Make a Decision and Keep Moving

March 19, 2013

I had a great opportunity to teach my 14-year-old daughter about leadership today–and how to make a decision, then another, and another.

We live in Rochester, MN–home to the world famous Mayo Clinic. Lucky for us, Mayo provides for our routine medical care through our health insurance. The entire downtown area of Rochester, including the Mayo Clinic campus, is connected by skyway and subway. This complex of clinic buildings, hotels, shopping centers, a four year university, and restaurants welcomes over 2.5 million visitors per year from all over the world.

As I was parking the car in one of the numerous parking ramps in the downtown area, my daughter said that she didn’t want to walk outside (we had just received about 10 inches of snow). “No problem,” I said, “we can get to the clinic building through the subway.” And in a stroke of confidence she informed me that she could get us there. “Okay,” I responded. “You lead and I will follow.” This is where leadership lesson begins.

From the parking ramp to our final destination we encountered many Y’s along our path. At one point, she noted that we were lost and that she was done leading. I didn’t bail her out; instead, I encouraged her to make a decision and go with it. “What if it isn’t the right decision?” she asked. “That’s okay,” I responded, “because you will be given the opportunity to make another decision.” We didn’t take the most direct path, but we eventually got to the clinic building we wanted.

How often do you allow a junior member of your team to lead and experience the lessons of a decision that isn’t optimal? I expressly didn’t use the word “wrong” here. “Wrong” carries too many negative connotations. Tomorrow’s leaders need to know that all decisions don’t have to result in a perfect outcome–but they do need to make decisions and correct course if necessary.

Lead by teachings others to lead.

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