leadership and trash retrieval

My Patient Husband said to me, “I didn’t tell you about Mike.”

Mike is the name we’ll use for the CEO/Owner/Grand High Poobah of Patient Industries, the good folks who employ my Patient Husband. Mike frequently comes up in conversation as simply “Mike,” not “Michael Archangelo” or Mr. Archangelo. He’s just Mike to his subordinates and other employees.

In addition to being very reachable, Mike is an involved Grand High Poobah, keeping informed of changes all over the company and offering input while at the same time trusting the good people he hired to do the good jobs he paid them to do. This system, though alien in much corporate culture, cultivates a quiet pride in everyone, manifested especially in Mike himself, and the dedication to a quality product. No detail is too insignificant to be taken care of well.

My Patient Husband gets early to work, very early, and it’s not infrequent for him to spot Mike parking his car or walking the halls.

“I ended up following him in on Thursday,” he said to me.

It was barely light back when this happened, the morning chill and very silent, the building mostly dim but the entryway lit as Mike approached the five-story building that is company headquarters. My Patient Husband had just gotten out of his car and was walking up the path to the building.

As he walked, Mike passed a piece of trash on the ground. And he bent over to pick it up.

It doesn’t sound huge, right? But how many corporate Poobahs do you hear about who are simply too good to do someone else’s job? Mike didn’t page maintenance. He didn’t tell the security guard to go pick up the garbage on the front walkway. He didn’t issue a company-wide memo telling everyone that litterbugs are evil people. He didn’t dust the trash for prints with the intention of firing the person who’d dropped it.

Mike just saw something that needed doing, and he was the one to do it. It’s his company: he takes pride in it, and he wants it to look as good to everyone else as it does to him. He wasn’t doing it for show: he probably though the was the only one around. At risk of sounding trite, he loves his company, and this was an act of love.

Some company owners might have thought it would have lowered them to pick up the trash. Mike doesn’t know it, but in my eyes, that raised him higher.


  1. cricketB

    Awesome boss! I’ve found the best way to reduce groans when it’s their turn to clean the bathroom is to take most of the shifts myself, so it never gets gross.