Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lesson from the Coffee Pool on Being Right

I recalled an early life experience that reminded me of a lesson about managers and leaders.

One day as a young boy, I saw the local Scout Master jaywalking.  This was a man I admired greatly and here he was possibly breaking the law.  Each of us has similar examples of discovering that others we look up to aren't perfect.  As we grow older, we construct more sophisticated mental assemblies to hand these little contradictions and get over them.

Or do we?

Early in my professional career, our hospital got a new CEO.  Several months into his tenure, I was in the Executive Suite arranging meetings with his senior assistant,  She told me how very impressed she was with the new boss and it floored me.  It wasn't anything I expected from a seasoned, top of the line assistant.  She said he always chipped into the coffee pool.

The other day, when I saw a manager fill up their cup at the office coffee pool, I wondered they chipped into the pool.  The contradiction wasn't all worked out after all.

This recent manager who didn't pay didn't do anything wrong but arguable could have as I didn't see him pay. I simply hadn't seen him do it right.  If inclined toward the negative, I could have walked away from the experience assuming that he had as the conclusion was potentially open to interpretation.

For a manager seeking to also be a leader, it's not enough to be doing the right thing.  The leader must also be noticed being right.  At first, this seems trite.

Perceptions are very strong, particularly if negative.  If a manager is perceived not to be right, even in a small, seemingly insignificant area like the coffee fund, their standing as a leader drops.  If the right deed is done but not noticed at least sometimes, the perceptions in others may run to unfortunate and inaccurate negative views, sadly so, but true in my experience.

My attempts at being a more effective manager and leader include making deliberate actions that I would have taken anyway but now making them publicly at least part of the time.

I am seen at least some of the time, paying into the coffee pool.

No comments:

Post a Comment