Are you frustrated with leading? Are you tired of mistakes made by those you lead? Do you always have to clean up the mess left by others? There’s an ancient proverb that says “Where no oxen are, the stable is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.”
Disappointment is a regular emotion with many leaders. We don’t understand why others don’t take pride in their work the way we do; why they don’t see what we see or don’t handle the customer the way we know they should, etc. etc.
Two possible responses to this frustration and exhaustion are:
- Give up and stop trying; just do your part and let things fall where they may. You have tried everything you know to do and it just remains the same–the same problems, the same issues and the same mistakes over and over again. If you are reading this or other leadership blogs and searching for answers, this response is probably not acceptable for you. You probably lean towards this quote “Losers quit when they are tired. Winners quit when they have won.” So we will go response #2.
- Good leaders start with an evaluation process that asks: What are the issues driving these problems? Where is the breakdown between the performance I expect and the performance I am getting? Is it a lack of experience? A lack of training? Is it poor communication? To properly evaluate these questions, we must each start with ourself. Am I hiring the right people? Am I providing the training and the resources for them to be successful? Am I clearly communicating the goals and expectations? Am I providing the vision, inspiration and motivation to drive the results desired?
Once we identify the right questions to ask, it’s time to ask those who are frustrating us—those we lead. It’s amazing how many leaders do not talk to those they lead about sensitive issues. Rudy Giuliani says “Confronting a problem is the first step in solving a problem.” We need to remind ourselves that most people want to do a good job. We as leaders need to find out why they don’t.
Back to the proverb—“Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.” People make messes! We are imperfect human beings who will make mistakes. The other option is we can do it all ourselves and then you only have to clean up after yourself. But if we want to generate great revenues, it will come with many followers. We just need to have a big shovel and “whistle while we work”.