Black and White

Posted on 2:32 PM by dave

 The phrase, "I guess I just see things in life as black and white," has been bouncing around my head for most of the last week. 

I agree with this sentiment in many areas of life and all too often in society today we tend to take on a view of the world around us that is more nebulous than concrete. So to some extent, I agree. 

However, the context of this conversation was in regard to performance not in how we view others and the world around us. It was personal. The framework that led to this particular statement by one of my team members was that they were either doing a great job or a horrible job in their assigned responsibilities. I respectfully introduced to them a counter viewpoint. The challenged that I faced is that they couldn't see that there are layers to their performance. In their eyes, if they weren't in great standing then they were in bad standing. 

This is simply not true. 

I believe that it is toxic to any leader to foster a culture of either/or within their sphere of influence. Either you are right or wrong. Either you are succeeding or failing.

I believe there is more. 

As one who leads, it is my imperative that I create a culture that encourages growth and progress. This is what is at risk when my team members adopt a view of either/or, black/white. I want my teams to risk. I want them to try and fail then try again. I don't want them constrained by "good enough" but rather to strive for what is currently out-of-reach, to dream.  I don't want them to settle... and settling happens when we view ourselves as either great or bad because there is a mindset issue that nothing is beyond great. 

I am a firm believer in the possibility and promise of "what if", of continued development, of more. 

Whether more manifests itself as increased effectiveness, better efficiency, diminished expenses, greater impact, expanded influence, strengthened partnerships, deepened portfolio, enhanced procedures... there is always, always room to grow, multiply, and advance.

This is one aspect of creating a culture of legacy.