This past Father’s Day, I was enjoying a breakfast out with my family. Our server that day had just delivered our warm meals, and inevitably with a group of six people there were one or two things that still needed to be brought to the table. Maybe it was an order of toast, or something like that. No big deal.
The server quickly moves toward the kitchen to grab the missing items, and not more than ten seconds passes and we have a manager who descends upon us and immediately jumps to the conclusion that there is a problem. We had to convince him that his employee had everything well in hand, and that there was no issue he needed to address.
As I reflected on that situation, it occurred to me that there’s a lesson here. As managers and leaders, we hire people to take care of our customers, solve problems and so on. Each time we intervene, we are sending a message to our employee that we think they are incapable of handling it her/himself. In my example, I wondered how the server felt with her boss intervening on her behalf when there was no reason. Bottom line, it destroys trust. Better to give your people every chance in the world to solve their challenges and be there in the background to offer coaching and encouragement. Even if there is a tough situation, leaders can use these opportunities to build trust.
The other day I had an opportunity to address my team, almost half of the audience were new to my organization, including our summer interns. I saw it as a chance to capture the imagination of these new members, and I thought it went well. As I did some self-reflection on the event, a little nugget emerged as a general lesson in leadership: Know Your Numbers.
Know Your Numbers means that leaders ought to have an inventory of key statistics in their back pocket, along with an understanding of how to use these numbers appropriately to make the desired point. In my case, I lead a growing laboratory so I used the relevant leading indicator to make that point. Upon doing that, I did notice multiple and very clear non-verbal cues from the audience that the message was received.
So, leaders, what are your numbers? Can you pull them out on the fly and use them to support points during crucial conversations? As I found out, it can really help shape other’s perception of your leadership.
The link above is to a nice opinion piece about the “No Budget, No Pay” act that recently passed, and has now been signed by the President.
Obviously not a cure-all for Washington’s ills, but it is a step in the right direction toward holding Congress accountable for passing a budget.
Congratulations to nolabels.org for spearheading the effort. It shows yet again that grassroots efforts can make a difference, and this one is great as it prioritizes progress over ideology.
Posted in Buzzing Topics, Leisure, Management and Leadership Topics, Personal Stories, Rants
Tagged 2013, accountability, bipartisan, budget, congress, Feb 2013, government, leadership, legislation, no budget no pay, no labels, obama, politics, progress