Fine Lines: A Day in the Life Sunday

Most anyone can see the obvious. Let them have it. The obvious is too easy. I want the rest.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Photo credit: iStockphoto

The devil is in the details and it's the fine lines that get me thinking. Driving into work the other day, it hit me just how many "fine lines" there are circling around me at this very moment.

There's a fine line between:

  • Talking through an employee adverse decision you are making and violating due process
  • Wanting to give your child more than you had and spoiling her
  • Watching what you eat and changing your eating habits
  • Conduct that creates discontent and conduct that warrants discipline
  • Exercising and building strength
  • Talking about  <fill in the blank> and really knowing what you're talking about
  • A non-negotiable issue and a bad idea
  • Accepting your child as is and setting behavior expectations
  • Listening to understand and not speaking up when you should
  • Recognizing performance and playing favorites. Tip: Favorites perform.
  • Right and wrong
  • Writing to meet a deadline and writing to make a difference
  • Robust debate and bullying
  • Having a friend and being a friend
  • Choosing between one outfit in a snug size 6 (suck it in) and another in an 8

There's a fine line between age and aging and I am staying on the right side of this one today as I say good-bye to my 40s. Be inquisitive. Query, question and wonder. Don't run from what you find and tell me about a fine line on your mind today.

Performance Reviews and Leadership: Questions for Raters

As I spent most of the past week preparing performance reviews, it struck me that this is the very thing I was taking a break from doing 5 years ago when I decided to start up this blog and write my first post, It's So Hard.

Let's talk about hard. It's all relative. It's not the mechanics of reviews that are hard; it's the leadership reflection that can come with it. Writing a review is much more than crafting words for a page. At times <for me> it is nothing less than a review of my leadership.

What does that look?

Not really. Nor is it a crazy-haired psycho reliving each and every exchange or complete calm sitting cross-legged on a pillow with incense in the background.

It's more often me, with a cup of coffee and something Panera, asking a bunch of questions, questions I'd ask myself regardless of whether or not performance reviews live or die:

  • Did I set clear expectations or did I expect others to read my mind?
  • Did I address performance issues at the right time or did I get to them much too late? Was my response appropriate or did it bear the weight of a compilation of small indiscretions that no one was holding on to but me?
  • What issues did I avoid? Why? Did I mistake warning signs for nothing more than the drama of the moment?
  • Was I too focused on issues external to the department, expecting the department to run on   autopilot and surprised when it ran aground? Do I have enough checks, balances and internal controls to protect all of us?
  • Did I recognize achievement during the year? Did I provide the resources, guidance and room for others to excel? Did I hold others accountable for their own performance?

There are always things each year that, if given the chance, I'd do very differently. Sometimes I suck, sometimes not. Honestly, you'd think I'd have it down to a science by now. But I don't.

But that's the thing.

Leadership is not a science. It's not a laundry list of leadership courses, a degree from a prestigious college, the right car or anything wrapped in an ego. No hubris allowed.

Leadership is not knowing all the answers, it's asking the right questions and listening to the answers. Hint: that means not defending or denying what you are hearing and, above all, not attacking the messenger.

What questions would you add to the list?

Photo credit iStockphoto