As leaders, every so often one of your team members asks you an honest question that makes you stop in your tracks and reconsider exactly what messages you are sending. Most of our LiaV community knows that I recently accepted a new executive assignment on the East Coast. It’s a great chance to use all I’ve learned in the last 30 years of aerospace manufacturing, supply chain and program management.
I arrived on the scene asking many questions, listening, meeting people and internalizing what I was hearing. These are all the things we talk about so often. After a fair amount of time, I came to conclusions of what was needed and started to point a vector in that direction. While we worked hard to find and deploy tools and processes, I also talked about the journey we are about to start. Progress was slow, but acceptable. That was until one of my long-time leaders, Tim, walked into my office very frustrated and said, “John, we understand that you are here to take us to some new place and we accept that, but can you just tell us what you expect from us?”
In a flash, it occurred to me that I was working hard within the organization on the detailed mechanics and with the leaders on the vision, but I was not as clear as I could be on what I expected differently on a day-to-day basis. It was an easy thing to correct by writing out some top-level expectations and having a team discussion. Thank goodness I took the time to build trust with Tim early so he knew he could share his frustration without risk.
Have you ever been “leading” so fast and hard that when you looked back, the team was not as close behind you as you thought? What did you do?