The VPM Blog

X + Y = S (for Startups and otherS)

Posted by Don Crow on Jun 13, 2012 4:00:23 AM

This week’s TIPS conclude my four part series on leadership tips. My approach has been to take a former US Army acronym I used as a junior leader in the field, toss in some practical application from life at AOL managing global operations and marketing teams and then think about how best to utilize all that life and leadership experience in my current environs: a Millennial generation dominated social startup.

If you’ve missed the previous three and are joining us now, take a look at Talk, Inform and Predictable before continuing. Or, march to your own beat and just dive right in!

Last week, we looked at how important it is to our team that I be Predictable. It isn’t just about being Predictable in demeanor when good or bad news strikes, it’s about planning ahead and giving the team a sense of Predictability on their schedules. Working late, or coming in early or sacrificing weekends is part of any work life, but it is so much more palatable when the team knows it is coming. And why – which can only come from Talking to them and keeping them Informed.

Still want to skip the last three?

Brace yourselves. S is for (be) Sensitive.

Go ahead and chuckle. Look around your desk for your Sex Panther cologne to ward off any incoming get-in-touch-with-your-feminine-side bombshells [NOTE: I don’t know a good corollary for women, sorry]. As a Leader, you must keep Sensitive on your shortlist of attributes.


How many times has a bad situation happened in the workplace and the most common comment was, “Someone knew.” Leaders can help their organization avoid this in part by being sensitive to the needs of their employees. By recognizing potential problems and the impact of poor planning on the team, you can eliminate a source of their dissatisfaction: insensitivity.

Sure, you can Talk and Inform. You can plan and be Predictable. You can do all three, but the minute you don’t anticipate a need, you’re insensitive.

Too long leaders have shied away from the word because in men it is associated with being weak and in women with being emotional. Neither word “works” in the leadership vernacular in the previous or modern day workplace.

I say it is time to embrace Sensitivity. I believe the best Leaders can be sensitive to their employees’ needs, and so long as they have open and honest communication (Talk and Inform), those Leaders can then make the tough, but right (and fair) decisions for the betterment of the organization with confidence.

And isn’t that ultimately what we’re all looking for in a Leader?

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