Man Changing Diaper in Hard Hat, Gloves and TongsYesterday, our youngest son (2 month old Gabriel) had a “blow out”. You parents know what I mean and the rest can probably figure it out from the title. It was a mess. By the way, if you’re eating while you read this, you may want to come back later….

Getting Your Hands Dirty

The Martin Luther King Family

The Martin Luther King Family

While scrubbing the dirty onesie, I found myself contemplating a key business decision. Looking down at my hands, covered in soap suds and… well… baby poop, I had to chuckle. I wondered how many times famous father-leaders like Abraham LincolnMartin Luther KingWinston Churchill and others had to clean soiled baby clothes? This experience, it occurred to me, was a very humbling activity.

Humility and Priorities

Following someone who has cleaned messy diapers tells you something about that leader. It goes beyond the old saying, “they put their pants on the same way we do – one leg at a time”.  This shows their humility and priorities. It shows that the multi-million dollar deal they’re negotiating or the global team they lead is important, but at the end of the day, they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty – really dirty – for what is important.

To the world you might be just one person, but to one person you might be the world. (unknown)

Identifying the Poop Cleaners

Convinced that leaders who clean the poop from their kids’ diapers may be the kind of leader you want to follow? Here’s how you can identify some of them:

1. Family Calls: Leaders who prioritize family are not afraid to take calls from them during the day. If the individual steps out of meetings to take a family call, chances are, they’ve cleaned the poop.

2. Firm Departure Times: A friend and colleague of mine leaves every day at 5 PM, firm. Now, certainly, in the time of a crisis, you must be able to count on the leader, but as a general policy, poop cleaners often have scheduled departure times.

3. Family Appointments: The poop-cleaner often needs to schedule meetings around doctor and dentist appointments, school meetings and student activities. This is especially true if the individual comes from a household where both parents work outside of the home.

So the next time you see these activities from someone at the office, do not be concerned. Chances are that person is a poop cleaner. And, after all, cleaning baby poop helps make great leaders.

Question: What about you? Do you clean baby poop or follow someone who does?