You know you suck as a leader if...

I was doing some work at Panera yesterday when I overheard the conversation at the table next to me.   The topic: The Super Bowl.  People present: Guy in his forties, woman in her forties, and grandma (notice the generalization of anyone over 60.  Judgmental?  Maybe.  Correct?  You wouldn't bet against me).  Here's how the conversation went; now prepare your hearts and minds to receive such an elegant story. Forty-year-old woman: Hey, how about that super bowl last night?

Forty-year-old guy: Oh my gosh, the super bowl sucked!

Grandma and Forty-Year-old woman (looking astonished): What!  You really thought so?! (Yes.  They were in perfect unison)

Forty-year-old guy: Are you kidding?  The commercials sucked!

Forty-year-old woman: Oh yeah, you're so right. (never looking up from her bread bowl)

Grandma: But what about that Star Wars commercial? (She meant the Volkswagon commercial)

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Forty-year-old guy: For sure, that was the only good thing about the Super Bowl.  The commentators were bad.  And what in the hell was that halftime show? (Side note: at this point I'm thinking, "Sorry sir that the game is not in Hays, Kansas with ZZ Top performing at half time!)

Can't lie. I wanted to sling my sugar free vanilla, non fat latte at his face (yes, I could taste the difference between the paper cup and the latte; thanks for judging my choice in beverage).  How in the world can someone say, "That Super Bowl sucked!" but never make a reference to the actual game?!

I will resist the urge to do my Allen Iverson impersonation in writing...but here's the video!

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Here is my problem with all of this: we make this mistake all the time as leaders.  We desire to foster communities of creativity but too often we squelch it.  We get caught up in measuring people only by their actions and behaviors (commercials and commentators) instead of their heart (the football game).  As a leader you have to be more in tune with the hearts of your people than what your people produce for you.  Production will always result from your belief and investment in people. Too many leaders want to major in the minors as they lead people.  Do you have a person who has a strong desire to serve, create, or do something new?  If you are criticizing their actions and not valuing their intent and passion, I got bad news for you, you suck as a leader.

You may also suck as a leader if you are sitting around waiting for someone above you to give you permission to be creative. Approval is like a thank you card; you prefer it hand written but you probably only read it once.  So get going and stop sucking.