Leaders should take Mulligans

Leaders should take Mulligans 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Learning to be a leader can be hard.  A lot of us have had to learn the skills of leadership on the job.  We weren’t really trained to be a leader before we found ourselves in our first role that required us to lead.  We just had to get started.

The complicated part of doing this is that when you become the leader, you want (need?) the people you lead to respect you, to trust that you know what you are doing.  So, we immediately start to feel the pressure of trying to get every interaction with our team perfect.  We want to nail it–to prove that we belong in our role.

But, because we’re learning as we go, we are going to mess up some of the interactions, maybe even a lot of them (at least I did).  To this day, I still don’t execute coaching and development sessions perfectly.  I often walk away feeling like I should have said a few things differently, wishing that I had asked another question.

But, what I’ve learned over the years is that as leaders, we can take mulligans.  In golf, when you hit a particularly bad shot, sometimes you will decide to “take a mulligan.”  A mulligan is a do over.  You take out another ball, and try to hit a better shot the second try.

We need to learn to take mulligans in leadership.  When we don’t live up to our own expectations as a leader, give yourself permission for a do over.  If you have an interaction with an employee where you forget to coach and instead direct, take a mulligan.  Ask the employee to come back and see you again.  Explain to the employee that you realized that you hadn’t handled the earlier meeting in the way you’d like, so you’d like to continue the conversation.

As leaders, we should be in a continuous conversation with our employees, so no single conversation will make or break your effectiveness as a leader.  Allowing mulligans relieves some of the stress and pressure we feel as leaders because we know that we can take a second shot when we need it.

Take a mulligan when you need it.


1 comment
  • broc.edwards

    Jason, this is a great reminder that one of the best things a leader can do is just get in the game. I think you hit on something crucial here when you mention “continuous conversation.” I suspect that’s where many leaders get in their own way – by not making it continuous. I hadn’t really thought about it from this angel before, but it makes sense. If I play only one game of golf a year then every single shot really, really counts and there’s no room for error. But if I’m playing daily, then one shot or one game probably isn’t going to make it or break it. And the more I’m playing the more feedback (and introspection) I generate so the more chances I have to learn and improve.

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