Shep Hyken

By Shep Hyken

What Leaders Do When No One Else is Looking – The Right Thing

What Leaders Do When No One Else is Looking – The Right Thing 150 150 Shep Hyken

Leaders can be found everywhere when it comes to providing outstanding customer service; everyone can be a leader. What do we mean by ‘leader’? As the leader, you simply do the right thing. Why? Because you know it’s the right thing to do! Others will then notice and admire you, and you’ll find that they may even want to emulate you. With that in mind, the two stories I’m about to share aren’t really as much about customer service (although they could be) as they are about demonstrating the characteristics and traits that can make you a leader. Both examples come from the sporting world, one involves a famous athlete, the other a not-so-famous non-athlete.

Consider the first example. I was recently a guest at a customer appreciation event for long-time season ticket holders of the St. Louis Blues hockey organization. The event was held at a beautiful venue graced with granite floors and amazing artwork. And, of course, there was plenty for us guests to eat and drink. As I entered the venue, I noticed my former salesperson, Kevin Parker, who was recently promoted to a management position. Now, Kevin has always impressed me, because he consistently demonstrates the qualities of a leader. After a quick hello and conversation with Kevin, lured by the delicious aromas, I sauntered over to check out the food line. But, just before I was able to get to the line, whoops, I slipped on a wet spot on the floor!  I found out in a hurry that water and fancy granite floors just don’t seem to mix. I didn’t fall; I lost my balance just for a moment.

Two servers from the venue were standing near where I slipped. The servers nodded and smiled at me. I smiled back, to reassure them that I was indeed okay. What did they do next? Nothing! I thought one of the servers might dash over, grab one of the many napkins on the buffet table and make that wet spot on the floor instantly vanish, but neither of them did. So I began to walk over to the buffet table to grab a bunch of napkins to simply do it myself. However, I noticed that someone else had already beat me to it. Who? None other than Kevin, my former salesperson.  Before I could take a solid step, he had already grabbed a napkin off another table and was bent over, soaking up the water from the floor so that somebody else might be spared a fate even worse than mine.

As you can imagine, wiping up the floor wasn’t a big deal, but neither was it part of Kevin’s job description, it was simply the right thing to do. So he did it. That’s why he’s making moves in the organization. Kevin is a leader because he inherently knows what is right, and even more importantly, he acts on it.

The second example involves Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys. You may know Dak as the rookie quarterback who recently led his team to the NFL playoffs. In an earlier, regular season game, he missed a throw that caught the attention of millions. He won the game anyway, but this particular throw wasn’t even on the field. This throw was on the sidelines. Dak tossed an empty cup toward a trash can . . . and he missed. What did he do next? Like Kevin Parker, Dak Prescott took action. He went over and picked up the trash and put it in the can.

You may ask, so what’s the big deal? Well, if you watch many of the other big-time players, after drinking from paper cups, rather than throw them in a trash can, they simply thoughtlessly toss them on the ground. Someone else who may be making millions of dollars less than they are, one of the trainers, is then required to pick up after them. But not Dak Prescott. Dak does the right thing. This has led some both inside and outside of the Cowboys organization to conclude that this guy is not only a great athlete on the field, but also is a great person off the field, who also possesses the characteristics and traits of a leader. senior writer, Arash Markazi, caught Dak’s errant throw to the trash can and posted the video on Twitter with the message:

Hundreds of tweets about Dak’s trash include comments like this:

Yes, wiping up a spill or picking up trash may seem like such little things, but they can be metaphors for qualities much bigger than either act. Leaders know that the little things matter. They don’t even think before taking care of them. And they don’t even care if anyone is watching what they do. They just do what’s right. That’s what Kevin Parker and Dak Prescott did. That’s what you’ll find true leaders do. And, that’s what you’ll find true customer service leaders do, too!

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken