The tail end of the buffalo is much messier to deal with!

11 06 2015

“My mother always told me not to handle a buffalo by its tail, but always catch it by the horns.  And I have used that lesson in everything in my life.” ~Lalu Prasad Yada

There are certain parts of the country (Boston, NY, etc.) where you can be sure that when someone has something to tell you, you’re going to hear exactly what they’re thinking.  Other parts of the country people might be more “genteel” in dancing around the uncomfortable point that they’re trying to make.  It’s not even really parts of the country, in that I’ve heard people in Los Angeles say that they can tell when someone is from San Francisco by how they talk to their employees.  I’m from upstate NY, and I’ve lived my life telling it like it is.  Those who don’t hate me may call my communication style “transparent”.  Those on the fence will call me “frank” (and my name is Jim) or “blunt”.  Finally, those who have disappointed me or under-performed around me (and heard me tell them about it ) may call me an $#%@*&.  Either way, none of the 3 groups can say they didn’t know what I was expecting, or thinking about the results.   Leaders are not paid to be liked… we’re all paid to get the job done, and hopefully we can earn the respect of our team along the way

Several times in the last few weeks, I’ve received totally different depictions of an event.  In other words, 2 or more different people referred to the same event as, from one perspective fantastic, and from the other: a disaster.  After thinking long and hard about the root cause, I’ve determined that all of these issues stemmed from people’s fear of speaking frankly to a co-worker (or me).  In business, be nice, but be frank.  If you’re not happy, say so.  If it could have gone better, say so.  Avoid things like “I guess it’s alright” or “it’s fine” when you really mean “I’m disappointed”.  Level, honest communication will make any business machine run smoother.  Otherwise, time is wasted getting to the root of what so-and-so really meant, when they could have spoken up in the first place, and saved everyone time, energy, and angst.  That’s today’s leadership lesson – Grab the bull by the horns!  Tell each other it like it is, and it’s easier for everyone in the long run.  It’s easier, and less messy than trying to catch up by grabbing its tail!

Speaking of bull’s horns… (OK, it’s a buffalo, but you get the point!)


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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