Recently, I’ve been thinking about my grandmother quite a bit. Esther Tune was an amazing lady. She was a single parent who outlived two husbands. She worked in the medical field, although I can’t really tell you what she did. I do know she spent a year serving on the hospital ship USS Hope in Jamaica. She traveled as often as she could – either by herself or with others. For most of my life, Esther – or Grammy as she was known to literally everyone – drove a bright orange Karmen Ghia with a big stuffed tiger sitting in the backseat. That’s who she was – a tiger, but a soft one. Grammy passed away several years ago, a month before her 102nd birthday.
When Grammy spoke, we all listened. Grammy was wise. Whatever she said was worth hearing. She wasn’t one to tell you what you wanted to hear, but she would certainly tell you what you needed to hear. Grammy believed in the people around her and, because of her, they believed in themselves. She knew how to motivate people toward success. I can’t wasn’t in her vocabulary.
But what does all this have to do with leadership? Grammy wasn’t college educated. She wasn’t a CEO or Manager of a multi-million dollar corporation. Yet, she was definitely the leader of our family. Grammy never led a corporation or a division or even a team. She led our family. And, we followed – willingly. We trusted this woman – her strength, her character, and her wisdom. Wherever she was going, we knew wanted to be there. The road might be rocky. But it would definitely be an adventure worth taking. And there would be growth at the end.
Good leaders know how to develop their followers into people beyond their own dreams. Grammy was authentic, inspirational, confident, and certainly visionary. These traits were passed along to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. None that knew her were ever the same.
Grammy was born into a different era. She never had a chance to go to college or get her doctorate. Nor will she ever see me receive mine. Her presence is here though – every day. She inspires the leader I will become. This one’s for you Grammy!