Thursday, September 8, 2011

Failing Leadership School

My company is sending me, and several other colleagues to Leadership School.  In preparation for this, we've been requested to fill out 360degree surveys on each other.  The 360 refers to the fact that these will be completed by people all around you--below, above, beside.

Many of the questions focus on people skills, such as, "Does this manager treat mistakes as opportunities for learning in a positive way?"

I think I failed that this past weekend.  We went camping with several friends, and through a series of events too complex to go into, we brought 3 extra children with us, in addition to our own two.  There were also two other families, with their own children in the group.

For breakfast one morning, several of the children requested noodle cups (fine by me--quicker and easier to boil water than cook eggs and bacon).  Two of the girls left their styrofoam noodle cups, with the dregs, on the table.  As I went to pick them up to discard, I realized they'd spilled noodles, broth, and vegetable matter all over the table around the cups.  I was peeved.  I might also have been a teensy bit stressed out about having 5 kids to track that weekend.

Anyway, I called the girls back, showed them the mess, and very sarcastically asked them, "Are you guys kidding me?  Is that how you clean up after yourselves?  Clean that up right now!"  The girls were properly apologetic, cleaned where directed, and promised not to do it again.

Looking over at DH to share an exasperated eye-roll, his expression of surprise made me replay the scene in my head.  Hmmm.  OK, I might have been a little harsh in my delivery of the message.  If they'd had a chance to fill in a 360 on my leadership style right then and there, I would not have scored very well.  Good thing I don't actually talk to colleagues that way!


  1. As you well know, I am not in the habit of mollycoddling anyone. If they were the same age as your own then they are old enough to clean up after themselves. Parenting does not equal maidservice. What were they doing that they made a mess in the first place? Everyone must learn to be responsible, it is called growing up. Do their parents still treat them like infants at home? My never to be mentioned again former sister-in-law was still cutting he childrens food for them when they were your sons age and we know what is going on there now. I say that you had every right to be displeased with their actions, but the bigger question is did they continue that conduct or did they pick up after themselves the rest of the trip?

  2. Well, I had a different take on the incident. If there was any look of surprise on my face, it was just that your bluntness was a little unexpected in a very warm-and-fuzzy trip with some of our best friends. But I was pleased you held them accountable--and the manner in which you did laid it out very clearly that those of us eating at that table were family (whether they happened to be our kids or not!). Families don't always mince words, but they _do_ care about each other and feel fine about reinforcing expectations when necessary.

  3. @Anonymous: they did indeed keep things clean the rest of the weekend. And after ruefully sharing the incident with their parents', I was fully supported in delivering the clean-up message in any way I saw fit.


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