I recently had the opportunity to attend a lecture called “Why Just Manage When You Can Lead?” by Ray Barishansky. There were many little leadership morsels and treats to delve into a little deeper in future blogs, but today I’d like to focus on one in particular that keeps rearing it’s head in my life.
Leaders complain up, not down.
I am a member of the leadership at my agency. I was having an impromptu conversation about my frustration with some of the actions of the other leaders with a peer in the leadership group. We really got going about what got us heated. At one point I suddenly remembered the three or four other employees that were in the room watching TV… and probably listening to our bitchfest. The class immediately came to mind and I felt like an idiot.
What did our conversation do to influence the other employees’ view of our agency?
How did our conversation affect their trust in the leadership?
Who do you think they will go tell now?
The clip above from Saving Private Ryan really illustrates this idea. Complaints should go up the chain of command where they can be addressed. Otherwise, complaints just stagnate your agency and bring morale down, particularly when an agent of change is doing the complaining. That is no good for anyone.
Whether you are already in a position of leadership or aspire to be, be aware of what you say and where you are saying it. Words are power with both good and bad outcomes. Mom’s advice still stands, “If you don’t have anything nice to say… don’t say anything at all.”