The buck stops here!

No one you are leading should be upset with anyone leading you, or with the organization.

As an individual with leadership and supervision experience, I have encountered many situation where I had to deliver news to the people I was leading and I knew they wouldn’t like it, but I really want them to like me! Speaking from my own experiences, in some of those types of situations I passed the buck. I said things including:

  • “Management said that…”
  • “Campus says we need to…”
  • “My supervisor told me…”

Even if I didn’t come out and say it, sometimes I let people know through my tone of voice or body language that I didn’t support this decision and I knew they might not either. I wanted us to be on the same side. From a professional standpoint, this behavior can be viewed as cowardly and unprofessional. It doesn’t matter if you are leading volunteers, staff or providing leadership to stakeholders around an initiative. When we lead others, it is our responsibility to be accountable to the organization for the people we are leading. According to Michigan State University Extension, you are directly responsible for their understanding, attitude and behavior. They should not be confused, upset or misinformed, especially with someone who is leading you. If they are, you are probably blaming others (overtly or subtly) and not accepting full responsibility or accountability for your role.

The truth is, you can’t please everyone all of the time and some disagreement and spirited discussion is healthy. W.E.B. DuBois said, “Without struggle, there is no progress.” A former supervisor of mine was fond of saying that if two people are in business and they agree on everything, then one of them isn’t necessary.

The people we lead will not love every leadership decision and it doesn’t matter if it comes from you or those above you within the organizational structure. A mature leader expects this and has the ability to use the discomfort or disagreement of others to move forward.  Own what you say. Even if others don’t like it, they will eventually come to respect and trust your leadership.

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