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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Correction Not Direction

There seems to be a school of thought where people put others in the position of needing to be corrected. I have often wondered if the motivation behind this practice was purposeful or if it is simply a by-product of not knowing what to do until those employing this practice see what someone else has done.

If it is the latter, it is unfortunate because often we all see things differently which leads us to do things differently. This does not mean what is done is wrong. It just means it may not be what those in charge would have done it.

Early on in my business life, I believed no one could do whatever I was doing better than I could. This led me to stifling those around me. Why? It is simple really. I believed there was only one correct method, and it was mine.

Obviously, this was shortsighted and incorrect, yet it was how I went about life for many years.

Fortunately, I discovered this early on in my career and made the corrections needed to achieve success. I did so by letting others do what they do their way. I would simply provide directions for what needed to be accomplished and observe the results.

There is another method I find exasperating. It is the method of providing "correction not direction". Those using this method seem to relish watching someone moving in the wrong direction.

Here is where opinions are sought but decisions regarding those opinions have already been made. Here is where we see people exerting positional authority because they can, not because they should.

It is a fascinating thing to experience because providing “correction not direction” really makes no sense. Just as it makes no sense to seek opinions for decisions that have already been made.

So why does this occur?

I believe there are a myriad of reasons, all of which start with a willingness to impose our will on others. Perhaps it is not as strong as imposing our will, maybe it is more like wanting others to simply do as they are told.

Either way, it is a self-serving perspective, and it stifles others by negating their desire to be a part of the decision-making process at every level.

Ironically, providing direction makes the need for correction less likely. It is also an opportunity for empowering others to be creative and come up with ideas, thoughts, and methods those providing direction may not be capable of seeing or doing.

The difficulty in allowing people to go in their own direction is it takes a sense of security many who are leading in life do not possess.

The question I have, is how do I make sure I am not practicing the method of “correction not direction”? I do so by directing others to provide input. Then, if that input is better than my thoughts or ideas, I implement it.

A fascinating thing about directing instead of correcting is, it does not diminish the leader. In fact, it enhances their position because what is best for the organization benefits those who lead it.

This only works when we understand, others may be better at what they do than we are. When we can do this, we will discover no correction is necessary!

Proverbs 8:33,Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.

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