Avoid Leadership Malpractice

“Before I do anything I ask myself, ‘Would an idiot do that?’and if the answer is yes, I do not do that thing.”Dwight Schrute, The Office


Years ago I went with a girlfriend as her "plus one" to her company party. I immediately thought I had wandered into an episode of The Office.

It was  M I S E R A B L E.

The "team" had scheduled the time together and by hook or crook they were going to have fun. The boss was running the show and he seemed oblivious to the rolled eyes when he spoke. He barely noticed people slink away to check emails or leave altogether.

Perhaps the awkwardness was terrible because the team didn't enjoy each other, but I have seen a similar dynamic play out at home and with friends. Under specific conditions, being together feels like a forced march through mud with a pebble in your shoe on a 100-degree day.

Unfortunately, these circumstances aren't limited to parties. We feel the "get me out of here"  at family dinners, team meetings, company outings.

There are plenty of ways to destroy fun and kill camaraderie, but the quickest are to:

  • Move too fast
  • Schedule too much
  • Put your pleasure at the center of an activity

Every leader fails occasionally, but there should be some sort of leadership malpractice when a team is in perpetual dread of a leader's plans. If you are responsible for others, there are simple ways to counteract the drudgery and ratchet up the fun.  Begin with these three basics:

  • Set modest goals
  • Build in margin
  • Prioritize serving your team (not making them serve you)

You don't have to make huge adjustments, just dial back the over-developed sense of urgency. In the process, not only will the results be more enjoyable, you will likely discover what's really important.

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