“He needs to have better control over what his people are producing!” said the exasperated executive at the other end of the phone. “I don’t know why he would think it was okay to put his team member up there to make a presentation when clearly the man wasn’t prepared. The presentation and report were in the completely wrong format. It was over before he even started. What kind of manager does that?”
The manager in question, who I debriefed in a separate call, was equally distressed. “I don’t understand why [the executive] insists that we lead by example, empower our people to make more decisions and operate with more confidence, and then plows us down when we let them and they struggle! I mean, isn’t that what growth and development are all about? How is my team supposed to learn from their mistakes if I don’t let them own them? Besides, [the executive] said he hadn’t even read the report my team member prepared! It just wasn’t in the format he was expecting, so he blew up.”
Both parties, the executive and the manager, were equally frustrated and exasperated by the other’s behavior. Each one felt as though they were doing what they were supposed to do. The executive was expecting a report done in a certain format, and was frustrated when it didn’t arrive that way. The manager was trying to lead by example and empower his team members to grow in confidence and skill, and was frustrated when the executive didn’t give them a chance to prove themselves.
Can you be courageous enough in your leadership to exercise your values? If your goal is to give the people under you room to grow, do you have what it takes to stand back and let them? Growth doesn’t happen through osmosis. It happens by trial and error, taking risks, and making mistakes. But everyone needs the chance to make those critical mistakes in order to have the invaluable experience of learning from them.
By the same token, can you be courageous enough in your leadership to take responsibility at all times for your choices and behavior? Do you seek clarity when you aren’t sure, or do you hazard a guess? Are you allocating your time wisely in accordance with the priorities of your organization? Are you engaging, even during difficult situations, or are you sitting silent, waiting for the storm to pass? Do you look for the opportunities to speak truth (in the most respectful way possible) back to the powers that be when necessary?
Every person has a set of values which guides their life in principle. One of the everyday challenges we face is how we choose to use that set of values to guide our decisions and our actions. It is pretty easy to live out our values when things are calm and going well. It takes enormous courage to live out our values when there is tension, conflict, or a difference of opinion. Can you name your values? How do you live them out in your everyday life? What will you do to act with more courage? We’d love to hear from you—leave us a comment!