“…and this scar is from when I hit my head on the corner of the brick fireplace…and this one is from when my cousin and I stood on opposite sides of a roll of fencing, he jumped off on 2 instead of 3 and it coiled up splitting my eyebrow open, barely missed my eye actually…and this one…”
The scars on my face (and there’s a lot of them) tell the story of how I lived my life: head first.
All of these stories come with lessons on what I shouldn’t have been doing, which were obviously unsuccessfully conveyed to my daughter…as my she did a swan dive off the couch, exploding her eyebrow open on the coffee table, and adding a nice tour of the Vanderbilt Children’s ER to our trip to Nashville.
No matter how much we want to protect our children from the pains and struggles we endured as kids, they can’t grow into the amazing adults we see in them without riding their bikes a little too fast or climbing out on a branch that is a little too thin.
We can and should be there to guide and mentor them…to help them up, dust them off, and push them back out there….to let them learn their own lessons, discover their own style, and find their own limits.
As we’ve built our leadership team, I’ve learned it is much the same for our senior leaders.
I’m seeing time and time again the hard lessons my business partner had to go through earlier in our careers come back around–not exactly history repeating itself, but it sure does rhyme.
The first few times they changed something we had implemented, we sat back and said, “Seemed to be working pretty well, but maybe that just worked for our style, and they need it to be theirs”…but soon enough, unintended consequences forced us to revert back to a modified version of the original approach, like a pendulum that swings far from one side to the other and then back again.
After seeing this play out a couple times, our responses to the next change initiatives were a little different. This time, we made sure to share the stories of why we had originally put it in place, what problems it solved, how we rolled it out, what worked well, and what could have been better.
This added color gave our leadership team really important insights into what to change and how best to roll the initiative out to our team. Now instead of the pendulum going far from side to side, we are able to minimize innovation whiplash by mediating the range the pendulum swings.
Unfortunately, we know that our leaders must go through much the growing pains we did: not closing a prospect, being fired by a client, losing momentum and alignment with the team…all things that are one step back and expensive for the company…but all things necessary for their leadership growth to take the company 3 steps forward.
What is your managerial “parenting” style?
Are you a bulldozer clearing out all obstacles, a helicopter swooping in quickly at first sign of distress, or a drone watching intently but only jumping in to stave off disaster?
Do you trust your senior leaders enough to let them skin their knees, to pay the tuition dollars for their real-time leadership education?
If not, what needs to change…you or them?