A dear friend and former colleague of mine once told me, ‘I don’t care about your crunch time stuff’. Ouch. He then clarified, and went on to say, ‘I don’t talk about you and the work you do around crunch time, I talk about you and tell your story because of the fact that you made the decision to go and do something and you had the b@lls to go and do it.’ Huh. Until that point, I’d never thought mine was a story to tell, nor there could be a higher level learning from it that could help or inspire others.
We’re so into ourselves
You see, we so often get caught up in our own world, our own challenges and opportunities, and consequently, our own decisions, that we truly can’t see the forest from the trees because we are right there living it. Unfortunately what that means, is that we inevitably miss the positives andnegatives that come out of our decisions we make and actions we take. Now, we could go on here about the importance of feedback and trusted colleagues, and yes, those are both important. But in the absence of those two things, we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘what is the impact of my decisions on others’?
It’s the little things
An easy example to share where I completely stuffed this up, was a morning a couple of weeks ago, where I decided to get up early, ditch my workout in order to sneak a bit of work in before the day started. I’m sure your internal alarm bells are ringing already, especially when I tell you that it was my turn to drop the girls off at school. As you can imagine, it went pear-shaped very quickly. They woke up, I kept working, they got frustrated, I reacted, they didn’t respond to my reactions and it spiralled very quickly out of control. Quite simply, the impact of my decisions on that morning were bad.
Know there are a spectrum of choices….of which yours is only one
Last week I spoke at a Women in Banking and Financial Services Leadership Summit, where senior finance leaders - both men and women - spoke about the importance of knowing your purpose and the role that plays in your decision making. As expected, the topic of ‘work life harmony’ was discussed and it was really interesting, because we had several inspiring and respected leaders say ‘I work long hours - 16 to sometimes 20 hour days. And that’s the choice that I make.’, or ‘I work around the clock’. On the other hand, we also had leaders who said, ‘I make sure I’m home for dinner once a week’, ‘I leave at 3pm then log on again at 8pm…my organisation embraces flex working’. The spectrum of work choices was broad (usually at these things they are quite slanted in one direction), and this proved to be agitating and quite challenging to the Summit participants. I had several approach me over a drink the first evening and ask, ‘but what if I don’t want that way of working? Are they saying in their organisations it has to be that way?’ What shadow do you cast?
And I suppose that is my point. As leaders, we have the opportunity and ability to stand in the conviction of our decisions. But we also have the responsibility to consider the shadow it casts on others. As my 5 year-old said to me last week, ‘mummy, your shadow is bigger than mine. I’m going to stand in yours.’. Without conscious thought or intentional action, your staff will do the same. So if you believe that everyone can make and own their own decisions, make sure your shadow - and the impact of your decisions - doesn’t suggest otherwise. Do you know the impact of your decisions?