The freedom to be positive and empowering or negative and critical is one that is at the very foundation of our societal values and Constitution. I’m referring to our freedom of speech — to say whatever you want publicly without getting killed, a freedom that not all countries possess. However, it is a freedom that you give up when you decide to become a leader. I’m not talking about when you were promoted and your title was changed to reflect a leadership position. Many of you might have the title but that does not guarantee leadership ability. It doesn’t take much observation to realize that a title doesn’t make a leader.
So let’s talk about the freedom you have to be negative and critical. YOU DON’T!! Your title enables that, but your leadership ability will either be questioned or seriously impaired by these practices.
You cannot lead in the presence of negativity toward your peers and those you lead.
Is this fair? No. It’s leadership. It’s not fair, but it’s rewarding. Leadership isn’t about fairness or equality. Nothing is fair about not being able to lash out at someone when they are driving you crazy. Nothing is fair about not being able to talk about your co-workers behind their back when you know they’re doing the same about you.
However, you’re not reading this post to be like the rest. You’re reading it to be a cut above the rest. Leaders are learners, or else they are not leaders.
Some leaders I have observed are extremely tactful, but miss the opportunity that directness brings. I have seen others that are much too direct and miss the opportunities that tact brings. I am someone who prefers to get straight to the point. I’m also the person who has learned my lesson of what happens when I get straight to the point before I earn that person’s trust. Be careful with that one.
So this week’s challenge is easier than most. It’s observation week in prep for next week.
Your challenge of the week: Observe when you are negative or critical vocally. What provokes it? Who provokes it? How do they provoke negativity from you?
We will work on the mental processes that are behind this in future posts.