It was wrong. It was inappropriate, and all those who were in the meeting and heard the exchange were awkwardly quiet…
The young executive had allowed his self-confidence to ramp out of control. He had been blatantly disrespectful toward his boss in front of others. It would have been no surprise if this executive’s career path had been significantly downgraded in this large Fortune 500 company. To his credit, he later realized his mistake and offered a sincere apology to his senior executive boss.
It is in moments like these that true leadership is defined. This seasoned executive had a decision to make. He could have chosen to “make an example” out of this young stallion. He could have punished him, suspended his job, or stalled his upward moving career in the company. Who would blame him? Here was a senior executive who had been embarrassed in front of his entire leadership team.
He chose another option. Instead of reacting to the situation and allowing his pride to drive his decision, he led through the circumstances. The senior had built a culture of investing in his leadership team. He was their champion and authentically wanted people on his team to achieve his or her highest potential as leader. Therefore, he accepted the apology of his subordinate and used the situation as a teaching moment.
In essence, he made the incident less about himself and more about teaching the young leader the pitfalls of emotional outbursts. He had a hard conversation with the leader about expectations for future meetings and interactions. Then, he allowed the young leader to change his approach and behavior. The result was an effective leadership growth opportunity for the young leader.
Many times “making an example” of someone is simply a synonym for “reacting out of pride.” Leaders who consistently put their team’s growth and development above their own feelings and agenda are those who impact lives. Choose to lead instead of react through difficult moments and you will make a difference.