The following is rated PG, for ‘Potentially Gross’.
Reader discretion advised.
Dominick, age 3, lined up with the other children for pre-school, morning recess. A teacher supervising the process noticed that Dominick seemed to be putting some kind of foreign object into his nose. Not good. The teacher quickly went to Dominick to thwart the activity. As she reached him, she disgustingly realized what the object was. A booger.
Yep, that’s right. Booger.
Dominick was attempting to put the gooey, glob back into his nose. He told the teacher that he didn’t know what to do with it, so was putting it back where it came from.
How many times as leaders are we like Dominick? Trying to stuff things that really should come out – back in because we don’t know what to do with them? As we move into spring cleaning season, perhaps it’s time to get rid of some ‘boogie’ behavior that can negatively impact leaders and teams. Three sticky globs instantly come to mind.
Grudges are held in business more often than we admit. Although the word does not readily pop up in a business context, it is real and prevalent in the office. For example, look at Ben and Dan. Recently, sitting in a product review meeting, Ben, the director of Customer Service discovered that if Dan, the director of Engineering had just told him about the wiring issue, his team would have saved face with their two key customers and hours of diagnostic work. Ben was furious. He quietly leaned over to the tech support manager sitting next to him and said, “That is the last time I trust Dan. I’ll get him next time. He will never get away with that again.”
No questions of Dan. No dialogue as to why Ben was not made aware of the problem.
Will anything change to avoid a situation of this kind in the future? No. This misunderstanding is now personal. A new grudge is born. A sticky, yucky grudge that will not help the company. Neither team will do their jobs better, be more productive or enhance support for their customers. A better way would have been for Ben to ask Dan why the data was not available. They could discuss how they would partner to avoid issues like this in the future and agree to hold each other and their teams accountable to really do it.
Didn’t get the promotion, choice assignment, the dream job you always imagined? The level of job description specificity in today’s cut throat, competitive market, is at an all time high. Just ask Mary, a job seeker affected by a large company layoff in Silicon Valley. Mary has a delightful personality, is highly pedigreed, and possesses all of the qualifications the hiring company desires – except the 100% industry match of all experience. So close. So disappointing. Leaders are expected to manage their own disappointments and the ones of the organizations they lead so new possibilities can emerge. Even though conditions are tough, dreams, and desires still persist and need to be encouraged.
Remember the Colonel? Harland David Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Do you remember how many times he was turned down before he sold his recipe and way of preparing chicken? 1009 times. Walt Disney was turned down to finance Disneyland 302 times before he convinced the 303rd to move ahead. It is difficult to let go of the disappointment associated with receiving a ‘no’ when we want to be in that perfect spot so much. However, focusing on disappointment just clogs up the pipe. It is a sticky gooey mess that can cloud the view of what is yet to come. Let go of the ‘no’ and focus on what the world will bring next.
Is the new product truly going to revolutionize the industry? Is the employee that you have counseled for the 8th week in a row really going to change how he interacts with the team? Is that revenue forecast genuinely accurate for the next quarter?
Best to be internally honest about what will not happen to enable focus on what can actually come to fruition. Holding onto gummy, false expectations blinds leaders and teams to what is real and possible.
Just like Dominick, it is easy to hold on to goopy messes. The glob of grudges, disappointments, and false expectations stick on us because we do not know to flick them away.
What other boogers are you trying to pack back in and are holding you back? What sticky, gooey mess is keeping you from moving forward?
After all, once you ‘flick’ away and your palm is open, you will be ready to grab onto something new.