Byron's Babbles

Feeling Your Leadership “Vibe”


Sophie and I w/the Pear Tart

I had the honor and incredible pleasure of going out to eat this evening with my fellow National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) board of directors. We went to Seven Lamps in Atlanta, Georgia. Seven Lamps has an awesome selection of craft food and drinks. The restaurant’s unique name comes from a book length essay, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, by English art critic John Ruskin. The “lamps” refer to the seven principles of architecture: sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory and obedience. That essay alone will turn into a complete other study for me.


Those who know me know that I love it when our server enjoys and wants to pick the meal. Well, let me tell you, Sophie was just that kind of server. When I pushed the menu away, and asked Sophie if she would just do the picking her whole face lit up and I knew we were in for a treat. She said, “Byron (she had already figured out my name and was using it), I am feeling your ‘vibe’.” Lobster roll and shrimp for appetizer, Salmon for the main course, and pear tart for dessert. Yep, she was feeling my “vibe”! It was awesome!

IMG_1206Now, the food was incredible and Chef Drew Van Leuvan is stellar, but bottom line is it was Sophie who made the evening complete with her ability to feel the “vibe”. I know I have blogged about this before, but I believe how a server handles doing what Sophie did tonight – picking everyone’s meals for them – is a sign of great technical skill and leadership. She clearly knew every dish, drink, appetizer, dessert, and whatever else on the menu inside and out. She had clearly tried everything and knew the intimate taste, cooking method, and ingredients of each. Clearly, Seven Lamps creates an environment where the team members get the technical knowledge to truly server their customers. This was the first key to Sophie’s success.

IMG_1207Then, Sophie exhibited great leadership by accepting the responsibility and risk, with enthusiasm I might add, of picking our meals for us. It is amazing to me how many times I have done this and I have never had a choice made for me that I did not like. Sophie explained how each dish was prepared and even brought others in different roles in the restaurant over for us to meet. I’ve heard it said, “If you want to flourish, choose how you show up.” Sophie showed up tonight to flourish, and I can guarantee you she shows up every night to flourish.

Our inner thoughts and attitudes radiate through facial expressions, body language, tone, and language.This would be our “vibe”. Sophie was giving off the “vibe” that told me that she believed these things about herself:

  1. I showed up to serve
  2. I am glad to be here
  3. I am having fun
  4. I am competent and knowledgeable
  5. I am making a difference
  6. I do a good job

She was giving off a pretty good “vibe”, don’t you think? What “vibe” do you give off to those you lead?

IMG_1211I did have to ask Sophie what “vibes” I was giving off. She explained that she was picking up that I was curious, adventuresome, and ready to try and learn about something new. Guilty! She could not have gotten my “vibe” any more correct. And…what better place to practice being curious, adventuresome, and ready to try and learn something new than in a restaurant you’ve never been to in a city 567 miles from home? The key is to align our behaviors with the “vibe” we want to send.

IMG_1208Tonight at Seven Lamps I learned from Sophie that understanding our own “vibe” and the “vibe” of those we serve allows us to be greater, more effective leaders. We need to keep learning more about ourselves and others. We need to keep trying new things. Finally, we need to keep honing and combining our passions with our skills – this will empower and maximize our potential.



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