"My way or the highway” encourages honest feedback to take the off-ramp
Check it out: We kill our persuasiveness by the way we talk. Seriously, it’s the way you say it that allows you to be heard. I learned this lesson the hard way. Many years ago I served on the executive team of a faith-based multinational company. We faced a crisis in that organization—I didn’t handle it as well as I could have.
A lawyer from our organization was giving us needed information. I knew something he said was not 100% accurate. The guy wasn’t lying; he simply did not have the most up-to-date information. So, in front of the others, I blurted out, “You’re wrong.” I followed up with better information, just to show the others how smart I was. But all I did is prove how dumb I was.
What to ask yourself when you don’t know what to do
Harvard professor Joe Badaracco knows that most of the time leaders have a pretty good idea of what to do next. Their work is a matter of working with others to get it done, stick to the plan and help people to stay on task.
But then there are the other times when, as a leader, you really have no idea what to do about a specific problem. So Badaracco started studying those challenging times. His insights are captured in his book released this week: Managing in the Gray: Five Timeless Questions for Resolving Your Toughest Problems at Work.
While there is no right or wrong answer, the key is to “work through the issue like a manager, but answer like a human.” His questions won’t answer your questions… but they will give you insight and point you in the right direction. (BTW, his questions sound like they came from a university professor, so I’ve provided my interpretation.)
When you look at the trail map at the beginning of your hike, and your journey takes you on trails named Mistakes, Learning and Getting Better, you are on the correct path to the Summit of Excellence.
Your best questions address the Important, not the Urgent
We all want to work on the important things in life, but instead we get caught up in what Chris McChesney calls the whirlwind of the urgent.
Usually important items help us achieve our long-term goals, and urgent items are necessary to achieve someone else’s immediate goals.
The whirlwind of the urgent blows hard, requiring a ton of energy just to stay the course. That almost guarantees that we won’t get to our important items any time soon… unless we have a plan! These 3 questions will help.
If you're in Ohio, join us later this month!
Later this month I have the distinct privilege of speaking on the issue of TRUST, the foundation of all healthy Executive Team interactions. If you are in Ohio, I hope you can join us. If not, please check out the opportunity to join the free monthly forums!