Project Management

Dealing With Disappointment

Alesia Latson

How you handle your disappointment in a team member speaks volumes about your leadership style. And it will affect your credibility with the entire team and within your organization. The key is to use the situation as a coaching opportunity. Here’s how.

Disappointment is inevitable for project leaders. At times team members will disappoint you, and there will also be instances when you disappoint others. So the fact that disappointment occurs isn’t the challenge. The real issue to address is how you respond to the disappointment. Unfortunately, far too many leaders react poorly to disappointment. You’ve likely seen the scenario. Someone misses an important deadline, and the leader responds by removing responsibility or some other punitive action.  

Such consequences are often nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the leader — and a missed opportunity for the leader to shine. In reality, how you handle disappointment speaks volumes of your leadership style and your credibility in your organization.

To make the most of a disappointing situation and use it as the coaching opportunity it is, consider the following suggestions:

Manage and assess yourself

Before talking with a team member about the disappointing situation, you first have to manage yourself. In other words, you have to be clear on what your intention is …

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You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!

- Dave Barry