Following Up On A Leadership Story
A while back I posted a letter from a friend of mine. Dave had been asked to take on a new challenge. He moved into a fairly difficult work situation. It was difficult because of one employee who was determined to fight his efforts to raise expectations. You can read that full page in the link below. After that you'll find an update from Dave.
A Leadership Story
"It's been several weeks since I wrote that initial note after taking this new management position. Quite a bit has changed over that time. If you read my first letter, you know that I had one long-time employee who just refused to get rid of his dreadful, negative attitude. I was given permission from the owners to fire him.
But I had two thoughts on this final type of resolution. First of all, I didn't want to put a fifty year old man on the street with no job. I think it would be hard to find a new job when he tried to explain why he was fired from his previous position.
And secondly, I thought that was taking the easy way out. I was trying to change a negative environment. Yes, removing him might be a short term fix. But to me it seemed more like a band-aid rather than a permanent fix.
So I decided to use what I'd learned from John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar and Florence Littauer. I put out a positive attitude everyday. There was a clear direction given, and I didn't allow myself to get baited into debates and arguments. It wasn't easy. I had to really make an effort to stay focused on the task at hand.
But I also used a tactic learned from leadership books. Rather than try to calm myself, I used the challenge presented by this angry employee. I started each day with renewed enthusiasm as I set out to reach new team goals. Those goals were posted on a white board. All of the group looked forward to crossing off daily goals. Well, all but one.
There was a new encouraging quote written on that board each week. We began to get suggestions from team members. The tide had turned. Even those who used to be easily influenced had seen this employee in a new light. Understanding personality traits is so important. I knew this, but didn't fully utilize the knowledge at first.
He is no longer with us, having moved to a different spot in another city. He wasn't fired and I'm careful to never speak negatively about him, even though I hear all the comments he made prior to leaving.
It wasn't about him or about me. It was about turning around a negative environment. We can try to force our will on people or we can set the example. We can try to catch people doing things wrong, or we can express our belief in their ability and then be sure to recognize them when they do succeed.
In the end, those who will go with you will do so because they believe in you and in the direction you are taking them. Those who don't, won't be missed anyway.
I'll close this letter in the same way as that first one. Stick to your basic principles of doing the right things for the right reasons and trust your skills."
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