Last week I had one of those fulfilling, rewarding, crazy and chaotic mornings with several planned and pop-up calls and conversations with clients.
Fulfilling and rewarding because I love getting to talk to and strategize with the leaders I help support, especially when it’s on the fly!
Crazy and chaotic because I had several other “to do” items on my task list that my teammates needed me to complete so they could move forward with their projects, and my mayhem of a morning prevented me from getting to any of them that day.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Our clients come first, and what I was doing that morning – serving our clients – was the most important thing I should have been doing. At the same time, I don’t want to be a leader who holds her people up from their performance and production. Any time a leader holds things up so the team can’t perform, it’s a bad thing. So, how should leaders handle these situations?
It’s Not Either/Or
As a leader, it’s my job to serve my customers and my teammates. Both are important, and neglecting either group is bad for our organization. Here’s how I chose to approach the situation:
- Serve my customers first. And by customers, I mean our external customers. If we don’t have customers, we’re out of business.
- Communicate with my team. As soon as I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get to my teammates’ tasks that day, I let them know. First, I told them what was consuming my time and why I wouldn’t be able to get to their items immediately. Serving our customers is never an inconvenience, and they understand that. Then I shared with them my plan for coming through for them on the items they needed from me, which leads me to No. 3.
- Serve my team on my time. Yes, last weekend was a working weekend for me. No, it wasn’t ideal, but I made it work. Why? A couple reasons. First, as I said earlier, they were depending on me, and I didn’t want to be the hold up. Second, as leaders we are called to serve and sacrifice, neither of which is always going to be convenient. (If it was convenient or easy, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice, would it?) Knowing that I had a jam-packed schedule the following week, I had to give up some of my personal time to allow my teammates to keep moving forward.
None of us have luxury of choosing whether we’re going to serve our external customers OR our teammates. We must lead our teams forward, not be the hindrance that’s holding them back.