Too Much Leading…Not Enough Doing

Another family-run business in the San Francisco Bay Area is closing. This time it’s a 39-year-old bakery with locations throughout the Bay Area. Aside from the usual narrative about the rising costs of renting commercial space in Silicon Valley, this one had another common footnote: the struggle to find, hire and retain employees.

San Francisco restaurants, in particular, are struggling to staff their businesses with cooks, waitstaff and other “back of the house” employees. These types of workers can’t make enough money to afford living in San Francisco due to exorbitant housing costs. Small businesses can’t afford to pay them a so-called “livable wage” and it’s not worth the two-hour commute from Tracy to make minimum wage washing dishes.

Gone are the days of summer jobs in small businesses and restaurants, where many high school and even college students would learn the value of work and the independence that came with earning their own money. With Facebook and Google paying interns around $7,500 a month, it’s no wonder that young people are gravitating away from these laborious jobs to technology-focused engagements. These gigs also look far more impressive on resumes and have a career path.

I find another issue that I have noticed lately is the emphasis on “leadership.” A search for the term on Amazon yields 50,000 books. From creative leadership to mindful leadership to leaders eating last, there seems to be no shortage of guides and gurus telling us how to be better leaders.

With so many people leading…who is left to be led? Who follows? Who gets the work done? Who bakes your pies, clears your dishes, restocks the grocery shelves? Who is paying attention to them, while the leaders are busy developing themselves?

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