μεταcole

When In Doubt, Be Kind

Posted in all posts by coleman yee on December 30, 2012

I’ve been busier than ever since joining my current company 3 and a half years ago (which might help to explain my dismal average of less than posts per year on this in the past 2 years), and one of the things I’ve been learning more recently is in the area of leadership.

Leadership is not one of my natural talents, and in fact the idea of working with human beings used to be quite distasteful to me (the unpredictability and irrationality of humans unsettled me). This meant that being a leader of humans was naturally out of the question.

Fortunately, I work in an incredibly supportive environment with a wonderful CEO and really awesome colleagues, which makes it so much easier for me grow in my leadership. I’ve also been reading more and trying to put into practice what I’ve learnt about being a good leader. One of the quotes I’ve come across (I can’t remember where) is:

When in doubt, be kind. When not in doubt, be kind anyway.

It’s been on the back of my mind for months, and I’ve been meaning to put it into practice. Then recently, the opportunity came.

Our company was bidding for a contract that was practically already ours already. We were the incumbent, which in this case gave us a huge competitive advantage, and the client already had a great working relationship with us. Except that my colleague simply forgot to submit the bid. We lost that contract because of that.

Besides the pain of losing a major contract because of a very silly mistake, the client was very upset.

I wasn’t working directly with the colleague in question, but I could imagine my knee-jerk reaction – I’d probably be resisting the urge to blow my top, while sternly telling the perpetuator how unacceptable that was, and perhaps throw in some unsavoury consequences so that the lesson would be indelibly seared into the colleague’s neural pathways so that it would never happen again.

Not exactly a kind reaction.

Our CEO’s response, however, was quite different. There was no anger at all, and the CEO reminded us about the contributions of that colleague to the company. It reminded me of the quote I’ve been wanting to put into practice.

When in doubt, be kind.

When things go awry, it’s so easy to zoom in on that one negative incident and lose focus on everything else.

It may take a while before kindness becomes instinct , but I’m sure I can do a little better next time.

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One Response

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  1. Yvonne said, on January 2, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Hi Coleman, thanks for the great real story. Your CEO did very well by keeping cool and calm about the matter and even focused on the contributions your colleague has been, not this costly mistake. Many bosses would have blow up their top and ‘mark’ the person for this big mistake and disregard past contributions. What your CEO did has helped your colleague and others in the team to understand the importance of responsibility, teamwork and recognition of ongoing contributions in a gentle manner. Your colleague alredy felt bad as I believe it is not his/her intention for such thing to happen. Believe he/she will remember this episode and be much more vigilant at work so as not to let down the team.

    When emotions are touched, what happens is etched in the minds and will affect future actions. Leadership needs to be put into practice. Having a role model like your CEO is helpful. Everyone can be a leader in his/her own way as no individual is the same and no man is an island. What matters is having good intention, having empathy to people around us, and based on good intention, do proper execution of our actions as a team to bring benefits to people around us and to the business. Agree that being kind always does help oneself and others. Your sharing is a good reminder in a new year that we should be kind to others. Thank you.


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