When Leadership Highs Outweigh the Lows

A friend called me today to share a story. She met with a visible public figure recently, and after the meeting, my friend wrote up some thoughts about the meeting and emailed them to a small group of friends and business associates who might be helped by hearing her thoughts. (This public figure happens to represent issues that affect my friend both personally and professionally.).

Maybe you know the twist to this familiar story: The email got forwarded once, twice, three times a lady, and ended up back in the hands of this public figure, who called my friend and was quite bothered — at how the tone of the email might negatively reflect on the public figure, might have misrepresented things this public figure said, and maybe felt backstabby.

My friend, who is a skilled and influential leader, expressed such regret to me that she had worked for years to build her reputation and relationships in her field, and with one email she felt she had flushed it all down the drain.

In companies everywhere, this scene is played out. The details may be different but the first lesson remains the same: watch what you put in writing because different people can read the same email in very different contexts! :)

We ended up having the richest discussion, though, on how our careers are not built in a day, and they are rarely taken down in a day. Today, emotions are high. Tomorrow, they will surely be lower. And the day after that they will be still lower. And so on, until the emotions are right where they need to be — taken in sum total with every bit of good work my friend has done over years. And like a trusty math equation, one small, momentary “minus” doesn’t make a dent against the hefty “plus” column.

So chin up, leader. There’s still work to do and the world still counts on you to work your magic. Let’s go!