The talk

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure. Proverbs 11:14

“Have a great rest of your day,” Mark said, seeing off the last customers of the day.  He locked the front door behind him and unbuttoned the top of his shirt.

Samuel emerged from the back office with a bottled beer in hand.

“Whoa, there’s a sight you don’t see often,” Mark said, causing Ruth to stop working and look up at Samuel.  “Aren’t you leaving soon?”

“Nope,” he said, “Ruth said she wanted to talk with us. So here I am.”

“Us?” Mark replied.

“Yes, both of you,” Ruth said, coming around the end of the counter.  “This won’t take long, boys. Come over here and sit.”

They joined Ruth at one end of the large, mahogany table she had picked out several years ago specifically for the bank.  For some reason, Mark began to feel nervous.  Ruth had said earlier she was worried about him and wanted to talk with him more.  He had no clue she also wanted to talk with Samuel, too.  They both sat silently.  It was a scene reminiscent of grade school.

“First off, I love you both.  You know that,” she began.  “Mark, I’ve been meaning to talk to you for quite some time about this.  I’ve prayed about it, and now is the time.”

“You’re quitting,” Mark said.  “I did not see this coming at all.”

“No, I’m not quitting,” she said.  “Now be quiet and let me speak.”

Samuel sat quietly, spinning his bottle slowly on the table, avoiding eye contact with either of them.  He knew what was coming.

“Okay, I’m sorry.  Go on,” Mark said.

Ruth took a deep breath, and then in a most calm tone, she spoke.

“Mark, you’re going to lose Sarah.”

Sam abruptly stopped spinning the bottle.

“What are you talking about?” Mark said, anger building.

“Listen to her,” Samuel blurted out.  “I’ve tried talking to you, but…”

“No, I’m not going to listen.” Mark said, pushing away from the table and jumping to his feet.  “You all don’t know anything about anything.”

Mark caught a glimpse of Ruth’s face, and as quickly as the anger came on, it left.  Ruth was now wiping tears from her cheeks.  Mark stopped talking.  Samuel was now looking at him.

Mark sat back down.  He knew he couldn’t avoid this topic any longer.

“Okay, Mrs. Adams,” Mark said.  “Let’s do this.”


While people attempt to separate their personal and professional lives, it’s not possible.  Smart leaders recognize this and work to get to know and build trust with their teams.  This way the leader has a better shot at recognizing when something may be wrong with a team member and the team member feels comfortable enough to talk with their leader about it.  In this case, Ruth is the leader. It goes both ways.

As a leader, do you know your team well enough to recognize when a member may be struggling with something? 

As a follower, could you do what Ruth just did?


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