You never know the impact you have as a leader!

I was twenty nine years old and appointed as the Community Manager of RBC in Whitby, Ontario. A growing market east of Toronto, with mature and very tenured staff.

On my first day, one of my account managers introduced herself to me and said, “I’ve been with RBC longer than you’ve been alive!”

I was a bit taken aback and unsure what she meant by her statement. Was it a challenge of my leadership, or an opportunity to learn more about her?

We talked often over the following months. Mostly her challenging me, sometimes in public, but I never took it personally. She had a lot of experience, and while I could have taken offense, I didn’t.

From our conversations I learned she wanted to become a financial planner, which was great, and aligned with my experience having come from a role as a manager of a financial planning team. So we connected on this shared interest.

Our relationship grew over time. Trust was built. Value was seen. A connection was developed. I met her husband, and her son and daughter. She met my new born son, and like she did with ever baby who entered the branch, she took him from me and carried him around and introduced him to the team. This was the type of loving lady she was.

Then after a few years I moved on to a new job.

Years later I got a call. This special lady, community leader, wife, and mother of two, had passed away. I’d heard she was ill, but was still shocked.

Then another unexpected call. The family asked me to deliver a eulogy to reflect her long tenure with RBC. I was surprised and honored, but confused. Why me?  I knew her for 3 years. We didn’t always see eye to eye. I hadn’t seen her in years. Many knew her better, longer, were more senior to me. So why did they ask me?

Nonetheless I was honoured to be asked and accepted the responsibility of sharing her RBC story.

I sat in my basement writing her eulogy. Laughing. Crying. But honored I was asked. More and more every minute. I came to appreciate that through our interactions I had impacted a life, and a family.

On the day of her funeral I was nervous, but ready to share. The churched was packed, the pews and even the balcony filled. I was called up to speak and found the sharing of my thoughts was surreal, and probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. But it felt so right and became easier with each word I spoke.

Afterwards her husband reached out asking if I could I share the eulogy. The words. The stories. The impact this lady had on me, our staff, and our clients.

It was then that I realized I truly made a difference. With this lady. With her family.

It was at that moment I understood the true impact of being a leader!

Leave A Comment