Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Monday, April 7, 2008

Show some sagacity!

A friend narrated his experience : At the morning meeting of the departmental heads with the boss, he said something about his own department but the boss contradicted him. On his reiterating his statement with some fresh statistics and logic thrown in, the boss stuck to his guns and put him down by saying that he knew what he was talking about better than anyone else. End of the discussion and of the meeting! Later when he was having lunch with his colleagues my friend got the message that the boss wanted to see him. Every one knew that he was in for some difficulty. With his heart missing a beat, he knocked at the chief’s door and was called in. But it was a different chief altogether. Looking humble and contrite he admitted that he was wrong and asked my friend’s forgiveness, which, of course, was given most respectfully.

So many years later the friend was still appreciative of the great gesture made by the boss in admitting his mistake and apologising to a subordinate. I also praised the big man because he was able to rise above his ego; I said he was brave, he was sagacious. But was he sagacious? Almost immediately I had a doubt whether he really deserved that compliment. Sagacity would have been to admit his mistake and apologise to the friend at the next morning’s meeting where all others, in front of whom he had treated my friend petulantly, were again present. Hurting some one publicly and expressing contriteness in the private can make the wrong-doer feel a little better, it can also assuage somewhat the hurt of the wronged but no way it could and should be termed brave or sagacious. It is just like scandalising some public figure on the front page of a newspaper and then the next day at the lower right hand corner of the sixth page expressing regrets about the mis-reporting.

1 comment:

Rob Linn and Rich Ottaviano said...

I completely agree. We have a saying, "The higher up you go, the less you really know." By this we mean that at the higher levels of leadership it is difficult to really know what is happening at the operational level.

Senior leadership must ask, listen and act. There is tremendous collective wisdom at all levels of an organization.

Rob Linn