I remember upon opening The Phoenix Restaurant in Bend, Oregon, hiring Debra Brickey as our part time bookkeeper. Her presence was steady and professional, even after the somewhat roller coaster ride one sometimes experiences upon an upstart new venture and especially in a restaurant.
In a span of six months, even in a part time position as the restaurant’s bookkeeper, her elegant leadership style emanated from the small office in the back of the restaurant throughout the kitchen and front of the house. Our “forming and storming” period was quickly transformed into a “norming and performing” team.
Women have a unique style of leadership. When one thinks of leadership, oftentimes the more gregarious types come to mind like General Patton. But leadership has many dimensions. Such leaders as the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln come to mind, while a more infamous one would be Adolf Hitler.
What I have found in my 35-years working in the government/military and information technology-based business environment, is that women have a propensity to think more global, like for the global good of the organization than their male counterparts which may lead with vigor on a mission to be accomplished.
Perhaps it is women’s nurturing makeup that gives a more holistic view of the company’s purpose. Not to say there are not those who are the exception, where decisiveness and “fierce conversations” fit my style, for example. But leaders like Debra and her female or male counterparts who are like her in her leadership style, are often overlooked.
There is no drama or heroism where something went very wrong under their leadership and now they are hero’s fixing it. Rather their style is deliberative, steady, fair, honest and without a lot of fanfare. Leaders like these tend to act honorably each day. They demonstrate via their actions their respect of others and address disrespectful behavior quickly and privately with the offending person under their leadership.
I have hired many talented individuals, what others may view as unlikely for a position, from my dog sitter who was completely organized and precise, exactly what I needed for project accounting, to my housekeeper who had endless energy as a human resources manager creating goodwill and great synergy with our employee owners throughout the country to transitioning a Phoenix bus boy to work at n-Link, who is amazing on systems and is well on his way to be the company’s controller (soon) as he fixes a prior controller’s messes to a waitress who is my right hand legal and contracts manager that describes herself as OCD, a characteristic I needed to review all the legal documents and put order to the chaos, and many other examples.
We have incredibly talented people all around us, we just have to see them, not in the position they are currently working as that is often due to the economic environment that has put these individuals where they are. Rather, as I meet people, open from who they are at that moment and see the person for who they can become. It is a remarkable journey to take, to watch as these people, once unleashed, become everything they know they can become.
I love Debra who is now the general manager of The Phoenix. I will always be grateful to her and others like her. These are really special people who are not glory seekers and work with their hearts and souls completely intact, leading by example with honor, integrity and with respect.
Sandra Green is owner of The Phoenix Restaurant and CEO and Employee Owner of n-Link Corporation.