Byron's Babbles

Putting On The Boxing Gloves

What John Manning (2015) called “Pick Your Battles” in Lesson #45 of The Disciplined Leader, I call deciding whether or not to put the boxing gloves on. One thing is certain — you can’t take on every problem at work. Each person has a finite amount of political capital. If you make a big deal over something silly, you may not be able to get your way when it’s something really important. Or, as I always say, “I am (or am not) willing to put my boxing gloves on for this.” This is not to say I literally want to fight, but I use the metaphor to think about how far, or how passionate I am about the issue – would I break out the boxing gloves?

As Manning (2015) said, “Your leadership needs to reflect your ability to discern which battles aren’t worth fighting as well as your fearlessness in the face of the battles that are.” Even if you’re certain that the issues you want to tackle are critical, your reputation may suffer if you take them all on at once. I believe another important consideration is before taking on a battle, you’ll need to assess whether you have the reputation and authority to succeed. Additionally, you do not want to be seen as an inflexible leader or someone who is more concerned with be right than connecting with others. This type of leader doesn’t value other opinions and ideas.

To decide when to put on the boxing gloves, tackle only problems that are truly important. It’s important to examine your motives. Does the issue really matter to your employer, your colleagues or your ability to do your job? Never put on the boxing gloves without offering a solution or suggested route to one. Engage but do so when it makes real good sense. Win the battles – the big and important ones – and let the others go. That is leadership.



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