22 December 2008

I'm Impressed

I'm working the early shift here in the ER today, and because of the historically bad weather here, I left really early for work.  The commute was scary, but the streets were empty of traffic, and I arrived at 5:30 AM for my six o'clock shift.   As I exited the parking garage, I noticed a man in work clothes shoveling off the walkway to the hospital.  I was fiddling with my cell phone (actually texting the wife to let her know I made it OK) so I didn't pay him any mind.  I was surprised when he greeted me by name, and more surprised when I looked at him more closely and realized it was the CEO of the hospital.

Shoveling snow.

At 5:30 AM.

In the garage.

The CEO.

I was stunned.  I made a little joke about how he's been reduced to pushing a shovel, and he replied with good cheer, "Well, somebody's got to do it, and half the staff wasn't able to make it in, what with the roads and all.  The last thing I want is for an employee or patient to slip on their way in -- that's be all we need!"   We chatted for a minute and parted ways.  As I was finishing my text, I noticed him stop to greet a couple of nurses on their way in, and thank them for coming in to work today.

Now that's leadership.   He could have rolled in at eight and gotten a status report from the managers.   He could have noticed the snow and called security (or whomever) to go shovel it.   But here he was, in the dark and freezing cold, doing the job that needed to be done, and not coincidentally setting the example and the tone for the rest of the staff during a difficult time.   I've worked with some less-than-stellar leadership in my time, and it's a painful thing.   Having good leaders is absolutely critical.

Well done, Dave.

O now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin'd band
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
For forth he goes and visits all his host.
Bids them good morrow with a modest smile
And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen.
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks:
A largess universal like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.

 -- Henry V, Act IV, Prologue


  1. Reminds me of a similar story a sergeant major in the Israeli army

    My hat goes off to the CEO. I don't know if I could do the same were I in his position.

  2. Well done that man.

    Too few people like that in this world

  3. Great CEO. Perhaps the assumed lowly 'snow shoveling guy' would have enjoyed a similar cheery greeting from the ER doc?

  4. Ruth,

    Yeah, I try to recognize and be nice to everybody -- as I mentioned, I was a little preoccupied until he broke into my reverie.



  5. How did you unfreeze your lips from his ass? Hehe. A Christmas Story.

  6. Sounds like your CEO is one-of-a-kind. For someone at the top of the corporate food chain to be doing menial work himself just "because it needed done" is a rarity, I should think.

    You know, I can't help but wonder if he began his working life at the bottom of the heap with the rest of us peons, rather than moving into a management/white-collar position straight out of college. The owner of the company I work for did his share of wage-slave labor when he was younger - and he doesn't consider himself to be too good to push a broom or haul out trash if that's what needs doing. Leadership by example is how it should be done!

  7. If I knew Dave, I'd give him a hug. There need to be more people like him in management.

  8. I smiled at what shrtstormtrooper wrote. I know this sounds all self-absorbed and everything but if I knew Dave I would hang around him until he asked me out for a date. -- assuming he's available of course.

  9. Our VP was doing monitored patient transports the other day with nurses because transport was short-staffed. Good PR right there (better PR to not cut transport positions, but I digress).

  10. That's an incredible example of leadership. The world needs more of those.

  11. Great story and I'm glad you acknowledged him in the blog. He sounds like a real leader!

  12. Reminded me of Good King Wenceslas...


  13. Sometimes the attitude at the top is the difference between a good company and a great one.

    You're lucky to have such a CEO.

  14. The people shoveling out the receiving dock yesterday at my hospital were buyers.

    I got out of it, said I had a hurt back (true), but I still had to sort FedEx packages.

  15. Props to the CEO. It's sad how rare down-to-earth leaders are. Thanks for sharing!

  16. is that really a good use of ceo time? it may be in the sense of being an inspirational story-in which case, the most important part is being seen doing it and getting the word out.

  17. I worked with a CNE who would answer call lights.

    She just hated for call lights to go off when everyone was busy.

    And if someone needed to go to the bathroom, she took them, in her business suit and all. No fuss, no muss.

    I would work for her in a NY minute again if I had to...a "get it done" attitude is what we need more of in this country of ours, not another corporate welfare CEO.


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