If our solution to our anxiety involves getting someone else to change, it is doomed to failure. -Jeffrey A. Miller in The Anxious Organization: Why Smart Companies do Dumb Things
Since ancient times we have been admonished to be the change. There are those in our midst who clearly see any given problem and intelligently point out individual fault and what they think we should do to fix the problem. If you listen carefully to these censors, you will most likely never hear them say, “For my part, I will commit to …”
While still young in the realm of leadership, Bob gave me a gift; he pulled into consciousness an unconscious competence I possessed. Bob was my boss when I was in retail. The day of the gift, I had walked into Bob’s office and presented a problem and then fluidly outlined three possible solutions. After hearing the options, he asked me which one I preferred. I told him and he said, “Go do that one.” Thanking him, I got up to leave. As I was about to clear his doorway, he called me back and asked me to sit down. He asked, “Do you know why I asked you which action strategy you preferred?” I did not. He then said, “It’s because when you bring me a problem, you always have 3 solutions ready. You are the only manager I have who does this. So, I trust your thinking and your choice.”
For more than 25 years this experience has served me. I think it was when I first began to consciously embrace the meaning of personal accountability and the power of commitment; both of which had seemingly built trust with Bob.
Just before leaving Bob’s office for the second time that day, I noticed an adage properly framed and positioned on his credenza; “Are you part of the problem, or are you part of the solution?” Seeing that maxim displayed in his office let me know that he and I shared some values. While we disagreed on some operational issues, we seemed aligned with principles that produced good decisions in the operation.
Commitment and trust are companions on the journey to right action and impact. Letting go of the need to blame, and seeking opportunity to be the change, our behavior aligns with intent and we become effective – getting the right results, living our impact, and building trust along the way.