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We engage our time in many different ways in any given day.  Life has a way of engaging us, distracting us, entertaining or challenging us.  In our daily living we have opportunities to influence- ourselves, others, situations, causes, kids and more.  I wonder if we truly know how important we each are in the big scheme of things? When I worked in the traditional business world for big corporations, it was like a sprint daily to keep up with the demands, people issues, productivity thresholds, output expected and massive volume of communication and coordination it took to complete my work.  I would come home often on a Friday like a wet noodle, too tired to do much except change, chill, eat and plop.My work challenged me and wore me out.  I often lost site of the bigger why of what I was doing as I was inundated with the daily grind of minutia. Work was unfulfilling when I forgot how it connected to something other than my ego which loved the pay, status and success.

Recently I was telling a story about that part of my career.  I was meeting with two managers that were insistent on firing a young worker that had made a mistake.  This mistake cost their department $ and made them look bad.  We haggled over the potential termination for weeks, reviewing the details & getting beyond the technical gobbeldy gook. I had told them I did not agree with their desire to terminate.  The senior of the two managers got really angry, stood up and leaned across the table at me red faced, jabbing a finger and practically spewing at me.  It was unsettling to say the least.

I calmly explained that any decision related to employees was in the end his decision, not mine, and I had given him my expert advice not to term.  Then I went on to explain my position, i.e. that if he termed and the employee decided to sue for wrongful termination I would not align with the manager or on the side of the company, but on the side of what was right, for the situation, the employee AND the company.  In other words, I would not have his back.  Yeah, that didn’t go over well!

Many people in my position might have caved to the bully managers demands.  The manager escalated the decision “up the ladder” and the Sr. team backed my decision, and the employee did not get termed. That employee will never know that they were so close to losing their job, and that is not even the point of this story.  The point is that this situation reconnected me with my “why”.  My job was to know the law, company policy, and advise leaders.  That day I was also the voice of reason AND protected the “little guy” that in this case deserved a second chance.  I had the bigger picture of what was best for all in mind, not just the company’s bests interests, as so many would believe HR people do.  In that situation I was willing to risk it all, my job and my credibility to do what I believed was best.  I took a stand. The situation reminded me of my essential why in that role.  It made all the difference.

Do you know your leadership why?

Knowing your why keeps you motivated! Come reconnect with your “Why” in this ½ day workshop I am co-leading on May 10th. Register Here:

An Unexpected Journey - book cover - Lori Severson

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