Driven.

Gets results.

Gets things done.

These are all commonly used to describe good leaders. That’s what we want from our leaders, right? To get things done. Be decisive

But when we only focus on getting things done, we can bulldoze past people and their input.

So we might get the task done quickly today, but we’ve lost people along the way, and probably created more resistance and apathy in our teams. Why should they bother when we are just going to push our agenda anyway?

And this literally just happened to me at my daughters rugby club.

I volunteer as a manager (beheerder) which means I have the keys to the club, can open and lock up, and generally take care of things during practice and on match days.

A couple of weeks ago a big tournament was being held at our club and at the last minute I was asked to do the lunchtime shift.

I received a vague handover from the other manager, let’s call her Nelly, but I’ve done this shift before so it’s not a big deal.

Or so I thought.

As problems cropped up I did what I always do: assessed the situation, checked in with my staff, and made a decision.

But today was different. Every time I did this, the Nelly would call out from her spot and override me.

Nelly is driven.

Nelly wanted to keep things simple because it was a busy day, and she wanted us to get things done.

Nelly is a quick decision maker and didn’t waste time in making her decisions known.

But Nelly also didn’t take into account new information – that we were running out of baguettes and it takes 10 mins to bake each batch.

Nelly didn’t want anyone else to disrupt her plan – even though making tostis would be quicker and feed all the hungry players between matches.

Nelly literally told the bar staff “I’m the boss and I say so”.

I guess Nelly might be an Insights Red type.

Nelly did not get the best of me that day.

Yes I took initiative and got us some extra volunteers because we were short staffed.

Yes I managed the flow between the kitchen and the bar.

Yes my guy in the kitchen was cool and efficient, and stayed unruffled.

Yes the guys handling all the orders served the right drinks to everyone and worked out a fantastic system with the only one till/kassa.

Yes parents and kids got served.

But we could have done better. There were key problems that could have been solved instead of managed.

I know I picked my battles. Yes I spoke with Nelly and tried to get her to let me run my shift. I decided getting her to agree right now was not the hill I wanted to die on: people needed feeding. So I got on with thigns.

And I may have muttered “well if that’s how Nelly wants it…” and left a problem unresolved. (very mature I know)

And I may have rebelled and made tostis/grilled cheese sandwiches anyway.(blind obedience is not my thing)

When I look back on that day I am reminded of all the other times in business where I have worked for someone who was driven, focused on getting things done AND didn’t bother to get input from their team.

The result has always been the same:

  • we barely get through the challenge and no one is happy
  • no one wants to be involved in a project with that leader again
  • high resistance to that leader and their initiatives
  • and a whole bunch of problems get left unattended
  • and a bunch of customers lose out

You know, we had 4 lunch orders that weren’t collected that day. That’s 4 sets of kids playing rugby who didn’t get to have lunch before their next match.

More haste less speed.

Here’s what I think Nelly did wrong. She was so worried about the day being unmanageable that she went into command and control mode.

And in a hectic busy situation, you need the qualities of everyone on the team.

Taking the short cut with the handover, skipping input from the whole team, cost us all.

This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership. Want to talk it through with me? Call me and let’s make a Game Plan together.