Early in the COVID-19 days, my wise wife, Karen, said this could really hurt our son’s business. Michael and his wife, Casey, perform wedding videography and photography.
Have you heard the trendy phrase “gig economy”? Well, Sun Prairie Films of Colorado couldn’t be more closely tied to the world of gigs. All revenue comes from events, group celebrations, and gatherings of lots of people.
I feared Karen was right, but I responded, “Probably, but let’s not say that to them now. It won’t help to predict doom and gloom when we don’t know.” Karen agreed.
Sadly, she was spot on—Sun Prairie Films revenue eventually shut off like a faucet.
Leadership Lesson Learned
Karen and I chose not to dump our fear-filled, negative thinking on the young Millers for a couple of reasons. At that time, doing so would’ve added no value. Also, more than 30 years ago, my mentor in the management training world taught this lesson: “Leadership sometimes means keeping your thoughts to yourself.”
At 62-years-young, I now know this to be true. ??
The QBQ! training program teaches that leadership isn’t about title, position, or tenure, but about how we think. Leaders discipline their thoughts … and their tongues. This calls for all leaders—managers, co-workers, friends, spouses, parents, siblings—to sometimes keep their mouths shut.
6 Reasons We Say Too Much
Here are 6 reasons why it’s tough to tame the tongue:
- Ego. When driven by pride, our strongest desire is for those around us to believe we’re smart—and right. Of course, being the smartest person in the room is not a productive/worthy goal. Leaders must eliminate this immature need.
- Passion. When a topic is “near and dear” to our hearts, we can get … intense. Due to this intensity, it’s hard to not say what we’re thinking. See any Social Media argument to observe this phenomenon. Excessive passion leads to excessive Facebook/Twitter wars.
- Unawareness. We don’t understand the immense power we possess when it comes to influencing others. However, wise managers, parents, older siblings, etc. grasp this. They understand the intrinsic power of even the most flippant statements.
- Verbosity. I’ve always known my verbal nature is a problem but didn’t know it began so young. In my 7th-grade yearbook from 1971, this is the theme: “To a great friend who talks too much!” and “The best talker in my class!” Yes, a lifelong problem causing me to sometimes regret what I say.
- Undisciplined. I’ve heard people who cuss a lot say, “I want to stop but can’t.” To me, it’s a matter of choosing to stop—and following through. We all make choices. Deciding to not use foul language and sticking with it is just a matter of discipline. Undisciplined folks say too much.
- Untrained. Many supervisors have never been taught this. No one has trained them to not be their staff’s buddy, to not align with their direct reports emotionally—and to cease speaking too freely to their staff. It’s just not taught in most training programs, yet it is learnable.
Why This Matters
Becoming a disciplined person—acting as an effective leader—matters because we don’t live in a bubble, we don’t work alone. The reality is, we do impact others. Saying whatever is on my mind whenever I want, depending on what I’m saying, can —
- Damage relationships
- Create fear in others
- Destroy belief in institutions
- Hurt people’s feelings
- Lower team productivity
- Inhibit learning/growth
- Instigate negative thinking
Are any of these costs worth it just so we can keep talking and say what’s on our minds? Personally, I will now say this: I don’t believe so. ?
Are you a leader? If so, what’s your #1 takeaway from this lesson? Leave a comment sharing what you will now do differently!