14 November 2009 4 Comments

Buttoned Up

Dress ShirtDo your best; look your best. Pretty basic stuff, right? So you can imagine my chagrin to look in the mid-morning mirror and see my button-down collar unbuttoned!

Then I started to recount the day: Up at 5:30, catch the 6:15 into downtown, then the skyway, the coffee shop, the guard’s desk, the elevator, three meetings, countless trips to the print room, reception area, etc. I must have encountered hundreds of people – some of whom I consider good friends.


Can you relate? Maybe for you it was a forgotten earring, mismatched shoes or something unzipped. If not (liar), surely you’ve seen one of us. Why are we so afraid to speak up? I know, to save the person embarrassment, right? At that moment, I wished someone had “embarrassed” me a few hundred people earlier!

I think there is a less benevolent reason: we fear the negative consequences for ourselves. Who wants their boss to remember them as the one who pointed out the spinach dip between their teeth?

But as leaders, we need to dig deeper. If my colleague won’t tell me my shirt is undone, she probably won’t tell me when my idea stinks.

How do we create an environment where people are willing to take a risk to save us embarrassment?

Or more importantly: to contribute wholly to the success of this organization.

I think fostering an atmosphere of grace is a good place to start. By reducing the negative consequences of speaking up, we encourage more candid contributions.

And who knows, maybe the entire organization will become more “buttoned up.”

-Jeffrey Lundberg

What About You?

  1. Do you have an “unbuttoned” experience you’d be willing to share?
  2. How have you seen good leaders create an atmosphere of grace?

4 Responses to “Buttoned Up”

  1. neeraj 16 November 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    Nice work Jeff. Great things to think about. By the way, you have spinach in your teeth.

  2. Kirkistan 17 November 2009 at 8:40 am #

    Mismatched shoes? what’s wrong about that?

  3. Lorie Crandall 19 November 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    Love it Jeff! So true.

  4. Jack 19 November 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    I told your wife her hair was sticking straight up right before she had to go meet with students. I didn’t want the kids to make fun of her. Then she told me to check out your website.

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