core beliefs

Communication is a two way street

Lately, I have run into several situations when performance that deviated from the expected was explained away as “I didn’t know.” “I didn’t know” shouldn’t cut it.  That goes for employees, class room students, and even family members. Communication is a two way street.

 If you don’t know, if you aren’t sure, it is your responsibility to ask. While leaders, including teachers and parents, have an obligation to communicate expectations, individuals have an equal obligation to absorb what is communicated and to ask when they don’t understand or when they need new information or guidance in handling a situation. If the answer is “I didn’t know,” then either the leader is failing in his or her responsibility or the individual who “didn’t know” failed in his/her responsibility.  Sometimes, it is both.

Leaders must clearly communicate what is expected -- goals, objectives, ethics, and core beliefs. There are circumstances when detail instructions or policies and procedures are required.  But you can’t create rules for handling every situation and the conditions surrounding it. Even if you could spell out detail instructions for everything, humans are not capable of real time recall of every rule while on the front line. That is when an organization’s core beliefs or a family’s value system must fill in the blanks.

When we talk about individual responsibility, we are confirming the individual’s obligation to learn and understand what is  expected.  Rather than “I didn’t know,” it is his or her job to say, “I need to know from you.”

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore and
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Don’t Count on Your Gut!

Most of the time, experienced and seasoned leaders are served well by their gut. That “gut feeling” doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes from experience—their own and those of others who shared theirs. From those experiences, we develop biases (core beliefs) about what does and does not work. It is those core beliefs that drive our gut reaction to events and circumstances enabling us to make most decisions quickly without research, consultation, or analysis.

However, the excellent leader also knows there is a time when their gut is not up to the job. They don’t “bet the farm” casually. Material or bet-the-farm issues are often those that bring into question the very validity of your core beliefs given new conditions and circumstances. Yielding to your gut when you should be adjusting to new conditions on the ground leads to adverse results. When I look back over my 55 years of business experience, I can point to numerous competitors that no longer exist because their leaders followed their gut when the game board was in transition.

To be an effective leader, it is important to recognize when to follow your gut and when to take an analytical approach seeking advice from those with special know-how and experience. When the stakes are big, don’t count on your gut!

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.