John Moore recently shared this fascinating leadership story:
When I was first promoted to a Vice-President, almost immediately, I had to make an extremely difficult decision. There was a regional manager who was on my team that had been given a 90 day action plan. The day I was promoted, his 90 days were up. My boss, along with HR, told me to terminate him. I refused to do so. I was on my second day of the job, and if he was going to be terminated, it should have been done by my boss/hr, and not me. I extended his action plan so that I could make my OWN determination about his ability to do the job. I worked with him. In 6 months, his region went from number 9 to number 3 in my division. 2 years later, he was promoted to a VP and now he is the SVP. This weekend, he called to thank me for believing in him and not firing him. It made me smile.
1. As leaders, never be afraid to RESPECTFULLY push back if you feel you are being asked to do something wrong or unethical.
2. As a leader, you OWN your people. It is your job to do what is right for them.
3. Every now and then, it is not the employee who needs coaching on how to perform, it is the leader, who needs coaching on how to be a leader.
4. Lastly, as a leader, you should always seek to coach people up first instead of coaching them out.
I know a lot of “leaders” that wouldn’t have had the leadership skills necessary to do like John Moore did. They would have folded to HR’s request and let the employee go. No doubt it’s a hard position to be in when you were just promoted and your boss is asking you to do something, but to respectfully push back was worth doing for this boss’ reputation as well.
I loved John Moore’s 3rd point above too: “Every now and then, it is not the employee who needs coaching on how to perform, it is the leader, who needs coaching on how to be a leader.”
That’s an important leadership lesson in itself. Sometimes we have to look inward at our own inadequacies before we start pointing the finger at everyone else. That’s what great leaders do.
Have you ever been in a challenging position like this as a leader? What did you do? What did you learn?