Don’t say this. Ever. No, really. No one in a leadership position should be caught saying “I was told.” Such thinking can be indicative of a bad mindset and also sends a bad message to both your teams and your business partners. Nothing says “not me” like the phrase, “I was told.”
Once you assume an executive role, you take on the responsibility of leading even when you may not like where you must lead. You do have the right to respectfully and tactfully question your own leadership, but once the decision has been made, you have two choices – deal with it or quit. Part of dealing with it is getting behind the team you are on and leading the resources assigned to you in order to execute and support your firm’s mission.
The message you send to your team when you play the “I was told” card is that your first loyalty is to the team you lead. To be an effective leader within your firm, your first loyalty must be to the leadership team of which you are an integral part. The team that reports to you are your resources that you must effectively lead in order to add value to your team and to your firm by getting things done. If this paradigm is objectionable, you may be working for the wrong firm.
The message you send to your business partners is that you are not in control and that you lack confidence. Your business partners need an empowered, confident and effective collaborator – not a victim of circumstances beyond his control. It is imperative that your business partners view you as someone who can execute and deliver. If they question this ability, you’ll only be adding to their stress rather than solving their problems.
Own your leadership role and set the right tone for both your teams and your business partners. You may well have “been told,” but as a leader, you need to either respectfully work behind the scenes to effect change to what you were told or publicly get behind the decision and move forward.
© 2014, Mark E. Calabrese