“DAD! He’s looking at me!” “DAD! She’s in my space!” “DAD! He ate the last cookie!” Okay, the last one was me. I ate the last cookie. I learned early on, as a parent, that I couldn’t insert myself into every tiff that my kids had. Nor could I shelter them from the outside world. If I did, I wasn’t really preparing them for real life and how to work things out with others or work in their environment. Quite frankly, there were many things that I just didn’t care about (mostly in the cookie category).
I think there are many parallels between parenting and leading people. Some might disagree but, in the end, I will call “SHENANIGANS!” on their argument and continue to believe what I believe. One such parallel is that of inserting ourselves into everything that goes on between our people and in their environment. When we insert ourselves in matters they can handle, we aren’t doing them any favors. People need to know how to figure things out. To help myself in this, I classify most things one of two ways:
- Things I care about
- Things I don’t care about
Generally, the things I care about are the things that immediately impact me and my ability to get the job done. This may seem a bit narcissistic and Chip-centric, but it’s not. I group into this category the health and welfare of my team; things and/or people that degrade morale; getting the job done; and creating an atmosphere where people feel valued. There are a lot more things I care about but these are a few.
In the category of things I don’t care about are excuses; what kind of car you drive; and that there’s no good food in the vending machine. Most of all, what I don’t care about is OPD (Other People’s Drama). (Kind of like with my kids.) With an ex-wife and teenagers, I have enough drama of my own. I don’t want to get sucked into the gaping black hole of who is doing what to whom and how I should get involved. Most drama has an expiration date and, if I involve myself, I’ve expended time and energy that could have been used elsewhere. Further, I’ve kept another from learning how to work it out.
All that being said, I am not against listening. As a leader, I am always open to listening. I will listen but will also save my energy where it is best suited. If it’s something that you can work out, you will be fully empowered to go forth, do good deeds and work it out.
Back fill me on how it went. Like I said, I’m happy to listen. If it is something that I need to be involved with, I will be.
(Note: In general, never tell someone you don’t care about their problem. Listen, ask questions, and then put them in charge.)
In the end, there are only so many hours in a day and so much energy that can be expended. Diluting yourself with things you don’t care about gives poor results and doesn’t empower others to make a difference for themselves. Figure out what you do and don’t care about and then step out smartly.