Practical Leadership Advice From A Mentor

It’s important to have a mentor, someone who’s more experienced and further ahead of you to help you. Work has been a struggle with the same people following the same patterns. I’d done everything I could think of for one person, discussing what needs to be done, asking a more experienced man in the same department to take him under his wing. I was struggling with being tough, yet kind.

I could easily become a micromanaging control freak. So I asked my friend and mentor what to do. Two situations had happened at work and she walked me through how to handle them if they happened again. I’m glad I had paper and pen ready.

“I have to work another Saturday!”

This is a recurring conversation, one of them I wrote about in Expectation+Reality=Disappointment. It was already a bad day after I had gotten some unexpected bad news earlier. When the argument occurred this time, I didn’t keep my voice down.

This time I powered up. “I’m not having this conversation again, be here or not, I’m putting you into the book to work.” Then I walked away.

I learned from my conversation later to sit down and relax, invite the other to do the same. That’ll bring down some of the intensity by de-escalating body tension so you can respond calmer. In fact, the louder they get, do the opposite, become calmer. Calmness infects, yelling at someone who’s speaking in a level voice breaks the cycle.

Six General Techniques
  1. Remember rules are there for a reason, unless a rule is stupid. We have to remember that ourselves.
  2. Empathize with them, and explain the why. I do fairly well with that I think, though when communication breaks down with the front office it’s hard to explain “why”.
  3. Dangle a carrot, something to hope for. Hope goes a long way, but only if it’s followed through on.
  4. Defend my people to the boss, and they will defend me. Loyalty goes both ways. I’ve done this with varying degrees of success.
  5. Address little mistakes immediately, tell why just as a conversation before the problem perpetuates. In cases of ignorance, it’s a teaching moment. This is a good one I need to work on. It involves stepping out of my comfort zone, but if it is a teaching moment, well I do love teaching. That helps.
  6. If I take responsibility for others’ mistakes, it will slowly set up a culture (Outward Mindset’s assume it’s your fault and will work to fix it). This ties in with The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves principle where “as far as you’re concerned the problem is you, not the person.” You get yourself right, and their response will depend on you. You’ll teach them and prepare them better, to act how I would like them to act.

I don’t like doing it. I even did a Bible study on it after the following event that became the What Does The Bible Say About Disciplining post. The guy I tried to be merciful with continued, and when he didn’t follow through on his duties again, I was determined to write him up.

It didn’t go well. He argued with me and I caught him breaking the rules (number 5 above, tied with number 6 helps fix that). It ate at me after he left.

Next time I’ll communicate clearer, and make sure people know they can take initiative to check and see if they have what they need to do their job or ask someone. That ties into #6.

What I learned later is to check on them after the write-up. After a hard conversation, follow up with relationship building.

We have a social economy with people, good times fill the relationship’s account, but hard conversations are like withdrawals. Sometimes you have to bankrupt it out of necessity and then build it back up.

It was great advice. I typed it up and put it on my clipboard for easy referral. Now to put it to use.

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