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Grateful Now, But Wasn't Then

"One of the most universal cravings of our time," writes James MacGregor Burns, "is a hunger for compelling and creative leadership." There is so much to be grateful for as a leader and much of it comes from the challenges that shape us. As we enter this season of gratitude and gifting, I wanted to share what I’m grateful for now, but wasn’t at the time, and they have been some of the greatest gifts in my career.​

  1. I’m grateful for my “needy employee” for she makes me slow down and remember how eager she is to do a great job and how difficult it is to learn everything about the company, the industry and the role. It’s my responsibility to teach her, coach her and listen to her.

  2. I’m grateful for my “perfectionist employee”. He forces me to better communicate expectations and to know how to get him comfortable knowing that progressive improvement is better than postponed perfection.

  3. I’m grateful for my “demanding colleague”. He reminds me that no one does it alone, but for the company to succeed, everyone has to win their play. If I am not winning my play, I need to be held accountable.

  4. I’m grateful for the CFO who refused a salary increase request. She won’t let labor dollars get out of line with productivity. She reminds me that it’s my job to get the performance from the team and that throwing more dollars at them isn’t usually the answer (or the problem).

  5. I’m grateful for my underperforming employee. He forces me to look in the mirror and ensure that I have taught him our strategy, shared and coached to activities and given him the tools and training to be successful. If I haven’t, he isn’t underperforming, I am.

  6. I’m grateful for the budgeting process. For it reminds me how much of our operation is investing in people. That is a big responsibility and it’s mine.

  7. I’m grateful for the high performer that quit on me. It taught me that even the high performers, especially the high performers, need and deserve a lot of my time.

  8. I’m grateful for the high performer that I had to let go. While high performance is desired, it reminds me that upholding core values, and treating people with respect trumps everything.

  9. I’m grateful for that period of poor results. I realized it wasn’t the team that didn’t get it. It was my lack of understanding what the customers really needed. I’ve learned to stay close to the customers and the team serving them. If we get that right, it’s not likely there will be poor results.

  10. I’m grateful for HR saying no to the guy I wanted to hire. I clicked with him. I needed the spot filled. He didn’t meet our hiring criteria. I was not happy. Until they let me hire him. It was not a good fit. The hiring criteria, while not perfect, is a checklist I am grateful to have.

  11. I’m grateful for the employee engagement survey feedback. Some of the feedback was hard to hear but it forces me to see the company through the operating reality of each of my employees and take the time to provide the career support they need to stay and be successful!

  12. I’m grateful those difficult one-on-ones with my boss. I have blind spots. They’re only blind to me, though. I know I have things to work on and I am grateful for a boss who has the experience to see it and the courage to tell me.

We at Butler Street believe that self-reflection lies at the heart of effective leadership. I am grateful during this holiday season to be able to share the key learnings that have shaped me as a leader. Thank you for reading!


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