Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from David Specht’s book, “Old Dogs, New Tricks” available on Amazon.
I once heard a sermon on the rights of a Christian. The preacher spoke about how we lose some of our perceived rights the more we try to live the Christian life.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:32 NIV
As I was taking notes, I realized these same rights applied to leaders.
1. The right to be a jerk. No one really has the right to be a jerk. However, some people are given a “pass” because of their position, or lack of position in an organization. However, when the leader is a jerk, the ripple effects reach a lot farther.
2. The right to be right. Sometimes, we are right — dead right. It may be a political view or a customer service issue, but leaders do not have the right to just speak their mind. We have to “count the cost” in how we handle situations. Our actions (and words) have consequences.
3. The right to criticize and complain. In the workplace, this is called gossip. Dave Ramsey defines gossip as, “discussing anything negative with someone who can’t help solve the problem.” For leaders, this can include venting to close subordinates or co-workers. All problems should be handled either laterally or vertically. Anything else is unacceptable. If you need to vent, do it with a non-work friend or your spouse.
4. The right to justify your actions based on who you are. This is one of the most difficult for leaders. They deal with pressures that many team members have no clue about. However, just because you are under pressure does not give you the right to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. Nor does it give you the right to treat others as if they were somehow inferior.
5. The right to be late. Chronic tardiness to scheduled meetings and events is one of the most selfish things a leader can do. This action screams, “My time is more valuable than yours!” Chronic lateness is a slap in the face to every member of your team. In addition, it erodes any accountability for your team’s promptness.
6. The right to not care about people. True leaders realize their teams are more than the skills they bring to the job at hand. They are husbands, wives, families and others — all relying on the organization for their livelihood. They are not numbers on a financial statement. They are people and every decision should have them as one of the — if not THE — highest priorities. The same is true for customers and clients. If we lose sight of them as people, we lose our business.
The higher up you rise in leadership, the less rights you have, but the satisfaction and difference you can make as a result is well worth it.
David Specht is editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.