Monday, June 21, 2010

“Leadership” double-speak

“Aren’t leaders supposed to coach and teach?”

I’ve been authoring posts about practical leadership concepts and observations for a many years. I aim to be entertaining enough to keep your interest and educational enough that you learn. Leaders must be teachers, coaches, people developers, visionaries, risk takers, role models and decision makers.

The last point here is critical for today’s thought. Leaders must be able to make the tough decisions. There is a sensitive balance in determining whether a team member needs coaching and development or more serious action taken. Generally this is a delicate skill learned over many years. I’ve learned over time that often when I get frustrated over something not being completed to an acceptable standard, it is a teaching opportunity. What if after many missed commitments and several coaching opportunities an individual actually goes on the offense and says, “Aren’t leaders supposed to coach and teach?” This would clearly be a misinterpretation of what LiaV is about.

The risk of stating your leadership theory in public is it can then be turned back on you. It is a risk I have been willing to take.

Have your coaching words ever been taken out of context and used back on you? How did you resolve the situation?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rules of the road

Cruising North on CT Route 7 on Saturday morning was a blast (except for a little rain). Terry, Joe and I were motorcycling to the Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY. One of the benefits of a country road motorcycle ride is the time to think and reflect.

I did not solve any worldly problems, but it did occur to me that many of the rules of the road for motorcyclists are the same as those for work teammates and leaders. Here are a few of them:

- Arrive on time and ready to go.
- Know the laws and abide by them.
- Keep a safe distance between riders.
- Be prepared for the unexpected.
- Point out road hazards to those that follow you.
- Continuously monitor the situation and react accordingly.
- Be courteous and tolerant of other riders and traffic.
- Remain focused. Safety first.
- Never leave a rider behind.
- It’s all about having a good time.

If motorcycle rules of the road are so applicable to work teams, I would guess the same is true for many other team based events.

Where other than work do you gain guidance for good teamwork from?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

The big forgive

Many friends and colleagues have asked me the leadership lesson to be learned from the “imperfect game” thrown by Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga. It was clear from the video replay that veteran umpire Jim Joyce blew the call at first base causing Galarraga to miss a chance at baseball greatness by throwing a perfect game (MSF – that would be 27 consecutive outs).

The problem was I could not find the lesson. Joyce immediately stepped up and took full responsibility for the error and apologized. The media made mania out of the “theft” to no avail. Baseball’s commissioner confirmed the umpire’s field decision would not be reversed. It all seemed cut and dry until a colleague from Bangalore emailed me the ESPN phone interview with Armando Galarraga. Baseball immortality was stolen from this guy and he completely forgave the umpire and said he could have made the same error given the high level of intensity at the moment.

I can only hope to act the with the same dignity when my chance at greatest is taken from me. His maturity and ability to forgive should be a lesson for all leaders.

Have you ever made a significant error and you boss forgive you? How did you feel?


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