A Daily Dispatch from the Front Lines of Leadership.

Our daily Field Notes email is just the kind of jumpstart you need. A fast read. Maybe less than a minute. Because sometimes it just takes one insight to change the trajectory of the day.
As it turns out, the adage “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” is true, especially when it comes to teams. Because we overweigh negative information and are open to counterarguments, negativity in the workplace can quickly become contagious. It only takes one loud voice away from the table to raise the doubts and suspicions of otherwise satisfied colleagues. Over time, the incessant complaints of one or more team members can undermine team morale and cast a shadow on the leader’s credibility.
Instead of waiting for their turn to offer a view, the best leaders listen deeply to others without forming an opinion or thinking about their own counterarguments. Listening for analysis and empathy are very different ways to understand people and problems. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know we can never do both at exactly the same time. Sometimes, we can be too smart for our own good.
Working with highly critical leaders is an unpleasant experience. Leaders who polish the skill of criticism by always looking for faults do little to improve performance or enhance the skills of others. Too bad they don’t understand how much their constant criticisms actually detract from what they are seeking. Highly critical leaders reap what they sow: team members who spend more time staying out of target range than performing to the best of their abilities.
Leaders who remain steadfast in their commitment to keep their options open usually make better decisions. By waiting for the last possible moment to make a major decision, good leaders show respect for the changing marketplace and prevent committing to a path destined for failure. Optionality also allows them to account for the implications and unintended consequences associated with any decision. The push and pull of competing viewpoints regarding decisiveness benefits both sides. Unfortunately, for good leaders, the bad rap they receive for not always being decisive is a drum that never stops beating. Yet another reason why leadership is both thankless and hard.

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