I’ve always had a certain amount of boldness around people I’m comfortable with—we all do. I’ve also projected a lot of confidence in situations with people I’ve been outranked by—because I’ve known what I was speaking about. But what about those situations where you have to make the tough decision with a best guess, unsure of what the outcome may be? Where you may not know what you’re doing? Well, I’ve often subscribed to the belief that you learn by doing so jump in. Lately I’ve felt that confidence to take the leap waning in my life—and I’ve been faced with an abundance of opportunities to make the tough decision.
I’ve learned that I don’t always want to be the one calling the shots in those circumstances. I’ve also learned the type of leader I want to be. I know we can’t always know the answer to every potential situation, but I do not want to put people in a circumstance where they have to make a choice blindly with heavy stakes on their shoulders. The truth is, this isn’t the person I thought I was. I thought I could handle the tough calls and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest but I find myself wavering and weighing all options to the point it is painful.
Does that make me a bad leader? I know some would say, yes, it’s not a leaders job to worry about the minutia to the point of delay. I actually believe that myself. But I also firmly believe that you can’t rest the fate of something on someone’s shoulders when they don’t have enough knowledge to make the decision. See, the other job of a leader is to educate, inform, assist, and equip people with the tools to perform. We often forget that now.
I had to run my first meeting with a new team today, a team I’ve only been working with for a few months. That may seem like a long time but there are so many details with this group and I’ve never seen the work prior to this. I’ve been learning their workflows while continuing to work with my other teams as well so I haven’t been as dedicated as I would like to be for learning an entirely new facet of my work. And today, my boss wanted me to steer the ship.
I did it. I ran it in my own imperfect way—stumbling along the way, admitting I didn’t know a few things, but I did it. I learned that sometimes taking the chance, being bold even when we don’t feel like it, is all that a team needs to see. I realized that there is a big part of me that is so scared of looking incompetent if I don’t know an answer. But taking the chance before I was ready, I also saw that my team isn’t looking for someone with all the answers—sometimes they just need someone to hear them out and work through it together. Coming at it from a place of mutual learning opens up space to communicate and evaluate what needs to be done. Plus there is that feeling of finally doing it which makes the experience less scary the next time.
The best thing I realized is that, I haven’t taken chances like this in a while. There is value in taking chances, even the chances that you don’t feel comfortable taken. We’ve spoken about this before, I know, we just need a little reminder from time to time. Plus when you take the chance, it changes things up and then the next opportunity shows itself. You want to change your life, you have to say yes to things you wouldn’t normally consider. So, I’m grateful for the reminder to start saying, “Yes” more often. What can you say, “Yes” to?