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Don't Overreact and Don't Care (pages 114-117)

Part One: Leadership Strategies, 2. Core Tenets, G. Don’t Overreact, H. Don’t Care, (pages 114-117)

G. Don’t Overreact

There will be times when things do not go as planned and people do and say things that are not reasonable. The good leader keeps their emotions in check. “Keep your opinions to yourself as you analyze, logically, what is actually happening.” Even when a timely decision is required, you need to pause to ensure you really understand everything that is going on. If you do overreact,”…anything you might say at that moment is based on incomplete and likely inaccurate information”. It will lead to poor decisions and erode trust.

I often tell my building principals, “Better a long decision, then a wrong decision”. Principals are inundated with questions as soon as they park their car at work in the morning with most expecting an answer on the spot. I remember when I was a principal, teachers knew when I arrived in the morning and would actually wait at my parking spot! However, the person asking the question would, intentionally or not, almost always omit crucial information. The principal must understand this and refrain from giving quick answers because of this lack of information. However, as the building leader, the principal typically wants to show that they are knowledgeable and want to be liked by their staff so they provide an ill-informed answer. However, too many wrong decisions will cause the staff to start to question the leadership skills of the principal. Take the time to gather additional information so that a decision can be properly made. This will take some time but will lead to better decisions, the building of trust, and a staff that not only likes the principal but respects them.

H. Don’t Care

In addition to not overreacting, another method of keeping your emotions under control is detachment. The ability to say “I don’t care” is a powerful tool, not only in negotiations but also in leadership. By saying, I don’t’ care, you are essentially subordinating your ego. Ego can be crippling characteristic, https://www.erikbentzel.com/post/check-the-ego. By saying you don’t’ care, you are telling those you interact with that you can set aside your personal beliefs because the success of the mission is more important. By allowing others to lead a project or performing menial tasks, you are building trust, leadership, and showing others your humility. “That’s right; to actually win strategically in the long game, you have to not care. And to not care, you have to set aside your ego.”

The saying “Not my circus, not my monkeys” was the first thing that came to mind when I read the title of this chapter. The ability to not take on other's problems/responsibilities is a valuable asset. However, this is not what this chapter is about. By saying I don’t care, you what you are meaning is that you care more about the success of the mission than your own beliefs and needs. In doing so, you are acting as a servant leader. I talk to my staff regularly on the need for us to be servant leaders. There are many great books on this subject, https://www.hatchbuck.com/blog/best-books-for-servant-leaders/. At its core, servant leadership puts the needs of the staff before the needs of the leader. In doing so, the staff becomes empowered. To successfully do this, the leader must have their ego in check. Ironically, in saying “I don’t care”, you are actually saying that you care so deeply about the success of the mission, you willing to do whatever is needed.

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© 2019 by Erik Bentzel. 

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