Leaders get to say NO

Leaders get to say “No”. I don’t like to use this tool very often but this week I find myself with no other alternative.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I let the disciple, the leader in training learn from their mistakes. The leadership lessons we learn from our mistakes stay with us for the rest of our lives. I justify this stance by realizing that I know a lot but I don’t know everything. So when a disciple presents an idea or a direction which makes me pause but they are passionate and believe in the concept I’m willing to let them run with the idea. I like to encourage as it builds confidence in the disciple. Mind you I’m constantly monitoring the progress and outcomes.

Even as I write this post I recognize my hesitancy to deal with the “No”. When a colleague, friend or disciple is engaging in poor judgment or manipulative behaviour to accomplish a task it is my job to say “No”. If others are being discouraged or the organization is put in harm’s way by the disciple’s misplaced exuberance it is my job to say “Stop”.

I do my utmost to a.) Check my frustration at the door because I do want to salvage the relationship with the disciple if at all possible and b.) Measure my words so that I’m not scolding the disciple but instead giving them new insight into their actions.

 Too often I procrastinate hoping and praying that the disciple will figure it out on their own…BUT in the end I still have to say “No”. It’s what leaders get to do.

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“You Farted”

It happened at the grocery store. I thought I was being discreet and subtle as I went about purchasing a few items in the fresh produce aisle. But alas the ears of a four year old boy were not fooled by my cool misdemeanour. The tyke’s grin could not have been broader as he pointed and giggled his accusation, “You farted!”

Now, the next few seconds are delicate ones for a leader caught in the act of a minor indiscretion. Responses can range from ignore the incorrigible in your midst through frown disapprovingly, excuse yourself, laugh along, to deny, deny, deny. None of these responses are right or wrong except perhaps the last one but on the whole these surprise encounters in the day do reflect our moods, mindsets and worldviews.

Leaders are not saints so we know that we will make mistakes. Others around us are watching how we deal with mistakes both small and large. Leaders get to set the example even when they are not in a leadership situation; even in the grocery store.

This doesn’t have to be your response but I find a little self-depreciating humour goes a long ways to get me through the day. Not everything can be a laughing matter but my colleagues know that I make mistakes and that I’m willing to own them.

So what are you going to do the next time you are caught in the act of a minor indiscretion or one of those less than saintly little mistakes that occur throughout everyone’s day? – BB