Can You Tell the Difference?

Posted on Posted in Leaders

In talking with a colleague, he shared his frustration in observing a sheer sense of laziness for some of his students and parents.  He attributed it to society, the time of year, and other external factors.  As he talked, it reminded me about the book by Dan and Chip Heath, Switch.  The Heath brothers write this powerful book describing the habits within change through a visual picture of the Rider, the Elephant, and the Path.

In the book, the Heath brothers describe the change process of the rational side of thinking as a small Rider sitting on top of the hard-to-control emotional side of a large Elephant towards a desired outcome within the Path.  I highly recommend you read this book!  In the book, there is a profound quote that I was reminded of, “What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.”  

The visual characteristics of a lazy person sitting idle, not talking, and not being able to process information are the same characteristics of a person who is beyond tired.  Seeing someone in exhaustion means he/she needs rest.  That person might need help from others to listen, empathize, provide encouragement, or give them energy.  

That’s very different than what we tend to give people who we perceive are lazy.

For people we perceive to be lazy, we lecture them, yell at them, dismiss them, give up on them, or even fire them.  We will never know what is truly happening to that person unless we ask.   While it is natural to make assumptions, we have to fight that urge.  

Instead, it’s important leaders ask questions, presume positive intent, and look for ways to support one another in building community.  Regardless of why a person may be distant or detached, we have to all look for ways to create an inclusive environment for everyone.  The next time you think someone is lazy, consider these “3 Approaches to Consider”:

  1. Don’t let it rattle you.  Too often leaders take it personally; don’t make it about you.
  2. Address it quickly.  Leaders sometimes make the mistake of waiting for things to fix itself; don’t wait too long.
  3. Presume positivity.  Lead with open-ended questions in the spirit of helping; don’t give in to the rumors or perceptions.

As future leaders, it’s important to consider the leadership of others to benefit the collective team.  As a candidate who is looking to get more out mentoring, interviews, resumes and your personal network, check out our Future Leaders Institute in Columbus, OH in May 2017.  It can help you become a better leader and get an edge over others competing for leadership positions and being successful for the future!