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Good Leadership is Sometimes Messy

  • Mike Kaeding

Mike Kaeding

2 min read
Good Leadership is Sometimes Messy

Good leadership is raw and hard.

We do one-on-ones. That’s a 30-minute meeting with between every employee and supervisor once per week. The most important aspect of a one-on-one is for the supervisor just to listen to each of their employees.

This week was challenging.

Most of my team members were struggling with issues. Some of it was my fault. Some issues were related to the stresses of the job. Other issues were personal things going on at home.

Tears were shed.

I listened.

And the stories pulled at my heart.

Put Employees First

When I hire a new employee I often give them ample time to decide if they want to work for us. I do this so that the new employee has options. If we aren’t right for them they can take some time using our job offer to leverage getting a different job.

This may seem counter intuitive. But my focus is to make sure that employee finds the best job for them. That may or may not be with us. If it isn’t, that’s great! I’d rather keep searching for the person who would be a perfect fit to work for our company.

I will do everything I can reasonably do to make the employee’s life better.

So, during our one-on-ones this week, I listened, asked questions, and sympathized. I focused on ways I can improve what I’m doing. I looked for ways that we could improve their situation. I let them know that I’m here for them even during the difficult times.

A Special Moment

Then something special happened.

After I finished my last one-on-one, I came back up to the office and the mood had changed.

One employee started talking about how she doesn’t like bacon and everyone else couldn’t believe that. We discussed how ants are gross and that you should always wash behind your ears. We discussed our favorite pop flavors and how we were excited for the Minnesota State Fair.

There was a real and deep bond that was being built with the staff.

Even though we were talking about some silly things we were saying something much deeper than that. We were really saying:

Don’t worry I got your back.

A younger version of myself didn’t understand this. I would have gotten annoyed that we weren’t focused on work. And don’t get me wrong, we do work a lot. The day before we all worked a 13-hour day. But as I get older, I cherish these moments. It’s in these little moments that we build the bonds we need to get us through the toughest of times. It reminds us that we are human, and we are all on this incredible journey of life. It shows us that we are part of an incredible team.

Life is so short.

So let’s do life with a team that truly cares.