(This is the second letter in a series I’m writing called “Dear Leader.” You can find the first letter here. As you read, I invite you to think about what you would say, and then leave your response in the comment section below!)
I know you’ve come across them, you may even be one. If you aren’t, then you probably know one. You might even work for one. They are completely unhappy with everything about their current situation, and they let you and everyone around them know by constantly complaining about it.
In one my first leadership experiences, I experienced this greatly. I had someone who had been working for the organization for many years, working over me. Not long after I had started working there, he came into my office and started complaining about all the things he didn’t like. And I went there with him. For the next few years we would share with each other just how much we didn’t like this or that.
This is a habit I am still struggling with today. It’s so easy to become this guy. Complaining is easy. Negativity is easy. But it’s something I’ve been constantly working on improving about myself since I left.
There is nothing to be gained by being negative, complaining about everything doesn’t help at all.
This letter is to you (and me):
Dear Disgruntled Leader,
I don’t know what happened to you to make you feel this way. I don’t know why you’re so unhappy about everything around here. I’m sure you have your reasons, and I’m sure you’d tell me if I asked. The problem is, I know more than I ever wanted to know. Your constant complaining has made it very clear that you don’t like working here, and that you don’t like any of us who work with you.
We know you are annoyed with the systems, of which you constantly seem to be victimized. We know you are disappointed and dissatisfied, by the slow pace of change. We experience it all.
What you may not know is that it’s easy for you to bring us down. It’s easy for your cynicism and negativity to greatly affect our attitude and our ability to do our jobs well. The more you complain about the place we are devoting our lives to, the harder it becomes for us to make the sacrifices necessary to bring the change we all want to see.
There are things we really want to say to you, but we resist the impulse for fear of becoming the target of your next rant. Our first response is that we just want you to leave. The cynicism and negativity you bring don’t outweigh the good you do. You bring us down with you, and we’re tired of being victims of it all.
However, since you’re probably not going to stay, could you please find it in yourself to bring the negativity to a minimum. Maybe it would help if you saw a counselor, someone who could help you walk through some of the things you are experiencing.
What we really want for you, is what we want for our organization – restoration. We believe in what we do. That’s why we’re here. We think you do to, but it’s hard to see that through the cloud of malcontent we are so used to seeing you wear. We will give you the benefit of the doubt if you give us a reason to believe you are trying. We will support you if you’re honest with us, and tell us that this is something you are struggling with. But if you never share your personal struggles with us, we can’t help.
You have so much to offer, and we know you do. We know you know it too. Let us help you see it again. Let us help you see the hope, that though things aren’t how they should be, we can be the ones who take it there. If you let us.