There Goes the Neighborhood

For the past five days I have been upset with my neighbor. He has no idea.

It started out innocently enough on Saturday when my wife and I were taking a stroll around the two mile loop in our subdivision. About half way around, my wife noticed three cars, parked adjacent to a driveway, up ahead of where we were. Her pace quickened.

My worst nightmare . . . Garage Sale!

I thought to myself, How bad can it be? Neither of us have any money. Fifteen minutes and eight items later we were on our way home to get the truck and some cash. Nothing like a neighbor who takes an I.O.U.

My daughter and I drove back to the neighbor's house to pick up an old wooden chair we had bought for five dollars. The woman who sold it to us said she was giving us a good deal because it was no good to her. Her words, “My husband bought it at a garage sale seven years ago, and it has been sitting in our basement under some boxes since the day he brought it home.”

When we pulled in, there was a man standing in the driveway who had not been there earlier. The man that I am upset with.

Before I had opened the tailgate, he walked up to my little girl and said in a gruff tone, “The chair is not for sale. It is mine, and I told my wife not to sell anything until I got out of bed and approved it.”

Let’s just say his wife (the one who had set everything up and done all of the work while he was in dreamland) had a look of humiliation on her face. She apologized and walked back over to her money table as he berated her a second time in front of us and a couple of other customers. The bad news is, he had no clue he had even done anything wrong.

As we left the sale without the chair, I couldn’t help but think of the millions of people in organizations everywhere who make good decisions that make sense in the trenches, only to be squatted on by their leaders who have lost touch with reality.

If you are responsible for a team, one of the best things you can do is empower your people and get out of the way. Assuming you have hired the right people, they are likely better positioned to make wise operational decisions than you are.

As for my neighbor, he lost a customer, alienated his best team member (spouse), and has nothing to show for his actions other than an old wooden chair that is back in the basement under the things that didn’t sell.

Was it worth it?

Not if he needs a cup of sugar anytime soon.





Have you ever had a supervisor overrule a decision in front of someone else? How did it make you feel?



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