Recently, I accepted a promotion into my first senior manager role. Shortly after the announcement was made, my current team surprised me in a staff meeting with a jar full of colored paper strips. On the sly, they had assembled a collection of thoughts, attributes, ideas, or sayings they had come to associate with me during my two years on their team.
I haven’t read them yet. I’ve had them on my desk at home for a couple weeks, thinking over whether I was ready for that kind of feedback. Not that I think there will be anything horrible in there. It was a challenging period of time for everyone, but I felt like we had a good team going by the end, and that my participation had been helpful.
It was just that, as I looked at the jar and got ready to open it, it occurred to me what a really choice moment this could be. As leaders we all try to inspire, to create a vision for what the organization and its individuals are capable of. We hope that the vision is shared and that it may contribute in some way to increased performance and success by the group.
That is, after all, the value proposition of management: that our contributions create an environment around our teams where more value is produced than would otherwise be. Here in front of me was a jar full of what my team had absorbed, what they had come to associate with my leadership. I know what I had tried to communicate. But how had it really come across? Did it retain the essence of what I had intended? Had it grown into things I could never have anticipated?
I am going to open the jar tonight and read one of the strips. In my next post, I will share what it says, and my recollections about the circumstances that might have fixed its contents in the mind of whoever submitted it. I’m a little nervous, but I am also excited to see what sort of influence I might have had, especially if they were able to make more of my simple efforts than I had ever intended.