I was excited to read Shifting the Monkey: The Art of Protecting Good People from Liars, Criers and Other Slackers by Todd Whitaker (@toddwhitkaer) because I was curious about my role in the “monkey business” and how this was impacting me and everyone I serve.
Whitaker identifies monkeys as challenges, obligations,and problems that pop up in our jobs on a daily basis (p.3), but most importantly he identifies our role in shifting those monkeys back to where they belong: quickly, efficiently and without guilt.
I admit it. I feed the monkeys. In all aspects of my life I feed the monkeys. Initially I think some level of feeding the monkey is necessary but to continue to feed the monkeys does not serve anyone well.
Do you feed the monkeys?
- Have you ever taken on additional responsibilities because you viewed handling all conflicts and crises to be part of your leadership role?
- Have you ever taken on additional responsibilities because it is faster to do it on your own?
- Have you ever enabled your good colleagues to take on additional responsibilities because you know they are capable of shouldering many monkeys?
If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you have been unable/unwilling to shift the monkey back to its rightful owner. You feed the monkeys.Todd Whitaker’s book very simply gives those in positions of leadership key tips on how to shift the monkeys, to grow as a leader and protect our fellow colleagues with whom me serve.
Todd’s message is based on three key principles:
- Treat everyone well.
- Make decisions based on your best people
- Protect your good people first.
(Whitaker, Todd. Shifting the Monkey. 28)
Monkeys come in many shapes and sizes. It is natural for many leaders, especially me, to make the mistake of taking on monkeys, thinking that they are helping others. Placing the monkey back where it belongs does not make one a weak leader, nor does it make them unaccountable. In fact, strong leadership effectively and efficiently shifts the monkey back it where belongs and allows leaders to move forward with bigger goals while protecting and supporting colleagues who make every attempt to support the goals of the organization. Most importantly, by recognizing the monkeys and putting them squarely back where they belong, you are modeling accountability. As someone whose natural tendency is to feed the monkeys, this is much easier said than done! BUT it is vital to an organization that our best employees, as well as ourselves, are protected from taking on these monkeys!
I highly recommend Shifting the Monkey for anyone. Monkeys can creep up on us at anytime, in any aspect of our lives. The people who like to shift the monkeys onto us won’t change so it is up to us to take control and shift the monkeys back where they belong so that we can be the best leaders and people we can be. I am learning nobody benefits from us taking on someone else’s monkey. True leadership means taking control of the monkeys.
Click here for my visible learning on Shifting the Monkey by Todd Whitaker.