“I am saying this because I care.”
I know those were the words my manager said, yet I was not paying attention. Before uttering those she had delivered a blow to me that numbed me. She said “You will fail”.
I was appalled, offended, hurt. Not because of the statement (she was actually right, I did fail) though it was harsh, but because it felt as if she had meant to hurt me. Have you ever heard that only people who you really trust can really hurt you?
Well I trusted her, and she did hurt me.
I had taken a path she didn’t think was the best for me. The choice was not simple for me but I hadn’t doubted as much as I thought I would: she couldn’t provide for further growth on my career and I had seen an opportunity on another team, went after it and had gotten it. She knew better than me: I was not going after an actual opportunity but a way out of a position I had outgrown. She tried saying it in many different ways but frustration of not being able to communicate with me (I am stubborn by nature, and passionate when I’m after something) got to her and she blurted her opinion out.
It’s been more than 8 years since that moment and I still look up to her as a mentor and one of the few people I worked for that actually made a difference on me. She cared enough to follow-up after I got that job and after I lost it. She cares enough today to ping me when she’s in town or to ask for my opinion on certain matters. That kind of relationship, I’ve discovered, survives even the harshest moment you can have with someone.
Last week I was taking a sales training directed to Sales Managers and above. Some of the content was stuff I knew already, which made me feel confident I was doing things right but then the trainer, Silvio Rugolo, one of our Top Leaders at BMC, delivered a piece that is still frozen in my mind. The basic concept he shared with us was not new to me but the way he expressed it simplified it and added extra layers of content to what I thought of it. That is not a textual quote yet it captures the concept.
Before you can lead your team, before you can tell them what to do you must earn the right to do so.
So simple yet so powerful. He was talking about trust of course, and he spent a good deal of time going through his interpretation of the concept adding his knowledge and expertise. The basics all of us in the room knew were around how important it is to get your team to trust you and trust them back. No able Leader can lead people that just won’t follow after all.
The amount of trust you can harness from your team depends on you earning the right to lead them. Leaders are not anointed buy other leaders but actually chosen by those who he or she will lead and the first step for them doing so is earning that opportunity, trusting before you are trusted, sharing with them as they share with you, giving the extra mile, trying harder even before they start doing the same for you.
My manager told me what she thought, she shared with me her concerns about my future and even though I didn’t feel very good about it, I didn’t burn that bridge. She was able to say what she said for the same reason I was able to take it: she had earned the right to tell me so, to share her experience and point of view with me and advice me against an opportunity she clearly saw was not for me.
I still look up to her, wishing I can do the same for everyone that decides to work with me.
Also published on Medium.