Earlier this week I was suffering from a case of mild laryngitis. By yesterday, my voice was about 50% of the way back. At a restaurant last night, the waiter took our order and when I asked for water he heard the quality (or lack of quality) of my voice. He asked if, in addition to my cold water, he could bring me some warm water for my throat. I said yes and was impressed.
In that same situation, some other waiters would have noticed my voice and asked if I had a cold or somewhere in the conversation would have wished me better health soon. What impressed me about this waiter was that he offered a solution to my problem. That’s what great performers do. When they see a problem or an area for improvement they don’t just recognize it, they take action to address it. Often, when I work with middle managers, they’ll talk about how ineffective their leadership is at communicating a vision or managing change or understanding what the sales team is really facing in the marketplace. My first question is usually, “Have you talked with them about it? Have you asked for more information or clarity? Have you suggested a better way?” Occasionally, an individual will say yes, but most say no and give a myriad of reasons why they haven’t or can’t.
Early in my career, during my first conversation with the partner who had just arrived to take over leadership of the project, I was one of those managers, pointing out all the issues and obstacles others were creating. She cut me off and said, ‘So, there are issues. Let’s talk about what you and I can do about them and move forward. And, I want you to tell me if I ever become one of those obstacles” For that and many other reasons, she was one of the best leaders I ever worked for.
About Edith Onderick-Harvey
Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.
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