Reading Between the Lines

Posted on 16-06-2009 , by: Dan Loichinger , in , 0 Comments

The very best performers not only understand their job responsibilities, but demonstrate the unique ability to read between the lines – whether in directions, relationships or the task at hand.  They not only get the point of their work, but the context of the world around them, and how that tempers what they are being asked to do.

In the course of my management and coaching career, I’ve worked with people who were frustrated because they followed the directions point by point; however, the result they acheived was far less than they had hoped for.  As it turns out, they had only considered the task at hand.  They had a blind spot for the context and/or the purpose for their work.  Most often, a mistake by young professionals who need some seasoning.

Other times I am struck by the blind spots of people more experienced, who should know better.  Any one recognize Brett Favre?  Here’s a professional who flourished in Titletown, giving me the impression that his no-nonense approach and home-boy aura was successful since he could not only perform, but understand the small market culture that had adopted and embraced him.

The writings of the last few days have convinced me otherwise.  Brett tells us he loves Green Bay and just wants to play football.  It’s just business.  Hello!  How could you be so blind?

Organizations may not be loyal anymore.  Football has long ago become a clash of ego’s, titan’s and money.  Still, Green Bay has worked hard to retain it’s small town charm and loyalty to those they have adopted.

The issue of going to New York was not the issue; but holding out, playing coy and waffling in indecision certainly was.  We all know of many of the faithful fans who lost respect for the man as he muddled his way through his one year tenure with the New York Jets.

Now, we see and hear that Brett will most likey move to rival Minnesota if his arm heals well after surgery.  According to this morning’s Wisconsin State Journal report, it makes perfect sense for him to play in Minnesota, even referring to the Vikings as we.  Ouch!

To a degree, Brett is right.  Moving to a team that utilizes the same offensive scheme as his long tenure in Green Bay does make sense.  To the majority of the Packer faithful, he’s missing the point.  He was adopted, revered and brought into a very unique culture and community.  He has now violated the code of conduct, and should never be invited back to Lambeau for any kind of ceremony.

Brett isn’t the only one of us to miss the blind spots.  Ive had my share.  I’ve let issues drag on far too long with employees, only wanting to be fair to everyone.  As a result, I lost a level of respect among the team.  I’ve spent too much time listening to the group’s input before making the call.  Same result.  I’ve learned from those mistakes and so should you. 

Where have you missed the point, not read between the lines, or understood the most important contextual cues for what you were working on?  More importantly, what did you do about it?  Who do you ask to hold you accountable?  How have you learned from your mistakes?

Feel free to share your stories.

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