One of the best pieces of advice that I ever received was to handle my private business in private. The message is pretty clear. If you have a confrontational moment with a team member, spouse, child, etc., hold the drama until you are by yourselves.
However, it is also one of the hardest lessons that a leader needs to learn. An insecure manager will look to handle a perceived mistake by a coworker in a public way- proving to their management that they were not at fault. They look for a scapegoat for a situation that did not go their way.
A leader looks at the situation and decides to handle the issue behind closed doors. They realize that public humiliation is the worst thing that can do to anyone as it affects not just that team member, but the whole team. Instead of a confident bunch of members, they are all worried about when it is their turn to be embarrassed.
A leader will work to rectify the situation without assigning public blame. They will fix the issues and make people comfortable that issue will not happen again without throwing someone under the bus. They realize that we all make mistakes and that pointing them out benefits no one.
A leader also defends their team when someone else decides to publicly humiliate a team member. One of my favorite sayings is “I can call my baby ugly, but you can’t”. Remember your team is watching how you handle this situation and will decide whether they want to follow your lead.
Grace under fire is the most important public trait of a leader. Not every day is going to be the Fourth of July. Sometimes it is Black Monday. How you react separates you from the crowd.
This is not to say that you need to be weak on how you handle issues. Once you are behind closed doors, you need to make sure the person understands where they went wrong, how they can correct it, and how together you can work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Yelling and screaming will not get your desired result- calculated conversation will. Be smart in how you discuss the situation so that it ends up being a teaching moment. More than half of the time spent by a leader should be on instructing how to raise the bar for the team. When they make a mistake, it is the best time to put that into action.
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