Right Back Atcha!

Businessman points his finger at you

Have you ever heard that old saying that every time you point a finger at someone else you have three pointing back at yourself? Given the tone I hear many leaders taking of late, it seems we could all use a reminder of this basic premise. How you treat people is more of a reflection on you than it is on them.

 Bottom line, nice (or professional, or respectful, pick your word) matters. That doesn’t mean you can’t be firm, set boundaries, have high expectations and hold people accountable. You can do all those things and still not yell, get snarky, talk badly to or about someone. You are the leader. You set the tone. People are looking to you for the example of how they should act. And it appears we could all benefit from a few more good examples nowadays.

 I get it. You have to deal with oversight bodies that set rules for the lowest common denominator . . . and who can be condescending, dismissive and/or flat out rude. You have to respond to people who ignore your input, drop the ball and then want you to fix the mess. You encounter others who have a chip on their shoulder before you utter a word, who in effect dare you to live down to their expectations. And then there are those who expect you to give them the world on a platter, and then thank them for the opportunity. All true. That is about them. How you respond is about you.

 Your response in challenging situations is a reflection on you, not the circumstances before you. You can be clear, direct, passionate and steadfast without being disrespectful, or responding tit for tat. In fact, your grown up behavior in the midst of others’ childish ways builds your credibility, even with those who may not agree with you on the issue at hand. You raise the bar for future encounters. You become the person that people want to work with. By offering respect — as your standard approach, not a situational response — you gain trust. You reinforce that you are, in fact, a leader.

 We need more leaders today (not just people in positions of leadership . . . real leaders). The best way to take a step in that direction, or reinforce your standing as a leader? Just remember the old rule of pointing. What ever you project out towards others returns, threefold . . . right back atcha!

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