Are You Majoring on the Minors?
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

When you think about your relationships with others, are you majoring on the minors? As you think about the people that you lead, are you majoring on the minors? If you have children, are you majoring on the minors? Are you focusing on lots of small issues and annoyances? Clearly, there are a lot of things in life that are annoying. For me, people talking with food in their mouth or eating with their elbows on the table are major annoyances. Didn’t their mother ever teach them proper table etiquette? Who wants to see half-chewed food flying through the air during dinner? With those elbows on the table, you would think they are worried the table might levitate and fly away.

During a recent vacation, we had two of our grandchildren from Ohio visiting for a week. Apparently, I relapsed into a mode of being overly critical of eating habits. My wife actually reminded me that at one point when our children were very young, she thought about feeding them before I got home from work in an effort to reduce the stress. I guess you would say I was majoring on minors. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that proper table etiquette and conducting one’s self with decorum is critical for success in life, but stressing it with a six-year-old and four-year-old throughout an entire dinner might be extreme. I was guilty as charged.

While this story may seem humorous to you, there are some real parallels in our businesses. Are we so busy nitpicking on minor things that we fail to teach the principles behind the desired behaviors? I remember hearing about a senior leader who insisted that no one have a coffee cup without a lid. Apparently, he didn’t want coffee spilled on the carpets. So a policy was made that all cups must have a lid.  Did people know why? What was the principle behind the policy? Did he buy travel mugs for the staff so it was easier to comply?  Too often we as leaders fall into a pattern of micromanagement without giving our teams the why behind the rules or the principles behind the policies. Wouldn’t it be better if they made decisions based on principles rather than fear? They would actually do the things we want them to do without us being around to make sure they comply. Now that’s leadership.

Please join Marisa and me on The Next Page podcast as we discuss how we can be become more empowering, more princple focused, and less of a micromanager.

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