As a leader, do you have a tendency to complain?
As leaders, we face daily challenges. These challenges can be difficult for us because they draw on our skills, our knowledge, our beliefs, our values about the work we do, and in some cases, our patience. We can handle challenges that demand skills, knowledge, beliefs, and values. We can learn the skills and knowledge we need. Beliefs and values may be tested but if we hold them dear, they won't weaken. Patience, though, can be tough. At times, our patience is tried by the range of challenges we face. When patience is tried, we can slip into complaining. When patience is often tried, we can slip into complaining often. In fact, complaining can become a habit.
Is complaining just blowing off steam? That might be a convenient excuse to use to justify our complaining. However, we need to consider those whom we serve (students, parents, communities) and those who follow us (our staff). What is the impact of our complaining on them?
As leaders, we hope to inspire both those whom we serve and those we lead but if we slip into the habit of complaining, the impact on staff can be far-reaching. When leaders complain, staff can become demoralized, unmotivated, cynical, even fearful. Worse, staff may not want to bring forward important issues for fear of the impact on you as leader. The potential for a downward spiral in the culture of the workplace is evident.
Next time you feel like voicing your complaints, consider who's listening. What impact might your complaints have on them?