For those of you who subscribe to email updates to the Front and Centered blog, you got a little (ok, a lot) more than you bargained for last week.

First, you received a blank email. The next day, you received the correct version of the email. Five times. I’d like to pull back the curtain on the circumstances because I think it’s a good leadership lesson.

Figuring it out

Novelist C.P. Snow described technology as something that “brings you gifts with one hand and stabs you in the back with the other.” In our case, the gift of an automated email notification system stabbed us with a bit of broken code, followed by an infinite send loop. (We’re sorry about all that, by the way.)

Our cross-functional blog team always has an open line of communication – something that’s not always easy to come by in these often-siloed times. So what started as an email forward of “Is there a problem?” became phone conversations, then troubleshooting and escalation. Full transparency and continual updates kept everyone who needed to know informed as to what was happening.

Once the issue was resolved, the team decided that you had heard from us enough in one day. So rather than email you to apologize for emailing you, they pitched the idea of writing about it here. Which I loved.

Trust your team

As is usually the case when something like this happens, it’s the way a team responds in the moment that speaks to its resiliency – and your success as a leader.

people running with a flagIt’s times like these that you must trust your teams – and where they reveal their true character. You’ll see natural leaders emerge as they:

  • Gather the facts and understand the situation
  • Communicate the issue and potential causes
  • Create a game plan for executing a resolution
  • Learn and Improve

And if you’ve done your job well, you’ve set the right tone for just these circumstances. That means no one is:

  • Looking to place blame
  • Hiding important information
  • Talking without listening
  • Afraid to act
True character isn’t built through challenging situations – it’s revealed. 

It’s how we handle ourselves in the moment, acting with honesty and transparency, that makes all the difference. And in the end, saying sorry and thank you for your patience and support.


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