The ABCs of Leading by Greatness - Mastery

Recently, I posted the first of this series on the ABCs of Leading by Greatness. In that post, I discussed the importance of authenticity. This week I'd like to talk about mastery. As I define it in the book, leaders who lead by greatness master their defensive instincts and are always able to choose an appropriate response to the most testing of challenges.

I thought about this as I read through a post that relates to the most testing of leadership challenges departing employees. In this post, Dave Balter portrays how valuable mastery is down the road. Dave, the founder and CEO of social marketing company BzzAgent, discusses the right and wrong ways to break up with employees (either through termination or resignation) in his Inc.com column. He writes:
When I felt rejected I turned against departing employees. Early in the history of BzzAgent, my fourth startup, a key employee gave notice. I was bitter and frustrated and responded as many do: I started treating him like an outsider, re-crafted his image to the rest of the organization (actually he wasn't great), and began the process of working around him.  Within two weeks, the divide was huge; we exchanged half-hearted goodbyes and he left with a shrug. And even though today we still share similar interests and are active in the same business communities, we don't have a relationship. Indeed, we hardly speak.
This is an excellent example of how mastery can change the way you lead others and prevents regrets down the road. Dave makes excellent points in his blog post on why it's important to treat departing employees with care and respect. Without giving too much away (it's a good read for any leader), Dave's main point is that you have to think about the future when you are dealing with an employee departure. For example:
When they [employees] leave, bosses should thank them for their time and their contributions. In fact, a company's relationship with corporate alums should be fostered, beginning at the moment that you decide to stop working together. It doesn't matter who makes that decision. If handled appropriately, relationships with former employees can be a source of immense, incredible benefits for both parties.
It's that kind of thinking before acting that defines mastery. While it seems simple in principle, it takes a conscious effort every day and in every conversation. For more lessons in leadership mastery, see this post on the three hardest and most important leadership phrases.

Share this post