One of my earliest leadership debacles took place when I was just a young twenty-something entrusted to manage my very first official employee. I was so excited and eager to put my leadership strengths to work but this employee of mine was simply not doing things the way that I wanted them done. With an air of superiority and visible frustration I shared with my boss the issues I was facing with this employee. His response to my ranting and raving (or whining depending on your perspective) was, “You are working with people, not widgets, Jenni. If you want to work with widgets go work in an assembly line. If you want to work with people, you’ve got to start leading them.” Instead of running to my rescue and validating my frustration, he reprimanded me for expecting my employee to be just like me.
One of the most dangerous things we can do as leaders is to expect others to be just like us.
Great leaders understand the unique and individual talents of their team members and seek to develop those strengths and use them for the betterment of the individual and the organization.
But time and time again, I watch conflict arise within teams because we’ve forgotten that we’re all different and that those differences are GOOD!
We get impatient and frustrated with others who think and behave differently than we do. And many times those differences lead to disrespect and disengagement.
Rather than engage and seek to understand one another, we retreat and avoid each other.
Too often we tolerate each other rather than value the uniqueness and perspective of each other.
Who on your team are you tolerating?
What could you learn to value about their gifts and perspective?