Easier are the decisions where one side is right and the other is wrong however in most situations, leaders do not have that liberty.
Instead, they need to choose between the two rights. They are literal sticky situations specifically because each side is strongly embedded in one of the core, elemental paradigms.
Photo Credit: Randy Son Of Robert's Flickr photostream
Here is a story about Peter, the project manager who assumed responsibility, led beyond his title and made a difference by his decision.
Quandary or the Growth Opportunity?
Peter was working as a project manager with a small but growing software solutions provider company. For last few months, he was working on a project which was critical for the client – Caroline.
Caroline was very happy with the way the project was progressing; especially with the way Peter was managing it. Peter never missed a Status report and used to keep Caroline updated with the progress by every possible means, always.
In fact, Caroline’s positive feedback was one of the reasons behind Peter’s recent handsome salary rise.
Quandary of Two Rights
On Thursday morning, Peter got an email from his CEO instructing him to “hide” important information in the weekly status report which was supposed to be sent on Friday.
Benefit of hiding the information was continuation of the contract with Caroline for at-least next 6 months which meant a lot of money for Peter’s company.
On the other side, Caroline may go bankrupt in next 6 months if she continues funding the project which had no future – at least it was apparent with the information which was to be hidden.
Peter, the project management professional, was well aware that as a project in-charge he has to do the right thing for the project. He wanted to inform Caroline about the fact but he was asked by his superior NOT to do that.
Now, he has to make a choice between two rights. Between integrity (with the client) versus commitment (towards his own company).
Now what would he do? Would he send the status report and pretend that he doesn’t know about the “hidden” fact or update the client about the situation which will lead his company to lose the contract?
Peter decided to Eat That Frog and chose a road less traveled.
He decided to meet his CEO to verbalize that he won’t hide that information in the status report and still do well for the company.
Peter quickly developed a business plan which would enable his organization to earn the money they were losing if they unhide the truth to Caroline and presented to his CEO.
“This plan is not bullet-proof and there is no guarantee we will gain the money we are going to lose,” paused the CEO.
“But, it’s definitely a way to go! Peter. You, the leader beyond your title – Project Manager – have made me realize that the path I was heading was faulty and was not in the favor of our company’s long term sustainable success,” CEO ceded slowly.
“Go ahead and update Caroline with the facts. Even if we lose the contract we will at-least win a friend who will be ready to stand by our company for the remaining life,” added the CEO.
Peter sent the status report without hiding the fact. Caroline had taken the decision to stop further development on this project. Actually, stopping this project saved Caroline from going bankrupt also.
On the other side, CEO worked with Peter on the business plan he developed, made it bullet-proof and stared executing it.
6 Months Later: Peter, who is now leading the SBU as per the revised business plan, got a call from Caroline who wanted to start a new project which was 10 times bigger in size, of course with Peter’s company.
This was the story about 3 such quandaries which stand as fundamental models or paradigms while deciding from two-rights quandaries.
- Honesty versus Commitment – Honesty towards his profession and commitment towards the company.
- Personal interests versus Organization’s – Hiding the fact was easy for Peter but was going to be bad for the company over the long run.
- Quick-fix versus Long-standing – Again, the quick-fix – hiding the fact – would have affected the company adversely over the long term.
In such situations, first thing you need to do is to exclaim, as Peter did. The people around you will know it nevertheless.
Everyone will learn it the harder way if you don’t cry it out.
Pause. Take a deep-breath. Decide how you are going to work out the problem. Make an alternative plan and execute it with the specific purpose.
Power Question: In quandaries, do you assume responsibility and take the may-be-tougher but the right decision?