Despite how much I am desperately looking forward to leaving at least this particular part of my career behind, feel like I have taken many good lessons away from it.  I had the good fortune to work for two of the best mentors I have ever had.  One who taught me how to sell, and one who taught me how to lead.  As I look back on all that has taken place, I am thankful that I have learned these things, and they will make me more able to succeed in my own dreams.

 One of the best lessons I took away was actually unlearning a bad leadership habit from the past.  I think it is one that many people suffer from, and it almost feels un-American to question it.  Yet by following what we feel is the most noble or egalitarian route, we are actually damaging the unit as a whole.

 That is the principle of leading from the front.  In every interview you are asked how you would lead or inspire the people you are put in charge of.  For some reason, the vast majority of us feels compelled to talk about how you would lead from the front and never ask people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.  

 This isn’t a bad sentiment, and no doubt the vast majority of people that make this statement mean it with all possible sincerity.  We don’t want our bosses to think of us as sitting back in an easy chair while the crew does all the work.  So then we hop in there with them and dust the shelves, or fix the price signs, or clean the fridge, or whatever.  No doubt this makes the team love you.  You are one of the boys, proud torch carrier of the noble traditions, but are you really doing what you should?  Is that really the best use of your time?

 As a leader, you are paid more, and given more responsibility.  It is your job to ensure the success of the entire team.  That is why you are paid more.  Your job is to be looking at the big picture, and making decisions based on what you see.  For as good as it feels to be part of the team, if your unit fails, talking about the number of shelves you dusted isn’t going to go over well at your next performance review.

 This was something I learned here.  I used to clean the items.  I used to fix the price signs.  I used to do all of those tasks.  What I wasn’t doing was watching and listening to my crew.  I found out how much more valuable it is to stand back and evaluate and train than it is to task.  When done right, you can operate a team of six people as an extension of yourself, and that can’t be done when you are down in the mud with them.

 It is a noble ideal that we are all equal in what we do, but we aren’t.  Someone has to make the choices, and that person is you.  Don’t get so lost in the trenches that you can’t see over the next rise.