Have you ever been asked to accomplish something that you thought was impossible? Have you ever resented the person making the demand? It’s a complaint I hear frequently.
Whether the impossibly high expectations come from a boss, spouse, child or friend- there are plenty of people who struggle to move mountains so as not to disappoint others. Yet, as leaders we have a responsibility to our people to make sure that we set them up for success and not failure, and that includes managing their workload and level of stress.
There’s an old story about a famous circus performer that made a name for himself by undertaking highly dangerous feats.
One day, upon completing an ill-advised stunt during which he navigated a tightrope over Niagara Falls in appalling wind and rain, “The Great Zumbrati” was met by an enthusiastic supporter who urged him to make a return trip, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, which the spectator had thoughtfully brought along.
The Great Zumbrati was reluctant, given the terrible conditions, but the supporter pressed him, “You can do it – I know you can,” he urged.
“You really believe I can do it?” asked Zumbrati.
“Yes – definitely – you can do it!” the supporter gushed.
“Okay,” said Zumbrati, “Get in the wheelbarrow…”
Monday Morning Perspective:
“The day that I am afraid to do that is the day I am no longer fit to lead.”
– Nelson Mandela
It is certainly one thing to set expectations of our team and to challenge them to achieve lofty goals. It is another thing completely to demand that others do something that we could not do ourselves. It robs the leader of the ability to motivate through trust, and it robs the employee of the ability to respect those in charge.
In every situation in which we place demands on others, it is imperative that we ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable if it were my behind in that wheelbarrow?” If not, it’s time to reevaluate our requirements. If so, people will be amazed what your team can accomplish when they know that their leader has a little bit of their own “skin in the game”.
Have a wonderful week!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.