Our Friend Matt Kosec, from Celebration Restaurant, shares with us:
The notion of interdependence could not have better expressed than in an excerpt from a 2013 email Ann sent me:
“Would you ponder our relationship and see what comes up for you? I will do the same…I see our work as very two-way with no hierarchy. There are times when my experience can be helpful and times when your perspective opens my eyes. I sense that you feel safe challenging me and do so graciously and with deep commitment to help me see what I don’t see or realize. I really like the freedom we both have to experiment and be creative. There is an open flow of possibilities between us that just keeps growing and opening up.”
When the aspiring servant leader challenges themselves with the notion of building a living legacy, and an organization where interdependence thrives, it can seem overwhelming. Creating interdependence does not absolve the servant leader from the daily grind of organizational life. I want every Partner at Celebration to feel trusted, empowered, and committed to exceeding every guest’s expectations. But that doesn’t grant me freedom from responding to emails, planning the schedule and menu for the next big holiday, or holding a Partner accountable with discipline.
Fostering servant leadership in an organization can feel like yet another added task. Setting a living legacy of servant leadership aside as a task that you’ll get to when you have time, though, only affirms the dependence upon the top leader as the hero or villain. The vicious co-dependence and inability to respond to complex and ever changing challenges will continue, and assuredly the wished-for time will never arrive.
Ann McGee-Cooper’s legacy again reveals to me how this is possible while looking upward at the relentless onslaught of daily organizational life. She seized the little opportunities. Ann and I never had a grand plan for interdependence or mentorship. Rarely did the most powerful moments come from planned “mentorship” sessions. To say Ann was “busy” would be an understatement, yet I know that I’m not the only one she touched in this way.
It started when I was at the Carrollton Police Department, following an SLLC® session we hosted. I was standing on a chair, taking down one of Ann’s infamous servant leadership quote posters, and she walked up and said, “Matt, I’m curious about you and I think we could learn from each other. Could we talk on the phone sometime?” A few weeks later we had a 15 minute phone call. We didn’t email often, but when we did, it was powerful: The six sentences she sent me changed my life forever. We all have the capacity to lead others in these concise and meaningful ways. Ann knew how important it was and how to seize it.
I wish this dawned on me through my own personal reflection since Ann has passed away, but it didn’t. It came through a third grade school assignment from my nine year old daughter, Guerin. It was only moments from when I pulled it from her school folder that I was weeping. I wish that Guerin had spent a great deal of time with Ann, but the reality is she only saw Ann about four times. And those times were very brief. I was shocked to realize Guerin’s loss. I still remain amazed at how Ann could connect so deeply, so quickly, with so many people. Each of us has this capacity and it can be our primary tool to rise above busyness and build interdependence in our organizations.
Guerin Kosec is a 4th Grader at Homestead Elementary in Carrollton, Texas. Guerin visited Ann with her dad, Matt Kosec. Guerin loves to swim and searching for creative DIY crafts. At this current moment, when she grows up she wants to be an artist.