Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sometimes leaders do have the answer

It was getting late Friday afternoon and time to go home. That’s when Jamal stepped into my office and asked if it was ok to close the door. Jamal is a hard working young professional that has a lot of promise. Unfortunately, he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

After beating around the bush for what seemed like forever, he shared what was bothering him. He said the situation was keeping him up at night and making him ill. Without going into too much detail, his challenge was one of being pursued by multiple managers while balancing loyalty to his home department. There more details. Once I had the pertinent facts, the answer and approach Jamal had to take was clear. Of course, clear to me given 30 years of organizational experience. “Great performers get choices and other may not.” I explained to him how I would handle the situation to maximize everyone’s satisfaction. You could see the weight removed. It is true, sometimes leaders do have the answer and they must simply share it. I wondered as I drove home, what Jamal would have done this weekend had I not been available or had not taken the time to talk.

As a leader, do you give direct and unambiguous opinion when appropriate? Do you tell it straight even when it may not be what someone wants to hear


Balu said...

I normally try to work out options for the situation or the problem and then let them make thier choice. However if they are unable to make a choice then I may suggest.

However for operational problems I offer my opinion and sometimes my decision to back them up.

Jarrett said...

It really depends on the situation. I feel the direct "tell them how it is" approach is definitely better for the employee, but often times the manager in a corporate environment does not feel they have the ability to speak candidly for fear of repercussions.

There is another aspect in your story that is worth mentioning and that is the cultural aspect of the advice you gave Jamal. In some cultures, your advice would have caused even greater confusion and stress. Jamal seems to be from a culture or upbringing that respects loyalty. He is trying to be loyal to his department and expects or hopes his department to be loyal back to him. Your advice may have been received that loyalty is not important in your corporate culture.

John Bishop said...

Great insight Jarrett.

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