8/19/11

Handling "Stuff"

Today I want to talk about "handling stuff".

We ALL find ourselves in positions of leadership sometimes. Whether we're the boss at work, the parent at home, or just the person in a group of others who naturally falls into the "leadership" role, it happens to all of us at one time or another.

The way we "handle stuff" as a leader is really important. Lately, I've caught myself observing how people handle things, wondering about the pros and cons of the different approaches, and, as always, finding it fodder for the writing of stories down the road.

Let's say you're in a group of college students who've been assigned a group project. Somehow, you wind up being the one planning, delegating, and seeing to the completion of the project. Maybe you get frustrated with the others in your group for not pulling their weight. How do you handle that? If you express your anger and frustration by snapping their heads off, do you really do yourself and your group project any good? Probably not. More than likely, the others now feel alienated. Did they need to step it up and do their part? Probably so. Is anger and humiliation the way to get that from them? I doubt it.

Lets say you're the boss have an uncomfortable situation that needs your attention. Maybe it involves confronting someone about something they've done wrong. You worry how the person will handle the confrontation, even if you handle your part delicately. So, instead of facing the issue yourself, you write a memo and have someone else deliver it. Yeah, you've avoided the direct confrontation, but what kind of leader have you shown yourself to be? Have you inspired those you lead to respect your position of leadership by avoiding the responsibility? Probably not.

I'm a teacher. If I snap at a student out of anger, I run the risk of pushing that student away so far that he or she may never be able to truly learn from me again. And any good thing I might have to offer that child is possibly lost forever. Likewise, if I just avoid confrontation at all costs, I let the students make the rules in my classroom and lose the authority I need to effectively teach.

I won't say I'm perfect. Far from it. My angry (less-mature) side comes out every now and then, usually at home. It's unfortunate that my family winds up being the recipient of that, but I suppose since they can forgive and forget pretty quickly, there's a reason I only let that side out at home. And I don't like confrontation. In fact, I hate it. I don't like having to "be the meanie", or call someone out on their mistakes, but sometimes it's my job to take care of what needs to be dealt with. I don't do myself any favors by overlooking things in order to avoid the confrontation.

It's a fine line we walk, when we find ourselves in positions of leadership. It's not always easy to tell when we're crossing the line into the "too harsh" territory, or when we're not really answering the call to be a leader. Either one can be damaging to our effectiveness.

I suppose my thinking is this: Whatever you must do, do it with kindness and honesty. For example, it's possible to correct a misbehaving child while at the same time showing compassion. It's also possible to point out a flaw in something an employee does while at the same time being nice.

I think the old saying is true... you really CAN catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

Just a few thoughts for your Friday.

Happy weekend, everyone. Read something great!


2 comments:

  1. So true! Some leaders try ruling with an iron fist and lose their followers (The Middle East). Other leaders try to be "friends" with their followers and please everyone, but soon no one is pleased.

    We can pick some things (I teach middle school, so I can't say all that came to mind about picking things), but we often can't truly choose who leads us, and yet, we still have to look to them for our direction. Can be frustrating.

    Hope your school year is a great one.

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  2. Cherie - Our school year is off to a great start, which always makes the beginning of the year so much nicer! And I'm fortunate in my job that our administration usually walks that "fine line" with grace. There've been some situations (outside of my job) recently that just had me thinking about how important it is to "lead" in the right way for each situation. The consequences really can be disastrous if you go too far in either direction!

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