About 5,000 people showed up at a program in India…way more people than we expected. The ushers became overwhelmed.
They had been trained to treat people respectfully but, as the crowd grew, they were treating people like cattle.
I was the #2 person in charge of the whole event, so I had to do something.
I met with the ushers and began pointing out what they were doing wrong and what they should be doing instead. Later, my supervisor asked,
“What did you say to the ushers?”
“I pointed out how they should be doing the seating,” I replied.
She inquired, “Did you ask them if they had eaten lunch?”
I was taken aback by her question. It never occurred to me. However, later I saw that the ushers were under great strain. The last thing they needed was more pressure.
What I was doing was like discovering a group of drowning people and offering them a swimming lesson. The ushers didn’t need my instruction. They needed my support. They needed me to see the situation from their point of view.
They also needed the energy that eating lunch would give them. It was a great lesson for me in “To lead is to serve.”