Have you noticed how Google Maps never yells at you if you take the wrong turn? It never raises its voice and says, “You were supposed to go LEFT at the last crossing, you idiot! Now you’re going to have to go the LONG way around and it’s going to take you SO much more time, and you’re going to be late for your meeting! Learn to pay attention and listen to instructions, OK??”
If it did that, chances are, a lot of us might stop using it. But Google maps never condemns or castigates. It simply re-routes and shows you the next best way to get there. Its primary interest is in getting you to reach your goal, not in making you feel bad for having made a mistake.
There’s a lesson for leaders (indeed, for everyone) there. It’s tempting to unload our frustration and anger on those who have made a mistake, especially those we are close to, and familiar with. But wise mentors and guides fix the problem, not the blame. Such people have three characteristics:
1) They ‘help us to see the lightning without feeling the bolt.’ In other words, they spare us the drama and help us see the error of our ways without making us feel like losers. They point out where we have gone awry, but without attacking our character.
2) Instead of just telling us what we have done wrong, they also help us do it right. In fact, they also show us how to do it right. As the poet Edgar Guest wrote:
‘The eye is a better student
More willing than the ear
Lectures can be confusing
But example’s always clear.’
3) They help us to learn what we need to, from the situation, turn disaster into teaching moments, and help us get the lesson. And like Google Maps, they help us ‘re-route.’
Have you had a “re-routing” moment recently? Or helped someone else have one? Do write in. We’d love to hear about it!
Have a great week!