Last week, during my organization's monthly corporate IT Committee meeting, I asked a member of the admin team who was assisting me with the meeting (let's call her Christine) to make sure one of the IT Committee members was invited to a meeting being held the next day.
I assumed that Christine would just invite this person to the meeting. I figured it was a done deal. But instead of sending an invitation to this person right off the bat, Christine confirmed with her boss, the program manager overseeing the project, that this person should be invited.
After speaking with the program manager, Christine e-mailed me to ask me if I really wanted this person to come to the meeting. On reading her message, I shook my head in frustration and asked myself, 'Why do people not follow my direction?' I then went to have a word with program manager, but he was not in. I ran into Christine, and to be frank, I told her very firmly that I expected people to follow my direction, not challenge it.
In hindsight, as frustrated as I was about the situation, I took my frustration out on Christine, who was just trying to do the right thing by asking her boss whether he wanted this IT committee member invited. The message I had sent to her was not intended for her. It was intended for the program manager.
I realized that I had shot the messenger and that I needed to right this situation: I needed to apologize to Christine. I explained to her that I should not have taken the issue up with her, that I should have spoken with the program manager, and I apologized for speaking to her in the way I did. I think at first Christine was shocked that I would actually apologize for what I did, so I confirmed that she understood what I was saying and that she was satisfied with the resolution. She thanked me for my apology and confirmed that she was satisfied that I had resolved the issue. An issue she probably felt she had to just sweep under the carpet thinking that I would never apologize. I felt a lot better after I talked with Christine. I was free of the guilt from shooting the messenger.
I share this experience with you to remind you not to shoot the messenger and to encourage you to make it right if you do. Have you ever shot the messenger? Were you able to effectively right the situation, or did your knee-jerk reaction undermine your leadership? I've told you what happened to me. Let me know what's happened to you.
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