The Docent and the Driver

My friend Linda and I were together on the occasion of our college reunion at Penn a few weeks ago. After the festivities ended, we had the pleasure of a leisurely Sunday afternoon visiting The Barnes Foundation, an amazing collection of post-Impressionist and early modern art.

We took a docent-led tour to enhance our experience. She was just “OK”. She knew enough to provide some insights, but frankly, her commentary was disappointing.

It didn’t matter, though, because the art was stunning and the experience was fulfilling on its own.

When is Enough Really Enough?

Some leaders face brutal situations, functioning in what you or I may think are unbearable circumstances. When you operate day after day under huge levels of stress, even the most centered person feels it.

The questions become, how long can you take it? When is enough really enough? Why can some leaders endure the adversity, while others crumble?

Values are often the differentiator. You can put up with a tremendous amount of hardship if you believe in and feel aligned with the situation. Yes, it’s demanding and can cause wear and tear on your nerves. But you can keep going if you associate with the underlying mission.

The Value of Thoughtful Decisions

Many managers make decisions which were appropriate when they were made, but don’t stand the test of time. For example, you might have promoted someone at an earlier stage of his or her career, but the person didn’t continue to advance as you expected.

Part of good decision making involves thinking ahead and imagining what a decision made today will look like in various future scenarios. This means that some decisions need to be evaluated more thoughtfully and strategically.

This isn’t as easy as it seems, particularly because we make dozens of decisions daily at breakneck speed. After all, who has time to reflect when you’re already on to the next thing?

Don’t Dilute Your Feedback

Many clients share woes about employees who don’t do this or should have done that. When I ask how their employees responded to feedback about these issues, I get blank stares.

Of course, feedback can be both positive and negative. In either case, you want to provide it swiftly. If you wait, you dilute the impact.

Think about it: have you ever waited to give feedback about a mistake or inappropriate behavior? When you finally get around to saying something, the employee has long forgotten about the incident and reacts as if you are picking on her.