Today I stood up to a guy right in front of his boss. I challenged him, the former leader, to change his position and give up his position of power. He had fallen from that position though no fault of his own, yet, he didn't deserve the power that he desired.
Yep! I challenged a 5 year old today, right in front of his dad. Here's what happened:
Jason, this little boy who I challenged is at school first nearly every day. He takes his rightful position of line leader. This means that he is the first boy in his class to enter the school after the kids walk in a straight line in from the parking lot; where they say The Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Today, as in the last few days, my son Jeremy and I thought that he was going to be first but right before he got there, another boy landed the coveted position. Today, it was another boy, Cory. Every day, my son Jeremy takes the second spot and doesn't grumble.
Today, the first kid was Cory, and Jeremy was second. When Jason arrived, he plopped his backpack on the line right in front of Cory. I started chatting with his dad and his son got comfortable. That's when I had a decision to make. Did I challenge the kid in front of his dad? Was it fair that he gets used to being the leader every single day even though he didn't deserve it today? I decided YES.. I was willing to challenge his position.
So I said to this 'future leader of America', "you know Jason, you're going to have to get behind Jeremy today because you weren't here first today". I turned to his dad and said, "Yah, you know how important the line leader is in kindergarten!" I then said to Jason, "Jeremy wants to be the line leader every day, and you beat him every day and so you get to be it! Today it's Cory's turn since HE was first". At the very suggestion that he wasn't going to be in the first position, Jason tried to enroll his father at taking his position. He told him he WANTED to be the line leader? PLEEEAASE!!" His dad made him move and Cory moved back into first. Jason wasn't happy, but he obliged.
Okay, so maybe I stuck my nose in a place where it didn't belong. Maybe I'm pushing competitiveness among the kids. But, perhaps it's what gets my son MOVING in the morning. It's the GOAL that he wants to achieve. He WANTS to be line leader. He WANTS to get dressed because he might get to lead the line into the school that morning. So for us, it's worth it to get rewarded for a job well done. It's my way of teaching Jeremy goal setting and how good it feels to accomplish what he achieved.
I liked it also how the parent accepted my challenge. He was fine with my correction and he supported me. Of course I was nice about it, but I keep hearing how parents aren't doing what is right by their kids. So many of them don't WANT to interfere and so they don't. Could it be that they just don't want to take responsibility? As parents, we should be willing to be involved. After all, we are their role models.
Yes, I stuck my neck out for the kids. I didn't let the usual leader return to his position when he didn't deserve it. And I know that tomorrow, Jeremy WILL be the line leader, even if we have to get up 1/ 2 hour early!
How about in your life? Is there anyone in your company that doesn't deserve to be where they are? Are they still in a position that they shouldn't be? Have you been patient long enough?
Have you considered that it might be time to demote that person and to ask them to take a step backwards? Is there someone you need to encourage to go into counseling? Is there anyone whose drinking habits are running interference with their work? Do you think it may be time to realize that they are doing more harm than good to your company?
Managing people takes care, concern and a lot of planning. It takes dedication to knowing the strengths of the people you manage and knowing what they can handle and what they can not.
And when you approach the leader who isn't pulling his weight or needs a bit of encouraging to get with the program, make sure you are direct, sympathetic, and of course respectful.
Because who knows, YOU may be the next one who will be challenged to wake up and get going.
Mary Gardner is an Executive Communications Consultant and Coach. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She enjoys seeing the best come out in people and has fun in the process. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5 and lives in Orlando, FL.
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