October 5

Getting to the Airport Faster | WT #22


When I returned my rental car to the airport during a recent trip, I was approached by a man in a bright yellow vest.

He introduced himself as Jesse, informed me he worked for the rental car company, and asked if he could take me to the terminal in the car I had just returned.

I looked up and noticed the airport shuttle bus was not there, so I accepted his offer.

On our short drive to the terminal, Jesse, a rather outgoing person and visibly energized by giving me a ride, volunteered that his main job was overseeing car preparation. He had been given this additional role to play whenever his workload was slow, and he really enjoyed it.

Jesse’s additional role was a growth opportunity for him, as it gave him the chance to do something he was naturally talented at (positively engaging others), while also improving the rental car company’s value proposition by getting me to the airport terminal faster.

The lesson I tool from my time with Jesse: If you want to help someone grow, you needn’t do it vertically through promotion; you can double the possibilities by also growing them horizontally – matching their talents with new roles and tasks.

And when it’s done right, giving someone the opportunity to use their talents feels like a promotion. Just ask Jesse.

About the author 

Darren Smith

Darren Smith is Co-Founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Dallas Jesuit and Texas A&M University. Over the past 25 years, Darren has visited 35 countries and led 100 strategy programs. He and his wife have five children.


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