The buck stops here

Have you ever called in to a customer service line and, after waiting for 20 minutes just to hear someone answer the phone, tell you “I’m sorry, but I will have to transfer you to someone else?”

I was checking on some reservations for dinner earlier today because my birthday was earlier in the week and my mom’s is the day after mine, so my grandmother made reservations to celebrate with us both, but I had to change the time for the reservations. Something that seemed so simple to do ended after almost 25 minutes of running around on the phone while different departments tried finding the reservations book. This got me thinking about leadership, as most any situation does, and I remembered something from the books I have about President Truman-his famous sign stating “The buck stops here.”

Different people use the saying for different things, but as it was used by Harry Truman, it meant that with leaders, you don’t let the situation go beyond you, the decision is yours and you make it. Much like the reservation call, I don’t mind waiting for the answer, but having others try relearning what the last person had already learned about my request, only to tell it to another person after being transferred, gets old fast. When we are in charge of others, of situations, or even selling products in a retail sales position, we have to be willing to do all of the work to take care of any problem that arises and not let it slip out of our control, taking care of it ourselves. This is true if we cannot actually make a call to resolve an issue because we become responsible for finding the one that has the authority, then relaying the information.

The nonprofit organization I was in charge of was a military style organization in terms of uniforms, funding, and organizational chart of positions, but the same advice held true there, just under the name of a uniform chain of command. The idea is that people are responsible for so many others and we have to be willing to work for them in return, but always the same people. As leaders, we have to be certain the buck truly does stop here, take responsibility, and then move on to the next  problem or project.

I invite everyone to tell examples of their time spent in leadership and how they have dealt with such situations. Do you agree or disagree with the notes given here? Why or why not? I’m always looking for comments from others to continue the process of teaching leadership topics to all.


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