Trickle Down Leadership
Unless you have a small business, and by that I basically mean you, your dog and your thoughts, you have to communicate the big picture to other people. Your vision has to do more than trickle down; it needs to flow. Sounds simple. Until you become a leader and you realize how hard it really is.

The other day my husband and I decided to try out a new restaurant. I called around noon for a 6 pm reservation. There was no answer, I left a message; we really wanted to go. So I stopped by during my errands at 2 pm. The door was locked, strange because you'd think they would be more, well...accessible.

Finally the owner called back and said they didn't take reservations for fewer than four, but at 6 pm they were sure we could get in. When we arrived, the place was barely one third full, I'd guess five parties in the dining room, one group in the bar. However, hostess #1 explained since we didn't have a reservation (by their rules we couldn't make one) they would not be able to seat us in the dining room; which was weird because they had tables for two. I was trying to figure out how you get one of those, when hostess #1 said they could seat us in the bar.

I looked over at the high top tables; they had stools with no backs, so I politely asked if they would mind if I took a chair fron the actual bar, which did have a back. We were clearly becoming trouble makers. Hostess #1 went into a ten minute (I am not exaggerating) meeting with Hostess #2 about where we should be seated. We remained the only group waiting for seating throughout that time.

Finally they settled on the dining room. The place never filled up, not even close. I won't even go into the fact that a waiter brought us calamari instead of the cauliflower we ordered; without a smile he grudgingly took it back. It was just one of those evenings.

The place is stunning - they've invested a fortune in the decor - which convinces me that they need to make it. I guess the owner is going to need to turn his attention from selecting sparkling chandeliers, to making sure his folks make customer relations sparkle.

Too often, as leaders we spend more time worrying about the window dressing than what's going on beyond the window. If we have employees who are, for example, more worried about following poorly-conceived rules than taking care of customers, we have a problem. The message about what's important isn't trickling down. Great leaders take charge of communication. You have to, if you want people to do the right thing all the time, not just when you're around.

My husband and I disagree about whether to give them a second chance; I say yes, because I want to support the place. He says no. But he really hates calamari.