Friday, September 25, 2009

what the...?

Perhaps one of the most used lines by leaders is "What the...?" Of course, this line is seldom said outloud or in public, but how many times duirng a given week do you say/think to yourself, "What the ...?" Here are a few examples to consider:
  • What the...just happened in that meeting?
  • What that doing there?
  • What the...were they thinking when they said that?
  • What the...was I thinking when I agreed to do that?
  • What the...does this decision have to do with the mission of this place?

Or perhaps you find your self saying/thinking variations on this theme:

  • Why the...did I think we should go down that path?
  • Who the...made that decision?
  • Where that person when I need them?
  • When this meeting going to end?
  • Why the...did he/she decide to do that?

I have found myself this past week asking that question many times over a recent incident. The problem is that I do not know how to answer those questions - and that for me is a REAL problem. If I cannot answer those questions, then something has gone wrong within the institution. While I understand that it is not my calling to make every decision - and while I understand that I should not be consulted on all decisions - and while I understand that I do not know all of the facts surrounding decisons made - and while I understand that decisions often need to be made quickly ----- I DO understand that as someone who has an integral role within the institution and in my department, I should be able to figure out why decisions are made the way they are. I may not agree with the decision AND I may not know all of the facts behind the decision, but I should be able to understand the CONTEXT in which the decision was made.

I have come to believe that CONTEXT is the key to communication (which is a topic for another blog at another time). I also have come to believe that decisions should reflect the mission and vision of the institution (yet another blog for another time). It's my hope that for each of us, the number of times we need to say/think the phrase "What the..." will occur less and less - or maybe not as we develop a keener sense of what it means to be a leader.


Matt Grahn said...

As always, I love your blog postings. I find myself asking these questions requently as well, and I agree with you on the CONTENT. As an assistant basketball coach, this is the constant challenge. I have a strong conviction in how I would run a program, but ultimately I KNOW the record goes next to the head coach's name; I just want to have an idea of what direction we're headed in together. It is not a case of insubordination, it is more simply the desire to move towards a common goal.

Love it! Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on leadership. It should be very much helpfull.

Karim - Mind Power