RSS Learning from Moments of Truth

Every single one of us, from time to time, has to deal with stressful situations. Some of these situations are created by our own decisions and/or actions; others are created outside of our control. It is during these “moments of truth” that define who we are and what we place value on. 

I think it is important that each of us take time occasionally to reflect upon these “moments” as a way to shape or reshape the perceptions others have of us and rebalance the personal or professional legacies we are creating. Allow me to share with you a personal story that had a profound impact on me, both as a person and as a leader, and how I now see that moment as helping to define the person I am today.  

When I received a promotion to join the executive management team of my company years ago, it was, and continues to be, one of the high points in my professional career. Within a few months of my inclusion to the group, our management team opted to participate in a “team-building” exercise, one that required very open and candid input from each team member. 

To say that this meeting was a stressful event for me at that time would be an understatement. It was an offsite meeting, led by an outside facilitator, whose objective was simply to enhance the communication of our group. The activity itself was relatively simple in that we were asked to candidly respond to three questions. The difficult part for me as the “new kid on the block,” was that our responses to the questions being posed were related to the other members of our team. I was being asked for my candid assessment of the other members of senior management without first building sufficient credibility within the group to suggest my opinions were either pertinent or valued. The questions were as follows:

  1.  Share what each member is doing right, i.e., those activities/results that each person should continue doing to help our organization now and in the future (things they should keep doing)
  2. Share what each member is doing that, if ceased, would positively impact our organization (things they should stop doing)
  3. Share what each member of our team could do to better utilize their strengths (things they should start doing)

I volunteered to be the first person to be openly “evaluated” by my peers, because as the “newbie,” I was eager to hear how to be more significant in their eyes.  Without going into a lot of detail, I learned that all of the things that I was doing that led to my becoming a part of the senior management team needed to be continued. I also learned that I wasn’t doing anything that might be detracting from our corporate mission. What was interesting to me was the unanimous opinion about what I needed to start doing, and the passion with which it was shared with me. What the group wanted from me was to speak my mind during our management meetings, because my perspective was new and often differed from other members of the team. This shared opinion, offered so early in the meeting, allowed me to openly share my perspective of the other members of the team, albeit with a weaker voice than if we were to hold a similar meeting today. 

I am pleased to share that the results of this meeting were very positive to our group and to our organization. For me however, the value of our time together was so much more.  The stress that I felt to openly share my opinions about other members of our team was alleviated by the fact that the other members strongly encouraged my perspective. Having the confidence to openly and candidly communicate my thoughts and opinions, even when I know they may not be shared, has helped me, to this day, to be much more open and respectful of the perspective of others. An ancillary benefit of this meeting is that I feel I have become a much better listener too. For me, open and honest communication can only happen when those involved create an environment of trust and share a commitment to truly understand and appreciate the perspectives of everyone else. Without trust and a shared expectation to actively listen, communication shortcomings will result in individual or organizational ineffectiveness.  

I hope you might share your own “moment of truth” with me in response to this post. I’m listening and I care!

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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