Credit where credit is due

Been taking a little break in the run-up to the holidays, so my apologies to those of you dying to hear the next installment in my mason jar performance evaluation series…all three of you.  🙂

In the meantime, I wanted to share something I almost did really wrong today.  I was handed my first impossible mission for next year.  You know, one of those things where you’ve spent months on a business case, one of the few where the factors are clear and there really is a compelling course of action.  You might even have taken that compelling strategy all the way to completion, then been told we are going to go back and completely reverse that approach, that we are being driven by less tangible considerations into a strategy that does not have the business case as it’s central driver.  So please come up with a justification for going back to the way we used to do it.

Anyway, not the point.  One of my staff came by as I was roughing out my strategy for tackling this project next year.  She is not directly involved in the staffing model I was about to deconstruct, but was interested in what I was working on, so we chatted about the dilemma.  In one of my proposed models, she mentioned a way it might fill a need in another area where we didn’t currently have enough labor allocated.  It was a brilliant and elegant fix that could make the whole thing a huge win.

I didn’t intentionally rethink this as my idea.  It’s just that the comment was so off-hand, and I was still so in the mode of teaching her about the issue, that I didn’t realize she was making a suggestion for a solution.  After she left, I sat down to process what we had talked about and one of the things she had said triggered something that felt a lot more like my own idea.  It took a real deliberate effort to stop myself and wonder if that wasn’t the suggestion she meant all along.  There was literally a moment where my brain was stuck between telling my boss what a great idea I had, and going to my employee and asking her if “my” fix was what she had in mind when she made her comment.

Who and what we are as managers and leaders is nothing more or less than the sum total of what happens in these split second moments.  Happily, today I got it right.