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The (Most?) Fundamental Leadership Question

Are you frustrated with some of the things you’re seeing around you at work?  Do you wish that “those people” (whomever they might be) would just get their acts together and give you the resources, support, time, etc that you need to do what you need to do?  Do you find yourself saying something like “If these freakin’ customers would just leave me alone, I could get my job done around here”?

Well…you are human.  I get that.  And we all have to deal with at least some people who need attitude adjustments–or maybe even lobotomies.

I get that, too.

Nonetheless, as valid as it might feel, finger-pointing is the last thing we should be engaging in–particularly if we aspire to be worthy of the handle, Extreme Leader.

There’s that old cliche that says for every finger you point at someone else, there are three pointing back at you. A little over-used, maybe? Kind of sappy? Yeah, I guess. But it’s still true. And it serves as a damn good reminder.

So, the next time you find your digit poking in some else’s direction, stop and ask yourself this (most?) fundamental of all leadership questions:

“What can I do, right now,

regardless of what anyone else around here is or is not doing,

to change my piece of this company/organization/world for the better?”

The solutions that pop out may very well surprise you.

Let me know what happens.

And don’t forget to watch your fingers.

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  1. Karen says:

    Imagine what life would be like if everyone would do what you suggested. I listen to complainers all day. Me, I say, “this is what I have to live with, how can I live with it, work around, and stay sane at the same time?” How we adjust to other people is what can make or break our happiness in a work place. Nice article!

  2. Kimberly Williams says:

    This topic was so timely for me.  I’m not usually a finger-pointer, but out of ‘extreme’ frustration with a major project, I blew my stack and launched an email with words that could be harmful to another.  I won’t say it wasn’t warranted, but I will say I wish I had reached out to the person 1:1.  Thanks for this reminder, and also let’s not forget the Golden Rule, do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves.  Another sappy saying that goes a long way in treating, and managing others…  Thanks for the insight and the sounding board!

  3. Randy T says:

    Perhaps the thing that distinguishes humans from other species is that we are very good learners.  But more than that we are capable of choosing what to learn.  Your post makes me remember that every day I get to choose what to learn. 

    Will I chose to learn helplessness or helpfulness. 

    If I try to change other people I will almost always learn helplessness if I try to change myself I have a good chance of learning helpfulness.

    • True! It’s practically impossible to change another person; however, we can significantly influence their behavior, etc by changing ourselves as an example.

  4. Perri_husted says:

    Every week I do an inventory of things I did this week that I am proud of (even though, no one may have noticed) and things I am no-so proud of (especially, if no one else noticed). This way I make sure I have a surplus in my Corporate Karma or  at least avoid over-drawing:-) 

  5. Steve,

    Start small and start with where you have the most control, YOURSELF.

    Awesome post!

    • Rick says:

      Great reminder, makes me think that I blew in criticising a few business folks in front of my IT team. As a leader I should have dealt with it face to face with the person or persons. Also, I now need to repair the damage done with my team.

      Again thanks for the reinforcement.