I’ve always been a proponent of group decision making, especially when it comes to volunteer organizations. I’m a strong believer that if you are willing to contribute to the group, you should at the very least be heard as to the direction of the group whether they choose your path or another. It’s important to have your voice and use it in order to grow.
I was recently involved in some decision making that involved the need to reach a consensus with two other people. One of these persons is someone who has continuously failed to contribute in the role that afforded him this opportunity. This person has proven unreliable in both his duties and his commitment to the organization as a whole when the group has chosen not to go down his path.
The other person is someone who has fulfilled all the duties expected of him and contributed excessively in his role that afforded him this decision making opportunity. This was the person that I conversed, debated, and pondered this decision with. We came to an agreement and made the decision known.
At the last minute, a person outside the group chose to challenge that decision. I have no problem with their challenge, but rather the way they did it. In an e-mail they chose to attempt an attack on my reputation with this passage*:
I would not want your image of openness and fairness tarnished over such an oversight. The group should come to a consensus about the decision and they should not be selected by only the input of a part of that group.
*Two words have been changed from the original to provide anonymity
I think its important to understand that reputation is based upon the perception of action or the lack thereof. My reputation of “openness and fairness” is one that is perceived by those around me over time.
Since I have openly pointed out and sometimes downright chastised the individual who failed to contribute, it should be no surprise that I would not depend on their input in making a decision. I am not a fan of rewarding those who perform poorly with influence over decisions and I assure you, it was not an oversight. If my reputation would be “tarnished” by that, well that’s okay.
It’s okay because one opinion does not a reputation make. Nor does two, three, or even four. I am understanding of the inability to please everyone all the time, and therefore I do not set that as a goal for myself. Some will feel the decisions are good, some will feel they are bad. Some of the decisions will be right, and some of them will be mistakes. Only time will tell the outcome, but in the meantime I continue to make the decisions I do based on the accumulation of my experience.
Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience.
This is why I don’t worry about my so called “tarnished” reputation. I don’t feel the consensus we reached was a mistake. If it turns out to be one, then that’s fine. I’ll learn from it and be better next time. The only thing I can hope for is the person who attempted to bait me with that foolish e-mail will learn from his.
Only time will tell.