Lessons from the Leader of DART Mobility Services

via Bill Peel
March 6th, 2019

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is a big deal in North Texas. DART conducts over 65 million passenger trips a year, and almost a million of those trips involve people with disabilities.  

Doug Douglas is Vice President of Mobility Management Services for DART. Doug and his team are responsible for getting Persons with Disabilities to where they need to go. They serve the people of Dallas and 12 surrounding cities via Light Rail, Trinity Railway Express commuter rail, bus routes and paratransit services that cover a service area of over 700-square-miles. No small task.

When I toured Doug's office, I was amazed at the scope of the services his team provides, but something else amazed me even more: Doug introduced me to over 30 of the 53 individuals who work directly for him and were in the office when I visited. He not only introduced employees by name, he also explained the capacity in which they serve and often mentioned an interesting fact about them. Along the tour, I made notes about the people and Doug's leadership style. It was evident by his teams' facial expressions that they know their boss sincerely cares about them. 

I often struggle to remember names, so I felt convicted and curious about how a busy guy like Doug--who holds a key position at DART and serves on the board of many organizations, including the Board of Trustees at LeTourneau University--can remember people's names and details about their lives. When I asked Doug how he does this, he said, "Remembering names is a way I show people I care--it's something I've always tried to do." He explained that he wants to exemplify Christ to the people he works with and for, and a way he does this is by really getting to know them--not just their names but also significant aspects of their lives, their interests, their families, their joys and pains, so he can share in life with them. His sincere concern has opened doors for spiritual conversations at their invitation.

As a Christian in public service, Doug isn't shy about naming Christ as his Lord, but says he strives to be wise. "I'm a man under authority, and I am very intentional about respecting authority," He prays before meals and keeps a devotion book on his desk, and when he discerns openness and interest in people, he speaks openly about God.

He commented on how people notice when an the actions of outspoken Christians don't match their words. Even people who have never expressed spiritual interest are quick to describe unkind words or actions as "not very Christlike."

Doug said he learned his leadership approach from his parents who modeled sincere care for people--his mother as a public school teacher and his father as a longshoreman working on the docks in Houston. He noticed that they always called people by name and treated them with respect.

When it comes to meeting new people, I asked Doug if he had any tips for those of us who struggle to remember names. He offered two strategies and one overriding prerequisite:

Strategy 1: "I try to say their name three times in the conversation."

Strategy 2: "I try to associate their name with something familiar."

The Overriding Prerequisite: "I have to care about the person I'm meeting."

I'm asking God to help me practice these wise words from a wise man.  

How well do you remember names? I would love to hear your comments and any strategies you've found effective. 

Image courtesy of Dallas Area Rapid Transit