"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."
Mark Twain

Get Leadership Notes by Email

Good afternoon from the Host City of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games! I've been smiling to myself at the present analogy between being the Host City for th Olympic Games and being a leader. Simply put, when everything goes right, someone always finds a something that could/should have been different, and when things go wrong, someone always points it out, and attaches blame to you.  And so it goes, often feeling like a jab. On a much, much smaller scale my wife, the brains of the operation, who serves on the Strata Council on our building had an interesting moment last week. The Strata Council have ordered the replacement of the carpets in the hallways.  An email from another owner came my wife's way complaining about the colour of the newly installed carpet last week. My wife's response was to invite the complainer to join the Strata Council to help make decisions in the future. To date, there has been no response.

In leadership positions we face such occurences often, it goes with the territory we are told. My caution is that these complaints and jabs can in the long run hurt us. (We always say they don't hurt but in the long run, chronically though, they can have an impact on us.) There are a number of ways we can alleviate the pain of these jabs. I mentioned back in September the great idea of the late Jack Poole of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee who used to buy himself shirts when he had done a great job and no one had recognized his efforts. His colleague John Furlong, the CEO of VANOC talked of receiving shirts from Jack in the lead up to the games. (I hope John has received a shirt or two since Friday!) Buying  gift for yourself is then certainly one way to alleviate the pain of the jabs. Other ways include coaching yourself back to what the vision is; what is it that we're trying to accomplish, and are we still of track? Jabs from external sources can then be recognized as part of the change process; the jabs being people resisting the change for reasons of their own. Or, from the work of Marty Linsky and Sharon Daloz Parks and others, identifying three groups of people around you; your partners, those who are in full agreement and common vision, allies, those who are alongside for the current moments, with whom you share common purpose right now, and thirdly, a confidante, a person who deeply understands you, with whom you can be competely honest and fearless. (And this person is best not your spouse, s/he does not need to hear you complain about work more often!) This confidante then can keep you on track, and more often than not, when the jabs do come, s/he can help you process through them, and can help you find a salve.

My hope for us all is that these next few weeks give us ample opportunity to learn, and to make mistakes. It is from mistakes that we learn. And I hope that each of us can find a confidante, and in return be a confidante for another leader.

And may the peace promised by the Olympic Games be present for each and everyone, everywhere.