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Arnold Tijerina

Arnold Tijerina President & Corporate Storyteller

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A Lesson In Leadership from An Unlikely Source

“While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job.”

Sometimes life gets hectic. We try to focus on and accomplish too many things at the same time. We have deadlines to meet, customers vying for our attention, fires to put out and countless voicemails and e-mails to respond to. In a world where employers consider multi-tasking a desirable trait, we’re taught from a very young age that this is a necessary skill. Sometimes, by focusing on too many things at once, we end up not focusing on anything at all.

A customer’s experience in your dealership is completely dependent on your focus. They can’t multi-task their way to a solution. Only you have that. I realize that on a busy weekend at a dealership there are times when you’re being pulled in multiple directions. To a customer, however, they are the sun that everything revolves around.

While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm."

The most successful business people know that you must treat each customer as if they are your only one. Customers intuitively know when chaos is present – whether by observation or intuition. No matter how busy you are, by stopping and giving a customer… any customer… your undivided attention, not only will you be more effective in resolving their problem but you will also instill in them a feeling of gratitude and, if you’re lucky, loyalty.

“We were forced to stop often and we took those opportunities to encourage each other with a quiet word, a joke, or a gentle pat on the back.” 

Don’t forget that you have a team. Teamwork is crucial in these moments of chaos. The ultimate goal is to provide a solution that is satisfactory to the customer. Maybe you aren’t the right person to efficiently guide the customer down the path to a resolution. In these times, what typically happens is that you’re forced to get someone else involved. A great team knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Each member knows the best player for every situation and gets them involved immediately.

“…we must choose to trust those leaders who must also work hard earn to our trust through wise and timely decision making.”

As a manager, sometimes you are the one being asked to resolve problems. You are the ones being asked to multi-task. You are the one who is focusing on so many things at once that you lose focus. Your team looks to you to guide them in these moments of chaos. You must be able to focus on the single most important task you have: the customer standing in front of you. If you’re trying to desk and close deals while answering the phone and helping customers, you’ll accomplish a little bit of everything but a lot of nothing. Be a leader who shows customers that they are the most important task at that moment and follow through with that promise. Not only will you end up with a happy customer, you will also become a role model for the future managers on your team.

“Don’t stop until the work is over; sometimes being a hero is just doing your job.” 

Be a hero to your customers and your team. That’s what great leaders are. Every one of us has someone in our lives that we consider our mentor in life. Be that mentor to your team and guide them through the chaos by remaining calm despite it. Teach them that the customer in front of you is the only one that matters. Reinforce it by following your own advice. They will notice and they will buy in.

These lessons originated from an unlikely source. Roselle, you see, is a dog. Her owner is blind. He also happened to work in the World Trade Center and was on the 78th floor when planes flew into the building. There were an estimated 17,400 people in the Twin Towers when this horrible event occurred. Not only did Roselle guide her owner down 1,463 stairs to safety but she was also “giving doggie kisses to each and every firefighter who climbed past us up the stairs.”

“While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm."

In the midst of all of this chaos, Roselle focused on a single task. She led her owner outside and, despite the chaos and falling debris, found the nearest subway station and led her owner underground.

Roselle was honored as the American Hero Dog of the Year. While she isn’t with us anymore physically, her memory and lessons stay with us to this day. Roselle wasn’t just any dog. Roselle was a highly trained guide dog that had a single job to do for a single customer – her owner. Had she not been trained, she couldn’t accomplish this task with the laser focus that she must have had to navigate down one of only three stairwells along with 17,000 other people for 78 floors to achieve her goal.

“Sometimes the way is hard, but if we work together, we will make it down the stairs.” 

Never forget.






[Credits: The Today Show, Fox News and Wikipedia]

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