Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Small Comments in Passing

A combination of personal and professional opportunities recently led me to say a very difficult good-bye to a group of individuals I'd grown immensely fond of. This is a team I had, to a large degree, built over more than six years.

I was humbled by the outpouring of good wishes, friendship, and respect shown to me in my final weeks with the team. I will take with me many, many fond memories of the accomplishments these folks achieved. I will be rooting for them from a distance to continue their path of excellence.

We all read and are told about the power of words to lift or to destroy. For several weeks, I received evidence of the truth of this belief.

Team members came by to say good-bye or retell certain events that occurred years ago. Many began with something like "I remember when you did..." or "The time you asked me (or said to me)...".

In many cases, I had only a fleeting memory of the conversation or action. However, something tangible remained in the mind of the person and affected them as a professional and as a person.

It was a humbling reminder that as a senior leader, my words and actions have impact, regardless of how small they seem to me. Your every action and every word can resonate deeply inside the other person. That is an awesome responsibility --- and an equally awesome gift.

I can't pretend to prescribe how to do this. Here are a few things for you to consider, though.
  • When you praise someone - mean it. Look them in the eye and tell them specifically why you are proud of them. Give them examples of what they did or said that is worthy of praise. If you aren't genuinely excited and proud of the person, then stay quiet until you are.
  • If you have to provide constructive feedback, do it because you believe in them and you know they can do better. Let them know that you expect more from them because you see more in them than perhaps they see in themselves.
  • Challenge them to excel not as a way to meet your goals, but as a way to help them grow. Along the way, your goals are going to not only be met, but in most cases be exceeded.

Don't be afraid to care about people on your team. After all, if you don't care about them, why should they care about you or your goals.

1 comment:

Derik said...


It was great working with you over the past 18 months. You are the 'developers boss' if there ever was one.

I hope your new journey leads you to great success and happiness.

Many thanks for all your advice over the past 18 months.