Today was a historic day for the 900 residents of Churchill, Canada, and especially for the 13 marathoners who took part in todays first ever Polar Bear Marathon. We left for the event at 7:30am, while Churchill was still dark due to how far north it is. As we ran, many of the runners got split up. I happened to run in the rear of the pack with Albert Martens, who organized today’s event. Albert is a great friend of mine from Winnipeg and he has logged over 1 million running miles in his 32 year running career.
What was so unique about today’s event was how much I paid attention to not only what was ahead of me, but I was constantly thinking about and looking in my periphery and behind me. Polar Bears are everywhere in Churchill, and we ran a marathon right through their home. Never before in any marathon or training run was I so cognizant of what was all around me, all 360 degrees.
Then I thought to myself, “this is how great leaders look at their organization. You not only have to pay attention to what is in front of you as you drive the business forward, but too few leaders can do this and still pay careful attention to what is all around them and behind them. What do I mean behind them? What about the employees who are far removed from the C-Level leaders? Are those leaders making efforts to know what is going on with the front line people, some of who may be removed many layers down? Do they really know what is going on in the worlds of their front line mangers, some who may be very removed from the day to day activities of the C-level people?
What about customers? Many C-level leaders and CEO’s are tuned in to what is going on with their biggest and best customers. Are they tuned in to what is going on with what I call the “up and down the street customers?” Those customers who are small, don’t order that often or don’t carry a big name? Paying attention to those customers while driving the business forward is critical. How do you know know when one of those “little customers” won’t lead you to your next big account? For many businesses, they don’t because these “little customers” feel neglected, and rightly so.
In conclusion, what I experienced today in the Polar Bear marathon taught me the importance of not only driving ahead in my business, but the importance of constantly watching and being aware of what is ahead of me, in my periphery and what is behind me. Every single employee and customer must be watched and taken care of. Great leaders find a way to do this. Unfortunately many don’t understand this.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions