The Hard Truth About Tough Decisions

“Wanting everyone to be happy and making tough decisions were incompatible tasks.”

 - John Maxwell

I (Cindy) remember reading this quote early in my leadership journey and realizing there’s my problem!  I was attempting to keep people happy while making tough decisions... and it wasn’t working out so well. Family, work, friends...everywhere!  I wanted everyone to be happy yet life offered an unending barrage of tough decisions.  Since I made tough decisions with this mindset, I was in constant turmoil.   That simple quote reminded me everyone is responsible for their own happiness and my job was to continue making tough decisions with everyone's best interest at heart.  That worked for me because it values everyone!  

Consider when a mindset shift may be helpful for you in this area. It may just make the difference for you and your leadership like it did for me! If it wasn't for ongoing growth, I would still be...

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Like It or Not, That’s How It’s Gonna Be… Really?

Have you ever been told that by a company you’ve done business with? Like it or not, that’s how it's gonna be… Have you ever heard a supervisor say something like this to one of their employees? Have you ever been that employee???

I remember being told something very similar to that by an administrative assistant for the attorney I was dealing with about 15 years ago following a nasty car accident and the other party had a less than stellar insurance company. After being jerked around by the other insurance company for weeks and not hearing back from the attorney for quite a while too, I began calling daily until I got a response. After a few days of this, she told me “You’re not our only client. We’ll get to you when we get to you.” That didn’t go as well as she thought it would…

While I can’t say that I’ve ever been anything like that by a supervisor, I’ve certainly heard it said a few times. It’s one...

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Turn the Ripples into Waves!

In closing the last post, I shared a brief warning about the weight of the responsibility that comes with an expanded reach. Since you’ve chosen to read this, I’m going to assume you’re willing to carry that load called leadership… Well done!

So how do we turn those initial ripples into significant waves that make a positive impact on people we may never meet rather than creating an undertow that sucks some of them under and scares everyone else away? That certainly ties back to choosing the harder right over the easier wrong, but making those kinds of decisions are just a starting point!

While choosing that harder right over the easier wrong presents some challenges, it’s really the simplest part of the process - especially once you’ve determined where you’re just not willing to compromise! The tough part often comes when it’s time to back those decisions with action on a daily basis. But even that becomes more routine as...

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A Ripple Effect...

As I shared in the last blog, each decision we make will result in consequences that reach farther than we typically expect. Sometimes those consequences are far worse than we ever imagined, but there are also times where the footprint we leave makes a positive impact on people we may never know!

While the example I shared last time certainly caused me to lose some respect for the folks in those leadership roles who dug their feet in on their choice to take the easier wrong instead of the harder right, it really only confirmed what I thought they were made of leading up to that decision. But let’s take me out of the equation, because I’ve been looking at the situation out of principle. Consider the ripple effect their decision will have on the 299 people they chose not to stand up for, many of whom already have been impacted financially. Did they earn influence with the rest of that group, or did they flush a significant portion of their positional credibility down the...

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Was That What You Were Hoping For?

Spending time in a garage won’t make you a car any more than sitting in a nice office will make you a leader… I closed the last blog by promising to dig into some of the consequences we can expect to see depending on whether we choose The Harder Right or the Easier Wrong when we’re forced to make decisions in a leadership role. And while a nice office or our title won’t define whether or not we really are leaders, the decisions - more specifically, the consequences of those decisions - will!

In the last blog, I shared a few of the details of a scenario I’ve watched unfold (you may even say unravel) over the last several weeks. The folks who held responsibility for the final decision chose an immediate easier wrong by allowing one person to violate a very clearly defined code of conduct and the guidelines they themselves signed off on for the 300 or so folks in the mix. 

Opting to go with that easier wrong allowed them to avoid holding that one...

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The Harder Right or the Easier Wrong?

I worked with teams across North America for more than a decade, providing them with practical tools that would help them interact with their coworkers in a way that could lead to changing behavior and reducing the risk of workplace injury. Where safety was involved, it nearly always boiled down to choosing between the harder right or the easier wrong… I’d love to take credit for that statement, but it was something I heard one of my mentors say literally hundreds of times as I worked with him. Putting on a pair of gloves or safety glasses always took just a little bit longer and added at least a small degree of discomfort versus not wearing them at all. Going through the proper steps of completely de-energizing the equipment (LockOut/TagOut) always required extra time…

While skipping those basic steps may seem crazy, the constant pressure (actual or perceived) of meeting productivity demands often led employees to choose the easier wrong! And if a metric on a...

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You Don’t Always Get What You Want...

Assuming the Rolling Stones had it right, “if you try sometimes, well, you just might find… you get what you need…” Regardless of their financial success, I can’t say I’ve ever considered looking to them for advice on anything - especially not for how I can earn influence ethically with the people I’m responsible for leading!

In the last several blog posts, as well as a recent LinkedIn article I published called Lead From Where You Are, we dug into the idea that each of us are completely capable of becoming effective leaders for the people around us regardless of the role we currently fill within our organization. We took a hard look at whether we’re attempting to lead with Authority or Influence, how we can effectively recognize The Hardest Person You’ll Ever Have To Lead, and who we’re currently developing influence with when we’re intentional about who we’re Now Serving…

I had originally planned...

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Now Serving...

During his session as part of the 2019 Live2Lead event, Chris Hogan defined what he called a huge leadership lie. He said “The biggest lie about leadership is that it’s tied to position or title.” Chris went on to paint a very vivid picture of the difference between a good leader and a great leader by suggesting that “a good leader helps you get better at your job but a great leader will change your life!” That statement resonated so much with me that I developed an entire lesson in our Leading At The Next Level program that was based on that idea. Not only is the entire message Chris Hogan shared at last year’s Live2Lead event available as bonus content for everyone who participates in the 2020 LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg virtual experience with us on Oct 9, we’re also adding a coupon so each participant can get complimentary access to our new digital course, Build a Reputation as a Servant Leader that includes the lesson I did based on his...

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The Hardest Person You’ll Ever Have To Lead Is...

Before I dive into how we can handle the hardest person any of us will ever have to lead, I want to share a link to a video I posted on our social media channels a few hours ago calling attention to the amazing work that’s done by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and why we’re so excited to be able to work with them again this year as Community Partners for LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg!

I also want to share a link to a blog post I just read from The John Maxwell Company that ties right in with what we looked at in the last blog I posted, what we’ll be working through here, and what we’ll be digging into with the next few blog posts. Their post was called Leading from the Middle: I’m Not the Boss! You Do the Leading! I won’t speak for you on this, but the fact that this is something they’re addressing as well tells me that the misconception that you have to have authority in order to lead is pretty widespread!

How will you recognize the hardest person...

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Authority or Influence?

In early 2001, I read a book by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan called Becoming a Person of Influence. One of the most significant things I remember from the first time going through that book was how John shared that so many of the folks he interacted with who were serving at high levels of their respective organizations seemed to have very little interest any what he was teaching about leadership but those same folks were devouring what he was putting out on developing influence. As executives and upper level managers, they were often of the opinion that they were already leaders so why waste their time learning any more about that. Many of them did, however, recognize a need for learning how they could develop more influence with the individuals reporting to them…

That explanation was the first time I recall John making the statement that “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”

As I was reading that book, fresh off reading The 21 Irrefutable Laws of...

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