Dirty Hands Don’t Shake Hands

Why Getting in the Trenches Doesn’t Work in Leadership

Picture This.  I’m at Target and the lines are long.  I am in self-checkout realizing that I wish I would have stood in the staffed check-out line…because who wants to work and check themselves out.

Center to the self-check out line is a woman looking at everything and how things are going.  She’s on the walkie talkie giving command, talking about what’s needed, and if staff need something…they come to her.  She is not moving from this stationed spot. 

In my duress I’m thinking…”why doesn’t she help me?”  She see’s that I’m in over my head in self-checkout.  She doesn’t come to assist me or other customers because there are staff designated for that. She stays focused.  In my frustration, I had the awesome insight I will share with you here.

If she had moved from watching and overseeing the operations, the entire flow of all lines would have gone to  #$@#$.  Her job was to command.  Be the general.  She was not supposed to be in the trenches.

Sure she had experience there.  And could probably do all of the staffed jobs EXCEPT she was no longer in that position.  She was physically removed from the trenches and mentally she removed herself.

I wonder how many of us suffer from going back to the trenches and wear it as a badge of honor? This was me.  But each time, I went back in the trenches…I grew angry internally.  I realize that the issue was not them, it was me.  I was not loyal to my new role.  I wanted to prove that I could lead and be like my teammates.  I was willing to be elbow to elbow and shoulder to shoulder.  This philosophy does not work.  

As a leader, especially a clinical leader, we are conditioned to get in and get our hands dirty.  But dirty hands don’t shake hands.  Let that stay with you. 

If your job is to be the ambassador and general of your therapy practice, how then can you make new business deals and partnerships?  Dirty hands don’t shake hands means that you will need to mentally, emotionally, and physically remove yourself from day to day processes.

Giving a business wings and more importantly giving your talent wings to fly is essential to growth and freedom.  You want freedom and they need it.  They need to also fail and learn to fly better for having failed.

So how do you do it?  You are careful about the talent you onboard, you establish rules-policy-operations, and you support them.  And when I say “you”, I mean you have systems and people to support.

Creating systems and tiers of supervision is also essential.

So let’s recap:

  1. Dirty hands don’t shake hands.
  2. Creating systems of support through policy and operations.
  3. Being available to select-key people in the tiered level of operational supervision you have established is critical.
  4. Move into a space of emotional-physical unavailability to all.
  5. Create accountability checks and paperless systems so that your business information is at your fingertips.
  6. Stop rushing to help and save people in the self-checkout line.  Work and operate in your role.  If it’s not working…figuring out fit for organization and role should happen

Thank you @Target!

~Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP, BCBA

Therapy Biz @SLPGURU

For consultant and speaking engagements, contact us at www.landriagreenslp.guru

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