Forget the Janitor at NASA, Andy makes people better….

“There is a famous story about President John F. Kennedy’s first visit to NASA’s headquarters back in 1961. While touring the facility, the President’s entourage reportedly came upon a man mopping the floor in one of the hallways. The President stopped to chat with the man, shook his hand, and asked what he did at NASA. The janitor proudly addressed the young President by saying, “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!” ”

It was our monthly staff indiction this week. I open each of these sessions with new starters to the trust and discuss Vision, Values and Leadership. I ask three simple questions during my half hour slot, giving everyone in the room a minute to discuss the question with their neighbour. We get some great answers from the 30 to 40 people present. The mix of professions, roles and services – from prison pharmacists to community counsellors, rehabilitation consultants to community healthcare support workers, office receptionists to graphic designers – always makes it real. I ask:

Why do you do your job?

What Does High Quality Care mean to you

What’s the best thing that has happened to you this week?

You should try it, in your teams, at least once a month. The answers will reconnect you with purpose, energise you and remind you of the impact you have every day.

And the best thing that has happened to me this week? Was an answer to that first question. One of our HR team was my neighbour. Andy – why do you do your job?

“To make a difference to the people of Leeds. Because I am part of the recruitment team and we make sure we employ the best people, quickly. So, indirectly I make people better. And being from Leeds, that matters to me.”


So it not only “janitors at NASA who put men on the moon”. We call it Leading from Every Seat. More on that in my next blog – because we have it. In spades.

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