One of the most important things a leader can do is to say, “You’re right. That stinks.”
This morning, amidst the hubbub of our typical getting-the-day-started activities, our dog decided to defend our back yard from a skunk. The skunk won.
Overwhelmed by the intensity of the smell, my teenage daughter whined and moaned, saying, “It stinks!” All I could do was agree, and say, “You’re right. It stinks. We’ll do what we can to clear the air. But, for now, we just have to put up with it.”
What does this have to do with making work fun? Everything.
There is a management theory that states you should never allow those you lead to know that you disagree with a decision made at a higher level. I disagree with this wholeheartedly.
Have you ever worked for someone who refused to acknowledge that the current situation stinks? That something was just plain stupid? I have. It’s annoying.
Admitting that you disagree does not mean you openly dissent or refuse to abide by that decision. It simply says, “I disagree.” Nothing more.
When a leader admits they are not happy about a decision or situation, it gives those they lead hope. Yes, hope. Hope that at some time a better decision might be made. Hope that effort will be applied to changing the situation. Hope that given the right opportunity, your boss might try to influence a change in the situation. Hope that in the meantime, we can wait this out together.
As I sit here in my home office, this situation stinks. There’s nothing more I can do about it for now, but I have hope.