Give your staff your opportunity to shine

I’ve worked for bosses who took every chance to be the star of the show, including taking credit for my accomplishments. I’ve also served under a rare few who stepped aside to give me the spotlight when they could have rightfully taken it for themselves.

Recently I had the latter. While it might seem like a small experience, it meant more to me than I would have thought.

I serve on the Global Speakers Federation Leadership Council which oversees 11 international bodies of professional speakers. We meet immediately before the US’s National Speakers Association annual convention. Part of the opening ceremony is the flag procession where each GSF member countries’ presidents carry their flag through the audience of 1200 to the main stage. This ceremony is always received positively by the audience with much applause, cheering and a standing ovation.

The US president, Kristin Arnold, was previously scheduled during the rehearsal, so as one of three other US representatives on the GSF Leadership Council, I was asked to be her stand in for the rehearsal, then brief her afterwards.

Before I found Kristin to brief her, Glenna Salsbury, a former president who had been shadowing Kristin to keep her schedule on track, informed me that she’d advised Kristin that since she’d be on the main stage numerous times throughout the convention, it would be best to give someone else the opportunity to carry the flag. Since I’d done the rehearsal, that person would be me.

I was pleased, but had no idea how significant the experience would be until I was in it. As the host country, I was last in the procession. Audience members stood up when the saw their own country’s flag, or generally stood out of respect. However, when I came down the aisle, anyone left sitting immediately rose to their feet clapping and cheering.

While I’m proud of my country, I’m not prone to flag waiving. However, seeing the reaction my colleagues had to seeing their flag gave me goosebumps. I was intensely conscious of pride overwhelming me. I understood that for those brief moments I was representing my 300 million fellow Americans.

By Kristin stepping aside I had an opportunity I’d not had before. I was honored and appreciative of her being clear on how to give her spotlight to someone else.