Shut Up and Color

“So I told them It was time to shut up and color” he said.

I laughed. “Where did you get that?”

“Are you kidding?” my friend said. “You.”

“It was while you were leading the integration of the companies after we were acquired. You flew across the country to spend a day or two with us each month. You always took time to listen to our ideas, confusion and complaints. But after you listened, you told us, regardless of the situation, it was time to get back to work. Sometimes things changed, sometimes things changed later, most things didn’t change, but you were right it was time to get back to work.”

I thought back on that time. They were a great bunch of people, but used to doing things their own way using their own business model. Now things were different. They were part of an integrated suite that had to be delivered and serviced in one mindset as one unit. No longer being “the” product was difficult for them. And there are always issues in blending cultures, especially two strong and good ones, as it was in this case.

Leaders make decisions and implement them well. Factors are seldom as simple as right or wrong, or even better and best. Decisions are not always met with favor, especially with groups who will inevitably have different points of view about how to best accomplish the same thing.

Bringing people together requires patience, consistency, communication, transparency, and a lot of listening. It takes investment on all parts. Recognition, flexibility, new challenges, freedom, and offering opportunities to grow are all great things for employee engagement and important for leaders to recognize.

But the most foundational responsibility of a leader is to get the job done, and get it done well.

When people do their job well it gives leaders flexibility and greater freedom.


Because this is what it looks like when everyone is on the same page and committed to the same goal.   When the “what” is happens, the “how” becomes less important.

And this is what being a leader is all about.

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.”

 Martin Luther King, Jr.

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