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As we waited to deplane, I asked the flight attendant a question that had been bothering me for some time.  Why don't you get the maps fixed so they show the proper elevation? Is it a technology thing that when the plane lands the maps stop registering? He says uh.... what do you mean? (Looking at me as if I'd grown a horn on my forehead). Well, I kind of huffily point to the map which plainly shows we are at an elevation of 879 feet - and I say, we are landed! Yes, he says but we are not at sea level.  We are nearly 900 feet higher.

That moment.  The moment when it strikes you with absolute clarity that you have so missed the point, the meaning, that there is nothing left to do but say, ah, thanks. And your real name is on the boarding pass too, damn it.

The moment in a team meeting when you realize that you just don't get it.  I  know a leader who has a rapier quick mind bordering on brilliance. I occasionally get lost in a sea of acronyms as he blazes through an explanation of an issue or process.  I'm pretty certain that his mind is expanding the acronyms as he says them and it's very clear to him, but sometimes, not so much for me, and I have learned to say, hey Mike, I need the full version.

There are times when the message is cloudy, or scrambled, or it's just plain something you missed in 7th grade social studies when you were worried about passing notes to your girlfriends without getting caught.  It's never too late to seek clarity - ask the questions and yes, shake your head at yourself when you need to.  And you will be able to share the message and direction with your team with much better if you do so.

I write this from elevation 5 ft.  pretty much sea level as I sit in the sand by the ocean in Maui. Got it, Mr. West Jet.  Thanks. 


 
 
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One size does not fit all.  We know it and still, whether it's our need to compartmentalize, our need to make order out of chaos, or it's just plain easier, we often try to mold our teams to look alike, act alike, be alike.

Everyone wanted white go-go boots.  And to be in junior high and be able to dance the pony, the swim, the other crazy dances of the sixties and look like The go-go dancers in the cages suspended from the ceiling at concerts and teen fairs - well, it was just too cool.

I got go-go boots, but here's where the catch came in, the trade off deal.  I had to share them with my two little sisters.  Sounds like a reasonable parental decision-based arrangement, only didn't quite work out that way.  First of all, our feet were not the same size, so the boots were tight on me and big on them.  Secondly, we never did agree on an equitable "sharing the go-go boots" arrangement simply because we all had different agendas.  Mine was to wear them as much as I could and look like every other junior high girl.  My sisters' agenda was to want to wear them simply because I did, and they could. This was intended as a learning experience in group dynamics and problem solving. 

The arrangement was a  failure.  My feet grew quickly squeezing me out of the boots before I had a chance to perfect my go-go style.  Coincidentally, my sisters lost interest and wanted their own styles about the same time.  The go-go boots were given away to the neighbor girl who danced her way to the bus stop every day for weeks in our boots.

How often do we provide something; a directive, a process, equipment to our teams and a) expect that one size fits all and,  b) the team can figure out on its own how to make it work. Much like realizing that there are different learning and reasoning styles, there are different problem solving styles within teams as well.  Following up and getting meaningful feedback is how you can see where the breakdown not only occurs but where it can be rescued as well.

Failing to recognize your team members as individuals is a setup for missing opportunities.  Acknowledge  the sameness where it is, uniform presence, shared goals, shared performance objectives, and so forth, but also be cognizant of the individual characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.   And boot size.

It's hard to dance when your feet hurt. 


 
 
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The roar of the crowd was deafening. The shouts of jubilation from Patriot players and fans as audible as the gasps from the Seahawks. It's been called the game ending interception. 

And there is no doubt that the sound of bad leadership decisions can feel like the resounding decibel level of of a major stadium full of fans as you sit in your office and play it over and over again in your head.  As a leader, you WILL make some bad decisions.  Some will be biggies and some easily fixed; some will have far reaching and long lasting consequences, and some you will be able to brush off. 

" The reality is that important decisions made by intelligent, responsible people with the best intentions are sometimes hopelessly flawed".  Harvard Business Review Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions" by Andrew Campbell, Jo Whitehead and Sydney Finkelstein. " Leaders make quick decisions by recognizing patterns in the situations they encounter, bolstered by emotional associations attached to those patterns.  Most of the time, the process works well, but it can result in serious mistakes when judgements are biased".

Russell Wilson "You have different options....we thought we had them...I thought it was going to be game over".

Hindsight, debriefing, review- it all looks easier from there, but in the moment, you identify what it is you are dealing with, assess it and manage the situation by making a decision to act.
Our brains leap to conclusions and are reluctant to consider alternatives; we are particularly bad at revisiting our initial assessment of a situation.

And here is where, as a leader, you need to acknowledge that bad decisions happen.  You make some.  Fix what you can and move on from what you can't . 

Pete Carroll "for it to come down to a play like that I hate that we have to live with that because we did everything right to win the football game."

Stay classy, Seahawks.