Yesterday, I witnessed two co-founders interviewing a job candidate. At one point, while the candidate was speaking, I saw one founder scrolling on his smartphone. Several minutes later, he handed it to his co-founder.
Surprised (if not shocked), I went into speculation mode: Did they not want to hire the guy? Were they testing him? Were they expecting a really important email? Had they found something online about the candidate that was important to share right then?
Then I realized it didn’t matter. None of those situations justified the lack of empathy that took place at that moment. And even if the moment could be justified, the mere perception of it had its own implications.
What if a current employee walked by and saw what was happening? What if the candidate took to social media (or sites like GlassDoor.com) after the interview and shared his experience? What if the candidate is offered the job and he turns it down because of that small moment?
True leadership develops over time. True leadership develops over an accumulation of small moments.