CHAPTER 4Leadership Accountability at the Individual Level

When I was 16 years old, I got my first part-time job as a salesperson in a men’s clothing retail store. Gary was the store manager who hired me. He took a big bet on me because, back then, it wasn’t customary to employ 16-year-olds for that kind of role. The industry, at the time, was very traditional. The company’s customers were primarily professional managers and executives.

I quickly realized that Gary had high expectations for himself and our team. It was great working for him. I learned a lot from him—specifically, how to interact with customers, how to sell, and how to maintain customer relationships. These would all be skills that would serve me well throughout my career. He was a great role model. I aspired to be like Gary. One day, he pulled me aside and said, “You know I was a little nervous hiring you because you were so young. But I’m really pleased with your performance. Thanks for doing a great job.” I was so excited to receive this feedback from Gary. Now I felt even more motivated to excel further in my job.

About a year into my job, Gary got a big promotion to manage the company’s flagship store, and in came Stephen as our new store manager. Initially, he seemed like a decent person. However, as my colleagues and I got to know him, we quickly realized he was quite different from Gary. He was much more self-absorbed. He told us, “Don’t do as I do; do as I say.” I remember getting so frustrated whenever ...

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