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Leadership Spotlight

Leadership Spotlight
Table Manners from Mom and Dad


You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jelly beans.
—Ronald Reagan

As a child growing up in a middle class family with two brothers and a sister, we always were coming and going in many different directions—except when it was time for dinner. It was an unspoken rule that all family members had to be at the dinner table by 5 p.m. on weekdays. While I recall a few meals that were not particularly appetizing (meatloaf with raisins—sorry Mom), the conversations always were rewarding. Eating dinner together was considered a time to unite and share the day's happenings and events. It also was a time of instruction on the proper etiquette required at the dinner table. I am reminded today of the many life teachings that my parents instilled at dinnertime in the guise of table manners.

TEN LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE DINNER TABLE

Lesson
Leadership Translation
Be punctual Honor your commitments by being on time or notifying others when you will be late.
Give thanks It is simple, free, and powerful to show appreciation. We can inspire others by thanking them for their efforts.
Place your napkin on your lap The professional courtesies we sometimes ignore or forget leave a lasting impression and can weaken team morale. Manners count!
Ask someone to pass you the food Ask advice from others and let them feed your creativity.
Use little or no salt Too much of anything is generally unhealthy; maintain a balanced worklife that keeps stress in check.
Try new foods Expand your palate by seeking new learning opportunities that make you a well-rounded leader.
Listen to what is said at the table Generous listening is rare. Take time to be a more active listener.
Share something about your day Share your skills, talents, and experience with others. This is a great way to build new leaders.
Don't overeat Avoid taking fill in yourself because of a title or position. It creates indigestion for everyone, including you.
Help clean up the dishes Understand that it never hurts to occasionally climb back in the trench and help. Servant leadership speaks volumes.

Christopher C. Lenhard, a member of the Leadership Development Institute at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.