Alonzo Fields, served as a butler in the White House from 21 years – from 1932-53. For many of those years he served as the Chief Butler. According to the Truman Library website,
“The job of Chief Butler meant that Fields was responsible for keeping track of all White House tablecloths, napkins, silverware, glassware, and china. Also, he made menu suggestions for important state dinners, receptions, teas, and family dinners to be approved by the First Lady. He supervised the chefs and servers. He had to be prepared to serve many people with little advance notice. He had to learn what would and would not please each president and his family.”
In his out of print book, My 21 years in the White House. New York: Coward-McCann, 1960.Fields said that of all the Presidents he
served under, Harry Truman was the only one who took the trouble
to understand him as a person.
When asked about it, former President Truman said, “I’ve never understood how to do anything else except try to understand the other fellow. Whenever I’m in Boston, Fields comes up to my hotel, and we have a long talk.
You see, the thing you have to remember, when you get to be President, there are all those things, the honors, the 21 gun salutes, all those things, you have to remember it isn’t for you. It’s for the Presidency, and you’ve
got to keep yourself separate from that in your mind. If you can’t keep the two separate, yourself and the Presidency, you’re in all kinds of trouble.”
The “stuff” that comes with your leadership role probably doesn’t include 21 gun salutes, and the like, but regardless of your position, there are events, situations and things that come with the role. President Truman’s point is important for all of us as leaders.
It is a matter of perspective; and this message reminds us to be real, be authentic, and to not get lost in the extra benefits that may come from your leadership role.
Keeping this in mind will make you a more effective, balanced and productive leader. It will help you now to get valuable things accomplished, and it will help you make a more lasting difference on the people you work with and lead.