Have you ever noticed how we judge the quality of the message against the messenger? We hear about something coming down the line and it is good or bad based on the person whom is saying it. It is rare that we hold the content of the message above the quality of the relationship of the person who says it.

Many of us learn about the Halo Effect in PME. It is where we look at someone in a more positive light because of a good first impression or a few big successes. We have a tendency to dismiss some of their hiccups because we have assigned an angel’s halo to them. Of course the opposite is true with a lesser talked about concept of the Horns Effect.

We can accept this potential pitfall and good leaders take ownership of their potential biases. However, almost none of us do this with our bosses. “That Pro Super is just trying to clear his board; he doesn’t care about us.” “That Section Chief keeps dishing out work because he is just trying to make rank.” There are very few people I know who haven’t muttered something like this about their boss.

The boss sends out tasks for us to work on and we look at the potential motives behind it. Instead, we need to look for how the work fits into the big picture. Although, I have met some pretty dumb and jerkish supervisors, I have not a single one who intentionally wanted to fail. With that mind, we might not like the plan, but we can at least say they are not purposefully driving the bus over the cliff.

Now, in order to lead our teams effectively through some task we know they will gripe about, we need to know the why. This comes by us asking our boss for the intent behind the task. How does this fit into the bigger picture? If he or she states it came from their boss, go to the source. Of course, you shouldn’t jump around the chain of command for some trivial task. Save this for things you know will impact the team in the long-term. For the more trivial stuff, embrace the suck and be a good leader for the team.

In Summary:
1. accept that your boss is not trying to fail on purpose
2. get the big picture intent behind the task
3. own the tasking and lead your team