A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Decisions, Decisions

I went into the store the other day to get a battery and in my quest to find them, I stumbled across Halloween Candy.

Halloween Candy…tons of it…in late August!  Good grief.

I love candy corn as much as the next gal but for me, it’s always too early for Halloween. Where I live, Halloween is cold, dark, and snowy and serves as foreshadowing of the six or more months to come.

Seeing all the Halloween Candy made me realize it was time to get Andrew, my six year old son, a costume, and I needed to do it fast.  He is trick or treating soon in “Trick or Treat in the Heat” and he doesn’t want to do it sans costume. So, as any good mother would, I grabbed my kid and proceeded to visit all the possible costume places in our little city.

After four stores and a few hundred “I changed my mind” moments, I found myself frustrated with my little guy.

Just choose one!” escaped my pursed lips more than once.

But alas, he could not because knowing what one wants to be for Halloween when you’re six is difficult, and no amount of pressure from your mom is going to make it any easier.


When I found myself too close to simply buying the next thing that fit him, I changed my approach.

I took him for a snack and asked him a few questions.

It’s amazing how much clearer our minds can be over Frozen Yogurt from the best shoppe in town.photo

“What do you like about Boba Fett?”

“Other than carrying a sword, what makes a Pirate cool?”

“Why are skeletons scary?”

“If you were a Ninja, who would you be protecting and why?”

“Is Hockey your favorite sport because you like skating or because you get to hit things with a stick?”

“Is Robin Batman’s best friend or an employee?”

“Do you think Dracula ever bites his lip?”

“How come no one gets to know that Superman is really Clark Kent but everyone knows that Ironman is Tony Stark?”

“What is it that makes a Power Ranger ‘powerful’?”

Andrew had lots of good answers to my questions and, as I am a trained investigator and damn fine interviewer, I followed up with some questions that brought him full circle…what his interests were, who he believed was exciting and fun, who he related to, who was “different” or “special,” etc.

By the time we finished our FroYo, without any further pressure from me, Andrew had narrowed down his costume choices to two: Iron Man and a Power Ranger, provided we could find the red one.




The rest of our shopping trip was a joy.  Because Andrew had made a decision, he could stay focused in the sea of all other costumes.  Knowing what he wanted eliminated the distractions over accessories that had nothing to do with his costume.  And, as an added bonus, he was excited that there was no risk that someone else (mainly me) would choose for him.

Imagine that…

Focus…leads to
Excitement…which helps with


While telling a friend about the day’s events, it occurred to me that what I did with Andrew was not unlike what I do (or should do) as a Human Resources Professional, Mentor, Coach, Advisor and Leader.

Simply put, I should help others explore.


It is not my job to make decisions for others, nor is it appropriate for me to get frustrated and irritated when they are unable to do so on their own.

It is not my job to persuade or otherwise trick people into making a decision that I want nor is it my job to assume ownership of the decisions they ultimately make.


Rather, it is my job to help others explore the possibilities.

I should

  • identify and allow for different perspectives to be considered;
  • point out the benefits and the risks of their decisions;
  • help them consider the consequences; and
  • facilitate thoughtful discussion about the issues.


Of course I have opinions and I’d like to think I have the right expertise.

I hope I have the wisdom to share both effectively when others need me to.

But in the end, it is their decision to make.

In the end, it is their life, job or project that is to be affected.

In the end, it is about them, not about me.


So that’s my story…


Is it poignant?  Doubtful.

Could it be eye opening?  Perhaps.

Was it a strong reminder about what I should be doing?  Certainly.



I don’t particularly like
Power Rangers,
but it is not about me.



Andrew loves them and,
for a few hours,
he’ll get to be the red one,
and that is just fine with me.




CommunicationsEmployee EngagementEmployee RelationsEngagementHappinessHuman ResourcesLeadershipMentoringPerformance ManagementRisk ManagementRole of HRSkill DevelopmentWorkforce Satisfaction

Heather Kinzie • September 1, 2013

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