How many times have you thought you were doing the right thing only to leave the situation feeling like you were punished as a result of that? Of course it isn’t that you are being punished but when the situation ended the outcome wasn’t what you expected.
All great leaders know that sometimes when you do the right thing the reward doesn’t always materialize. That should not stop you from doing the right thing but I suspect it often leads to that. There is a popular saying that floats around from time to time that says “do first, ask forgiveness later”. I am often pressured to act in this manner and there are times where it is acceptable but usually it is not.
When deciding should I do first and ask forgiveness later ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this worth losing my credibility?
- Can I afford to lose trust I’ve worked so hard to establish with other people?
- Would you want your staff to act in this manner and if they did how would you respond?
- Can I afford to jeopardize my position within this organization?
- Is this the behavior I want others to model?
If you can’t answer yes to those questions then doing first is probably not the right approach to this situation. Remember that as a leader you set the example. If your followers observe you doing first and asking forgiveness later that it exactly what they will do. Since you are ultimately accountable for their actions, the outcome could affect you as well.
As you go about developing and growing people, do so in a manner that is attributed to leadership excellence. Growing and developing people to do first and ask forgiveness later will only cause more problems in the future. As you go about growing and developing the next set of leaders make sure they will be among the finest. Teach those you are charged with growing to always do the right thing. Praise them for doing so even when the outcome wasn’t what they were hoping for.
I will close this post with a quote from Henry Longfellow – “It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.”
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