ruby brings unprecedented expertise and insight on how to create a service culture that motivates employees and promotes customer loyalty and retention.

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