I was reminded today the importance to lead with humility.
Imagine yourself walking into an extremely important meeting. A meeting in which you have prepared weeks in advance to ensure you have created a story that will resonate with those in attendance. A meeting in which you want to ensure you deliver value to those giving you their time.
Now imagine walking into this meeting only to realize that the main stakeholder is a former employee that you had to fire years ago in another organization.
How do you react? How do you act? How do you proceed?
I did what I always do…I smiled, introduced myself, and proceeded to try to share as much value as I possibly could in a 45-minute discussion.
During the Q&A session, this person decided to take a slightly different approach, they decided to try and “roast” me. They did their very best to try and poke holes in my viewpoint. They tried to discredit my experience and story. They even tried to prove me wrong.
I graciously accepted all of the questions.
I politely smiled and responded with dignity.
Lastly, someone else then asked me the following question:
“What is the one piece of advice you have for new leaders?”
I paused. I collected my thoughts. I responded from the heart with the following,
The best piece of advice I can share with new leaders is to remain humble. As you move into new roles, whether within this organization or another, you will need to assess if you have the right people in the right functions at the right time. You will need to make difficult decisions that will impact people’s lives as well as that of the organization. (Hospital, a medical technology company, etc.) It doesn’t mean you do not like a person. It doesn’t mean that you believe someone is incompetent. It doesn’t mean you think a person is doing a poor job. Being a leader means leading. It means making sure you have the right people with the best skill set doing the work to move the organization forward. Remember to be humble when making those decisions. Always remember to communicate those decisions with kindness, empathy, and humility. Remember to treat the other person with dignity.
I stopped, I turned to see the response from my former colleague, and I saw them nod in agreement.
At the conclusion of the meeting, I did not get a chance to shake their hand or to say hello. They had left the auditorium.
I did get an email. An email that apologized for their actions along with a thank you for treating them with dignity while needing to make a difficult decision as a leader.
Leadership, like healthcare, is delivered at the N of 1.
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