5 Leadership Lessons from a Poma Lift Operator

I was skiing at a family ski resort this weekend in BC. I was back at the Poma lift to learn a new technique of skiing without moving my hips and hurting my lower back. A little girl about 5 years old was scared and obviously not enjoying the skiing experience in the ski school.

Ski Lift

Here is what I learned about leadership from the Poma lift operator guy.

  1. He was caring.

In fact, he was so caring that I asked if he was her dad. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 said in the 8 Bad Mistakes That Make Good Employees Leave is “They don’t care about people”. More than half the people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain that their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the leaders who celebrate their employees’ successes, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge them, even when it hurts. Leaders who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone for eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your output.

2. He believed in her.

He actually sat right in front of her, looked her straight in the eye and said, “I have seen you do this before, and you can do it again”. Wow, what a great example of faith in her ability to succeed. He took her aside, and made a difference in her day, as well as in her skiing experience overall. Leaders must believe in their people; and tell them that you have faith in them.

3. He had her back.

She fell off the Poma lift on the way up. He stopped the lift, got on the snowmobile and helped her get back on. As Leaders, employees must be accountable for their mistakes and learn from them. However, employees must also know that if they make a mistake that you will have their back. If not, they are more likely to hide it, and this of course can lead to bigger reputations.

4. He had passion.

You could see that he truly loved helping kids become more confident skiers. As a leader, you must be passionate about helping your employees succeed as opposed to helping yourself success and excel.

5. He was authentic and real.

We generally love people who are genuine. Be yourself; find out your strengths, values and passions and own them. Authentic leaders are a joy to work for.


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