The title on his business card said “Executive President – Asia Pacific.” It was quite intimidating for us, the three young visitors.
For me, it was the first time I had a meeting with a client in which I met the top man himself. No subordinates present, just us and the man. From what the title sounded, he’s not only the boss for the country, but also for the entire Asia-Pacific operation of the company. It did carry a lot of weight.
The broad forehead gave him the appearance of a scientist or an academic faculty member, instead of a corporate executive. His tall build, broad shoulder and tanned demeanor immediately commanded respect. He was there strictly for business.
“I assume you would like an introduction about our company,” I said, several handshakes, introductions and business card exchanges later. He nodded, and I quickly turned my 10.1-inch netbook to face him. I already loaded my presentation, and I meant to present it right from the device.
“Wait, you’ll need a projector,” he said, standing up. I thought he was going reach for the phone and call someone to get it.
Instead, he walked up to a sideboard cabinet, opened a drawer, and pulled up a small, black bag. He then proceeded to put the bag on the table, unzipped it, and took a small projector, about the size of a standard Bible. Without a word, he began to connect cables into it.
We were taken by surprise. It was an awkward moment. Should we help him, or not? It was apparent that he was the hands-on type of guy who didn’t mind doing all the work if needed, regardless of his title.
“It’s.. It’s the smallest projector I’ve ever seen..” I blurted weakly. But he didn’t seem to notice. He handed one end of the VGA cable for me to attach to my netbook. No time for small, insignificant talk. It was time to get the show on the road.
It was a no-nonsense meeting. Unlike interactions with fellow Indonesians, this one proceeded seriously. He listened to my presentation, asked questions, and he in turn explained what he wanted.
He had a clear idea what he wanted to see and what he wanted us to do. He knew the kind of people he believed to be capable of giving him the results he was looking for. No doubt, no nonsense. He chose to meet us ourselves instead of delegating the task so he could be sure that we got it fresh and direct from him.
In an hour, the meeting was concluded.
There was much to learn from the experience.
1. Being the boss sometimes mean you have to get down, get your hand dirty and do the job to be sure that it gets done right. Delegation is important, but there are things that you have to do it yourself to get it right.
2. Title is just a title. It shouldn’t stop you from doing what needs to be done. Goal oriented action is more important than your job description.
3. Knowing what you want, where you are going, and taking the necessary action to move towards that direction is what leadership is all about. Planning, organizing, directing, and the rest of management are just tools.
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