Leadership+Resilience

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The tire manager’s mistake

I overheard the conversation while waiting in line. Somebody who gave me the impression they were the tire manager at a local Costco was talking to a tire worker. I was trying my best to politely eavesdrop. I could tell it was a tense conversation. The tire manager was talking to his worker about his behavior (it sounded like something recently went awry). The tire worker was pushing back, insistently. The younger tire manager then started to slightly lose his composure. That’s when it got good (not for either of them, but for me as the eavesdropper). The tire manager started to raise his voice a bit at the tire worker and the tire worker dug his heels in even deeper (classic). Soon after, they parted ways. Clearly, the problem wasn’t solved. If I were coaching the young tire manager I would have asked him a question: Be specific and tell me what you want? I would have asked him that because the tire manager never once clearly stated what he wanted to the worker. He did talk a lot about what he didn’t want. We do this because it’s always easier to highlight problems than convey solutions. When we are working with our people we have to be clear about what we don’t want, yes, but we have to spend way more time being clear about what we do want.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on May 3, 2019

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