Well good morning everyone.
Had an offsite work happy hour last night. As I got ready to exit our offices, someone asked one of the guys on my team, “Are you going?” “Oh,” he said, in a good-humored and deliberately over-hearable tone, “I’m just waiting for my boss to leave.”
I said at the same decibel level, “Your boss is just getting ready. Go on, go!’
And was suddenly filled with a swell of goodwill. It’s such a privilege to manage people.
But that’s not immediately apparent. It can take a while to develop an understanding of the nature of bosshood. When you’re first made a manager, it’s not unusual to worry about whether people will accept your authority. It’s not unusual to worry whether they will like you. It’s not unusual to miss the privilege part.
Then, over the years, you see that yes, people will do as you tell them to do. You see you have the right to admonish or even send to the exit those who will not. Over the years you also come to understand that it doesn’t really matter if your people like you. You understand that you’ve got a larger purpose than the personal, and that if you can set that purpose correctly, and align your team in the right direction, the results create their own momentum.
At that point you can step back, and use your extra capacity, that which is no longer being absorbed by the sheer getting-done-of-tasks, to help your people. To create a team space. To recognize, to coach. Not that come the rough times you won’t have to revert to barking out orders, just that you know what to do whenever there’s room for better.
Not too surprisingly, for some of us managing may roughly resemble motherhood.
Consider. As a mother you generally reach that moment where you know what you’re doing. Where you’re clear you don’t have to be your kids’ friend, but you might make that choice. You trust you can get those little ones to eat plants one way or another, you can cantilever them into bed before 9pm – wearing clean pajamas mind you – and that you know your way to the emergency room. Broken bones mend.
Then you set your sights higher. And you begin to build. Maybe you choose toys that foster imagination rather than occupy it, maybe spend time outdoors in the sun and wind, always make sure to listen when asked for a pretend picnic.
I used to tell my kids, “Thanks for choosing us to be your parents. We’re lucky to have you.”
Any position of power means privilege, because generous power engages people’s trust. And trust, as you know, is sacred.
Have a wonderful weekend.