Until very recently, women working in traditionally male roles like ranching and agriculture had to either wear clothes for men that simply didn’t fit, or women’s clothes they knew wouldn’t last or protect them properly.
Lisa was promoted and knew she would work hard to be a great manager. She had enough experiences, good and bad, to know what she didn’t want to do. But she had an immediate challenge in one of her employees, and had almost decided to find a way to let her go, to fire her. Something about having that kind of power, the ability to make a decision that would at least temporarily have a big impact on a person’s life, made her question her decision, thank goodness.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm in my car on the highway, stuck behind a big truck. I look up at the end car on the car carrier and pray it doesn't fall off the trailer onto my head."
Those words are the gift she gave me.
It took a few days, but then I realized how her analogy applied to my situation: For months I had been driving my car along the highway, stuck behind a big truck. Because I have a tendency toward being impulsive (don't laugh), I had been driving very close to the back of the truck. I had been so incredibly frustrated being stuck there, so I kept swerving out to check for an opportunity to pass the truck, only to find a blind curve or a line of vehicles coming toward me, so I had to swerve back behind the truck, more and more angry and impatient.
When I have an opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic as a keynote speaker or workshop facilitator, the first step I take is to describe what I lovingly call the Perception Gap.
That’s the gap between how you THINK you’re being perceived, and how people are ACTUALLY experiencing you.
Stories of Learning and Growth as a Leader
Just like many bosses before him, Rich Gassen was offered a management position without having ever been a manager, and without any training. Fortunate for his employees, he knew what he didn’t know, and took it upon himself to find the resources he needed to learn to do his job and do it well.
In my experience, the worst managers are the ones who think they have nothing to learn, and who don’t see themselves as their employees see them. Many take on the management style of someone they worked for, even if they disliked that manager, and complained often about their poor management and the disconnect with their staff.
But not Rich. Not only did he take advantage of the training opportunities and other resources available to him from his organization, he joined a group of managers that met regularly to share what they knew - and to complain. The dynamic changed in that group when they realized there were many other managers there who didn’t know what resources were available to them, and they decided to open up their informal group to create a more formal, active agency to help all managers improve.
In our conversation, we had a chance to talk about music, one of my favorite topics, of course. Here’s the link Rich promised to share, a song recorded in his time as a vocalist in a rock band called Madcity.