Leader-in-You

Leadership is a quality that takes you down a rewarding path of trial and error. The process of finding your voice and the style in which you lead can all be very empowering because not everybody is born a leader. Some have to slowly work their way out of their shells to gain the confidence necessary to lead in any way. I feel that I fall somewhere in the middle in the sense that I’ve displayed some leadership ability but with an introverted leaning personality. But looking back now when I was younger I had no desire to be a leader at all, but now even though I’m still young at twenty-two years old my whole idea of being a leader has changed, it’s helped boost my self confidence in ways I didn’t realize until self-reflection. It also helped provide at least a little clarity of what the hell I want to do with my life. The life lessons and inherent accountability that come with being a leader in the workplace have been invaluable to me and to anybody willing to put in the work could see great benefits in taking charge in some way.

Playing baseball at a young age is what first exposed me to the idea of leadership that I can remember. Having the opportunity to learn the game from passionate coaches who at times could be stern and demanding but also patient and caring helped instill self-accountability in me as well as a willingness to learn. From taking time individually to teach us how to swing, to the way they throw as well as trying not to catch a ball to the face while in the infield, I learned that one the hard way not paying attention during practice I caught a line drive to the face and too this day my uncle Shawn who was one of my coaches still pesters me saying “Keep your eye on the ball!”. They would always take time individually to work with players who may have been struggling but also would not baby us in a way that we wouldn’t learn the game properly it was about balance. It wouldn’t have been so easy had I not had coaches who were willing to be patient with a group of screaming five and six year olds. They could have not taken the job seriously, they didn’t have too calmly try to get us all together when there were kids sitting in the grass not paying attention but displaying patience, passion and leadership the coaches we had made the game fun, understandable and prompting most of us to continue playing in the following years. Being an adult now I still envy the patience it would take to teach a group of young kids a sport from no prior experience and I feel patience is a very underrated characteristic of leadership and something I continually have to try and improve upon.

I’ve been with Starbucks for just about 3 years and I have worked with a lot of great workers and people, one stood out as a one-sided mentor. One of my closing supervisors when I had started with the company was just about the epitome of a well-oiled machine in the way she worked and conducted her shifts. But she was also the quietest supervisor yet commanded the most respect in my opinion because partners were aware of the consequences of breaking rules on the shift. I would always be wary of her whenever I curse, because if I did I would get a very loud “EXCUSE YOU!” so I learned pretty quick to just not curse at all with her. It was never unfair and I can’t remember ever getting out fifteen minutes later than we closed whenever she ran the shift. She had routines for the way the whole evening would go down and she executed them flawlessly more often than not. But I think her best quality was her ability to lead by example she would not pawn off the dirty work too other partners just because she didn’t feel like doing it, and if it came to making drinks more often than not she was faster. It’s been an odd feeling being a supervisor now a few years later leading her on my shifts since she now stepped down back to the role of barista and gaining her mutual respect as I try my best at running my shifts in as smooth a manner as she did.

More than anything I’d say my journey with Starbucks while sometimes tumultuous has been the most defining experience in becoming the leader I am today. Through dealing with very special customers, trying to keep a barista team of great strong minded wonderful people focused on the task at hand all while providing the best service possible. Bad days happen, people call off, customers are extra rude and business is expected to go on as usual regardless of how frustrating and mentally tiring it may be. There may be days when you have people Punch through your front door or throw a drink through the drive through window, however I’m always expected to keep my composure because if I seem stressed I pass that on too my whole team and people get flustered and things unravel and there goes the day. But with keeping things under control, putting people in place to succeed, pushing standards and maintaining a good light-hearted vibe on the floor I’ve come too developed my own style of leadership. Neither better nor worse than others but continuing to evolve to be the best leader I can be.

To be a leader was something I never cared for growing up, I had preferred to be in the background, not anti-social but definitely much quieter. I was content with being a little outspoken and just kind of going along for the ride. Today I find myself much more motivated and overall confident. And even though I’m not completely aware of what I want to do going forward but I do know that I have a newfound passion too lead. I had never realized how much some baseball coaches when I was six and my second job when I was nineteen would have such a profound impact on my idea of being a leader. And now whether it’s a night crew at Starbucks or a business team going forward I will continue to lead in the best way I can.