In addition to the annoying day cricket (see Listen To The Day Crickets), our week in the mountains was interrupted four times by scorpions — those ferocious looking little arthropods that crawl around looking for something (or someone) to sting. One was successful, dropping from the ceiling onto a friend’s cheek in the middle of the night. There wasn’t any stage 3 or 4 sleep the rest of that night.
The scorpion species most common in the north Georgia mountains is the Vaejovis. Its sting is less painful than a bee or wasp sting. It’s even less painful than the stings we often inflict on each other with our words and attitudes. And, stings from a leader are the worst of all.
I have inflicted many a sting with my “That was good, but…” We perfectionists are never satisfied and all too often we make sure others know it. My wife has felt the sting of my “…good, but…” more times than I like to admit. Evaluating what can be done better is an important part of leadership, but it is best when separated from what was done right. It is less likely to sting that way.
Anger stings. Condescension stings. Stealing or not sharing credit stings. Being judgmental stings. Not listening stings. And so on…
It takes a lot of stings to kill the body, but not too many to kill the soul of the people you are leading. The last thing you need as a leader is the reputation of a scorpion.
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner
Ouch–I have struggled with the “that was good, but…” for years, thinking it was part of instantly inspiring to new levels. I see it can be disheartening. How does one deliver in a way that acknowledges improvement, but lets the person know that the bar is higher in a way that doesn’t have this backlash?
I think the best way is to separate the two discussions. Also, make “What we can do better?” a regular discussion so it doesn’t seem like it is pointed at a particular person. In the workshop we’ll talk about creating a culture that never never never says “It can’t get any better than this.”