Note: If you haven’t read the preceding entry: Rules of the Trail and Learning from Others at Work, you might want to jump back there first.

I couldn’t do much about the hikers coming down when I was coming up, but an opportunity arose when I was coming down. Two young men were coming up the trail at a pace that I envied. I made a little show of stepping aside and saying: “Uphill hikers have the right-of-way!” One said: “Thanks!” and I said: “Yes sir!” Their smiles told me that they enjoyed the courtesy. It got me thinking about how, as managers, we can pass useful messages more effectively by catching people doping things right, rather than wrong.

There is also a “know when to hold and when to let go” piece here. I simply can’t educate every hiker in Tucson to the right-of-way rule.  If I am trying, it says more about me and my obsessions than anything else.

Being courteous to those two hikers with a step-aside may have conveyed that I hope they will do the same with other hikers. I do know that it got me out of fantasy power-tripping, and I had fun being a good citizen.

Minutes later, I encountered a second group of uphill hikers. They started to stand aside for me, and I had fun telling them the rule, and standing aside for them. The woman at the front broke out into a big smile and said: “Oh! I didn’t know that!”

Management doesn’t always have to be hard.


Up Next: Lost on Pima Canyon Trail, Found at Work