"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
Robert F. Kennedy

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 328

Estimated reading time:  2:30 minutes



Good morning, from a stormy Sunshine Coast.


In the midst of your work as a leader, you will sometimes find that one person on your team seems to push your ‘buttons.’ Maybe they are late a little too often, or they don’t complete projects to your satisfaction. What ever the cause, at first you might have what the philosopher Paul Ricoeur https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ricœur called a First Naiveté; you take what they say and do at face value. Eventually though, as their behaviour continues,  you begin to see them with what Ricoeur called a “hermeneutic of suspicion” that will often colour how you see them; ‘they are always late,’ ‘they never deliver,’ or ‘they just tick me off.’   And herein lies danger. 


A good  question for each of us as leaders is, ‘what am I doing or not doing that is enabling the behaviour in the other person?’ This question might lead to,  ‘What if I speak up much earlier next time?’ What specifically am I condoning here simply because I don’t want the hassle?’  By engaging in such self-reflection questions, we might begin to see the person’s behaviour through what Ricoeur called a “Second Naiveté.” Such a lens explores  “what do I want to have happen here?” “where is there behaviour from this person that I welcome?” or even, “what can I learn about myself in this situation?”



The danger of a “hermeneutic of suspicion” about a member of a team is that we too quickly morph their behaviour into who they are to us. A second naiveté pushes us away from telling ourselves all that is wrong is wrong with a person, and towards asking what good might be seen in them and what might we learn from them?