You don’t need a title to be a Leader

Waldorf_Hotel_1893A true leader doesn’t need an ego-boosting title to affirm his ability to lead. Their approach is not to control others but to serve them — always giving and expecting nothing in return, even when it means foregoing their own comfort.

This authentic way of leading  is wonderfully and poignantly illustrated by this story about an elderly man and his wife who stepped out of the wild storm into the shelter of a small hotel lobby in Philadelphia, America.

‘Could you possibly give us a room here?’ the husband asked.

The clerk, a friendly man with a winning smile, looked at the couple and explained that there were three conventions in town.

‘All of our rooms are taken,’ the clerk said. ‘But I can’t send a nice couple like you out into the rain at one o’clock in the morning. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not exactly a suite, but it will be good enough to make you folks comfortable for the night.’

When the couple declined, the young man pressed on. ‘Don’t worry about me, I’ll make out just fine,’ the clerk told them.

So the couple agreed.

As he paid his bill the next morning, the elderly man said to the clerk, ‘You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.’

The clerk looked at them and smiled. The three of them had a good laugh. As they drove away, the elderly couple agreed that the helpful clerk was indeed exceptional, as finding people who are both friendly and helpful isn’t easy.

Two years passed. The clerk had almost forgotten the incident when he received a letter from the old man. It recalled that stormy night and enclosed a round-trip ticket to New York, asking the young man to pay them a visit.

The old man met him in New York, and led him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. He then pointed to a great new building there, a pale reddish stone, with turrets and watchtowers thrusting up to the sky.

‘That,’ said the older man, ‘is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.’

‘You must be joking,’ the young man said.

‘I can assure you I am not,’ said the older man, a sly smile playing around his mouth.

The older man’s name was William Waldorf-Aster – and that magnificent structure was the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel! And that young clerk was George C. Boldt – proudly made it’s very first manager by the wise ol’ William Waldorf-Aster. What a truly fantastic example of how true leadership leads to success and excellence – for everyone involved!

This text was originally published in ‘Mug and Tweet’ – available from Amazon as a Kindle download:

Image courtesy of

About RichSimmondsZA

Retired but still Disruptive
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2 Responses to You don’t need a title to be a Leader

  1. Random Guy-Servant (randomgs) of Bajan13K, `teh says:

    Interestingly, though, he did have the authority and freedom from “red tape” and “committee pressure” (group think) to do so; in many cases today clerks won’t have the room to share, in the first place, because staff is valued only as cost and not as partners (in the sense of, a vital part of the business).

    Some systems are designed to make people so strictly compliant, that they cannot express human kindness of any great degree, even if they want to. The best most clerks could do nowadays, is make bookings at another hotel, and that is actually what a lot of them do, although they might not expect any rewards beyond knowing they found a way to be human in an inhumane system.


  2. Pingback: TaungDailyNews

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