Anyone can lead when they are walking downhill on the sunny side of the street on a beautiful day. It seems effortless. When you experience those moments, take them in and enjoy the successes around you because they’re usually short lived. On the other hand, as you experience challenging moments working with others, this can test your progress as a leader.
Several weeks ago, while facilitating a leadership program in Cleveland, our discussion came to a halt when we got to corrective action. Up until this point, our discussion was positive as we introduced various tools and strategies to improve or increase our effectiveness as leaders. After a break, we moved to discussing an area where mistakes clearly were made, and the leader needed to confront the person or situation. Ah, now we get to measure our progress because this is where we earn our stripes as a servant leader.
In most cases, the mistake or issue is going to impact our performance and, perhaps, cause embarrassment and/or failure. This in turn may impact our standing and future earnings. It is hard not to take it personally and do what is useful and helpful for others when our reputation is at stake. Ouch! Leading is no longer a stroll on the sunny side of the street.
As a servant leader, commit to these four principles:
- Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
- Help create a “win-win” resolution. This strengthens the relationship every time.
- Have the other person relate to the mistake, see it, and own it.
- Ensure it is their (not your) corrective action plan. People support a world they help create.
For any of these principles to work, it is vital to have an existing positive relationship with the person who made the mistake. Start or continue to build relationships with your team. Act on this daily to establish positive reserves to pull from when needed.