A toast ...

A few years past at a going away party for a close colleague, who had worked for me for 10+ years, I made a toast.  In it, I told the story of how I hired him with one role in mind, but quickly realized, he had so much more potential, ambition and competence for what he was hired for.  I then stated, half-jokingly, I faced a choice so many managers come to face with a high-performing team member.  Either be threatened by their abilities and sideline them, in the myriad ways so many poor managers do, before they “make me look bad”. Or, appreciate and promote those qualities, collaborate, and accomplish great work together.

Fortunately, I chose the latter.

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After the toast several people came up to me, with a wink and a nod, thanking me for those words, and mentioned how several of our more senior colleagues looked nervous and weren’t laughing during what I took as a humorous anecdote.

I hadn’t noticed, but found it interesting.

Often people rise in their careers and organizations because they have ALL the answers.  They are the experts.  At some point though, to quote Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”  It reminds me of what one of my mentors once told me early in my career.  She asked how was it she could manage and lead such a diverse group of people, with diverse areas of expertise, when she didn’t have experience in those areas.  She said, it was because they had the answers and she had the right questions.

Being humble enough to know you don’t have the answers, confident enough to admit it, and curious enough to ask questions goes a long way.

Thx for reading.

As always, interested in hearing your thoughts and continuing the conversation

Bill