The phrase “airing grievances” originated in the United States prison system as a way for inmates to release themselves from emotional burdens, anxieties and resentments.
The phrase has since been adopted by various communities outside of prison, still encompassing the idea of releasing oneself from emotional burdens or anxieties and getting issues off our chest.
Last week, Alabama Coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M headman Jimbo Fisher took turns airing their grievances toward one another — a back-and-forth that was bad for their sport and ultimately shined a negative light on their leadership skills.
Saban was wrong for attacking A&M, which is operating within the framework of the NCAA rules in pursuing recruits, and Fisher is wrong for going after the man who helped his career, and elevating his attacks to the personal level.
No one wins in a verbal spat, except the media who keep the fight going for clicks and views.
Both Saban and Fisher lost sight of the most important elements of leadership: addressing their main audience and the people they lead. By creating this feud, they brought attention to themselves instead of their programs in what were ultimately two displays of selfish leadership. When we lead this way, we place the needs of the self before the needs of the team.
The truth is that complaining doesn't really get us anywhere, and it won’t benefit Alabama or Texas A&M.
We can complain about how unfair the world is and how obstacles keep coming our way. We can complain about our boss, the weather and anything else that goes awry in a day. But in the end, no one really cares, and our complaints will rarely draw sympathy.
What really matters is our results, and to achieve a desired outcome, we need to decide to stop complaining and instead confront our challenges head-on.
This is what both Saban and Fisher must do now: accept the reality of the new rules and the changes in college football, find solutions from within, and stop complaining.
As leaders, we weaken our effective when we complain and inspire our followers to moan too whenever they're forced to adapt to a new situation.
As leaders, our job is always to find solutions, not to gripe.
And our grievances should never be taken public.
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