Leaders reassure

He made a mistake. An obvious one. One you can’t shove under the carpet and ignore. That one mistake led to several more. Flustered, the mistakes seemed to intensify and compound.

He made these mistakes in front of 200 audience members. Some in the audience were his peers. Most were his elders. 

Imagine yourself there. Standing in front of a big audience and making big mistakes. It’s the stuff that fuels night sweats and informs fiction.

At one point it became too much to overcome and he stopped. He looked for help from his band instructor. The band instructor said two words.

“It’s OK.”

With that, the student took a breath. You could see his shoulders drop and his confidence reappear. He finished the solo. The audience clapped. 

All the student needed in that moment was a bit of reassurance. He needed to know that somebody had his back.

Sometimes all we need from you is a bit of reassurance. If we are working on hard stuff that matters eventually we will make a mistake (or several mistakes). 

We don’t need judgement. We don’t need your brilliance. We don’t need your comments. 

We only need you to tell us that it’s OK. When we know you have our back, we will have your back. 

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 December 18, 2019

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