Leadership: Defining Moments

Everyday Leaders make decisions. The most important and difficult decisions occur when someone has to choose between “Right” and “Right”. These are  what Joseph Badaracco calls “Defining Moments”. While either decision can be viewed as the right decision, the one you choose defines who you are and what you stand for.

A Simple Example

A 9-year-old child tells an administrator that she is to go home on another bus with a friend but doesn’t have a note, you could either:

1)      Follow the standard procedure and tell her that she should have submitted a note at 8:30 am. Since it is 3:00 and since she didn’t provide a note, she must go home on her regular bus. If no one is home, she can go back to the bus depot and wait until someone picks her up. OR

2)      The office can call the emergency contact numbers to verify which bus the child was to go home on. Once verified, she leaves school as planned on the other bus with her friend.

Now, either choice can be viewed as right. You have a procedure to follow to protect the welfare of the child and if you had to call home every time it would be unmanageable. On the other hand, the child is trustworthy and these new arrangements, confirmed by the friend, were made because no one was home to greet the child.

Choice 1 defines you as someone who prides discipline and strict adherence to the rules in order to protect the child.

Choice 2 defines you as someone who cares about the child and recognizes that a call to confirm can avoid a stay in the bus depot.

Which would you choose  and why?


About Vele Galovski
Vele Galovski has consistently achieved breakthrough results by using his unique approach to innovation engineering. By combining ambitious goal-setting with key driver analysis, disciplined management of metrics, and an inspiring approach to employee engagement and empowerment, Vele has dramatically improved the performance of a high-volume manufacturing operation, a national financial services company, a leading provider of professional outsourcing services, and one of the top home-builders in the country. He is currently working on a book to describe his methodology and help others achieve exceptional results with the same basic process employed by the world’s greatest engineers. You set a daring goal. Then you engineer a way to get there.

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