Just Say It #7 - You're Allowing It To Happen

by Tim Sackett | Posted | Leadership

Just Say It #7 - You\'re Allowing It To Happen

There's a popular phrase used primarily by football coaches that goes like this:

"You're either coaching it, or you're allowing it to happen."

The concept is fairly simple. You have a player who is lazy and not giving his best effort. As a coach, you are either coaching the player to be lazy, or you as the coach are allowing it to happen. So if you need a player to run a seven-yard pass route and he runs a 9-yard pass route, you're either coaching this behavior, or you're allowing it to happen.

I love this mentality! I love that as a leader, manager or supervisor, this one phrase puts everything back on your shoulders. No blaming anyone else. Full responsibility on what you control. You, and you alone, are teaching that it's okay to do whatever it is your team is doing, or you, and you alone, are allowing this to happen. On your watch.

It's the core of accountability

Accountability has seemed to fall out of fashion in recent years. Apparently, the "kids" don't like being held accountable. Actually, I don't know many people, young or old, who like being held accountable. So, to replace accountability, we've gone with the much more popular, "let the inmates run the asylum" leadership philosophy!

The other piece of this I'm in love with is that it doesn't allow me, as a leader, to be a victim. I hate the victim mentality and it's one of hardest things as new leaders to pull ourselves out of. You can't be a victim if you only give yourself these two options:

  1. I'm responsible for the behavior that is currently happening because this is what I believe in.
  2. I'm responsible for this behavior because I'm allowing it to happen, even though I don't believe in it.

By choosing one of those options, you're holding yourself accountable. If all of your managers in your company only live by this one phrase your entire organization would be exponentially better overnight!

Put this philosophy into action

The big question is how do we get ourselves and our leaders to live by this credo? Here are some tips that might help:

  • Give each other, as leaders, a gift - and do it often. What's the gift? A reminder of the behaviors we all desire to live by, with positive intent behind the words! Done correctly, this is so strong and we all feel like we have each other's backs.
  • Manage individually first, not by the group. As leaders, we see the wrong behaviors of an individual but instead of addressing those specific behaviors we'll shoot off an email to the entire group. All this does is annoy all the employees who are actually doing the right thing, and let the individual the message was directed at off the hook: "She's not talking about me!"
  • Don't allow yourself to held hostage. What does this mean? You are allowing a bad behavior within your team because you're worried someone might leave. They are holding you hostage. Sometimes this takes some time to recognize, but as soon as I do, I terminate the individual that's holding me hostage. I was allowing myself to be held hostage!

You're either coaching it, or you're allowing it to happen. Simple. Effective. Empowering.

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