Reading an article by Carol Kaufman’s in Harvard Business Review where she writes about the experience of one of her clients, I had a super strong sense of déjà vu as she describes her clients contempt for her employees who weren’t keeping up:
Gwen is not a “bad” person. She felt betrayed by her team, who she felt had abandoned her when she needed them most and now threatened her leadership.
I’ve been there, quickly observing that major changes were afoot, orienting to them, and deciding to act well in advance of the rest of my team even knowing there was an issue. It’s a super power, right? Well… not so fast.
It never occurred to her that the members of her team might not be as relentlessly resilient and mentally tough as she was. Blind to this fact, she was unable to relate to her employees empathetically and instead assumed they had chosen to fail her. From her standpoint, they deserved her contempt.
In my case, I’ve been wrapped up totally around the idea of “How the hell do they not get it? We have to do this (whatever it is)! Seriously, how the %u#k can they not understand!?!” And, it’s scary just how fast that turns into, “What are they doing? How can they just sit there doing nothing?”
As a leader, being able to execute a decision-making framework quickly isn’t enough. You have to be able to take the rest of your team with you. Otherwise, along with failure, you’ll likely get the wonderful bonus of not understanding why everyone hates you.
If you’ve ever caught yourself having a whiff of a contempt attack about your team, go read Carol’s article now and put what she teaches into your own personal set of operating principles.