Target and Leadership Lessons

Confession time:  I love Target.  Like really, really love it.  There’s something about that place that calls to me, and I answer, probably a little too much.  But now I’m digressing into another post.

Yesterday, I answered the call to Target with the justification of a toiletries list, and had an epiphany in the check out line.

As I waited in a long line with other Target addicts, I watched as a supervisor made calls over the walkie-talkie for other cashiers.  She observed the scene at the checkout line, eyes darting from cashier to long line to cashier, and made several pleas to staff.   I’ve been to Target enough times to know this is a regular practice there.

And every time I watch that scenario unfold it drives me crazy because there’s a lapse between when the supervisor calls for backup and when the backup arrives.  And I stand there with my cart full of toiletries (and treats – let’s be honest, I always add something to the cart that wasn’t on the list because Target’s marketing is brilliant) waiting with growing impatience because the supervisor could just jump on a checkout line and help.  They could answer their own call for help, right?

So as I stood there tapping my foot and judging the supervisor, it hit me, this was about leadership – more specifically, this is an area of growth in leadership for me.  Good leadership often requires a view that’s above the hectic fast pace of the check out line.  A good leader needs to have sight on all angles to know how best to place those working the lines.  They need to be able to direct, guide, and make calls because they can see the whole picture.

But I struggle with that.  I am a do-er by nature and I enjoy achieving.  I’m also a team player, so I love to pitch in and accomplish tasks.  I’m also a big proponent of servant leadership and I want to model what I’m asking to be done.  It feels disingenuous and downright wrong for me to observe and direct when I could just help.

But the truth is, sometimes I help less when I’m all pitched in because I’m not seeing all that I need to see.  I might help in the short-term, but it’s not helpful in the long-term.  Sometimes I need to stay back and direct because my role as a supervisor really does help the team in the long-term.  I need to grow in being ok with that.

What about you leaders?  Anyone else struggle with the tension between pitching in with your team and leading your team?

Does this mean I get to keep  going to Target regularly so I can have more leadership enlightenment?

2 thoughts on “Target and Leadership Lessons

  1. I had to laugh because I’ve had the exact same thought about the Target check-out line supervisors. I’m glad you took that thinking to the next level and saw beyond the frustration. Thanks for sharing! And yes, definitely keep heading back to Target for more leadership lessons. 🙂

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