I first met Sunil during my first firewalk seminar in Vizag (Visakhapatnam, India). He was a Senior Manager at a 5-star hotel, where the workshop was held. He was responsible for handling the entire event for us. Let me tell you something about the ‘behind the scenes’ work – a firewalk setup for 100 participants isn’t a cakewalk, especially in a city where we faced a language challenge, tight timelines, and lengthy road travel. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we did have an outstanding firewalk that belittled the challenges we faced before. It was such a great feeling to see those 100 firewalkers, beaming with confidence. All is well that ends well. The credit for this successful firewalk goes to the most supportive and extremely efficient team of Sunil.
Let me fast forward the story to a couple of months after the workshop. Here I was in Vizag again, for another firewalk workshop. This time, it was for 400 participants at a different hotel. Before I could even leave my city, I was a little worried about the whole setup since a busy stretch didn’t allow our team to travel early, as we usually do. And, we needed to arrange tons of things in a limited time frame. To ease the mental burden, I called up Sunil yet again. During the call, I got to know that he has left his job and opened up his own restaurant. “But you don’t worry and just give me a call when you land,” he said. Whatever happened after that is an unforgettable experience for me.
Just after 15 minutes from the time I checked into my room, I heard my doorbell ringing. It was Sunil! To my surprise, he had a list of things to arrange that I shared with him a long time back. To take my surprise to the next level, he shared that he had already spoken to a couple of vendors about the required material. Sunil even finished his work and kept half a day free for us. All that we needed to do was to go to the market and check the material we needed. Just before we even thought about transportation, I received a call from a driver telling us that he is readily available if we need his assistance. The driver told me that Sunil had briefed him about the places we might visit.
We budgeted one and a half days for procuring the material. With Sunil’s magic, we ended up arranging everything within a few hours. That’s not all; on the workshop day we needed a couple of local people to help us out with some work. We asked Sunil if he could send a few college goers to our hotel at 8:00 am on the next day.
At 7:58 am, I received a call from him saying, “Sir, the boys are waiting for you in the lobby.” When our team went down to escort them, they found those ‘boys’ were also accompanied by Sunil. When I asked Sunil why is he leaving his work again, he said, “I wasn’t sure if these guys will be able to understand your language/work. So, I thought I would stay here for sometime and help them out to ensure that your program doesn’t suffer.”
I was stunned seeing his commitment. But soon after this, my rational mind started asking why a person who is successfully running a business helping us out so much. I wasn’t surprised at all when my fellow coach raised the same question. We decided to ask Sunil the main reason behind this outstanding support. When we asked him, he just smiled and said, “You have given me your trust with genuine authority, I am just trying to live up to that.”
Now we understood his real motivation behind all the support. We also understood why his previous team was so efficient and professional in their work.
A team doesn’t do what a manager says – it does what the leader does! In The Leadership Challenge workshops, we always talk about the importance of modeling the way. When leaders walk the talk, they inspire a whole generation of upcoming leaders. And here we saw a live example of this.
Thank you Sunil for showing us the true meaning of ownership, commitment, and passion. You are certainly inspiring everyone around you, including me! Keep it up.