The other day I had one of those moments where I failed as a leader, friend, and coach. I’m not sharing it on my blog because I want sympathy but more to share with you the lessons I learned. My hope is that I will “fail forward” from this experience and not repeat the behavior which caused it to occur. The day started on track with helping get the kids to school, the dog fed, and dishwasher unloaded. As my day at work progressed though I quickly found that I had piled my coaching and training sessions too close together and my margin time was evaporating quickly.
Just as I finished one session and was about to begin another, one of my team members stepped in and asked me if I had a minute. I told him no and I did not have time to speak to him. I barely looked up from my coaching notes to address him. When I did, I saw he was not doing well and looked emotionally distressed. I’m pretty sure at this point I rolled my eyes and I told him he had one minute. I was thinking this was a self-inflicted emergency situation and I was going to be asked to solve it right away. (By the way, I don’t always think that but yesterday was just one of those days).
As he came into my office and shut the door he explained to me his daughter had just had a medical emergency and needed her dad to be with her for support. He started to tear-up and asked if I was willing to meet with a client this weekend to get a signature on a contract. A simple request from a father that just wanted to tie up loose ends before going to be with his daughter.
Of course my heart immediately sank and I felt terrible for my thoughts and the words I used just moments ago. I had failed as a servant leader and forgotten three timeless principles:
- Know your team.
- Make yourself available to people.
- Be in the moment when talking to someone.
My response to this person made me take pause and remember just how important all of these principles are, but especially making yourself available to people. I was so consumed with everything going on in my world; I nearly ruined a relationship by not allowing someone take up a short moment of my time when they needed it most.
We ended up talking for a while and I told him I’d be happy to help. I’m still wondering how he felt when I snapped at him and told him he had one minute. As I said, my hope is that I fail forward from this experience and that you can learn from it to.
Make yourself available today!