I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya

I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won’t do the same”

Bruno Mars, Grenade

My wife hates this song lyric; I’m not crazy about it, but saying I hate it would be a bit strong. As a former song writer, I understand that when one puts words down in a lyric that sometimes you look for something to stimulate emotions from your audience that you know might be pushing the edge a bit. Back in the 80’s, I wrote a couple of lyrics that, in my life today, I’d definitely change to something else, make them a bit more politically correct, but that’s the power of hindsight.

Strangely enough, the message of the song is something I see people do every day, or at least enact in some fashion, not only for someone they love but for their jobs. As much as many people gripe about their jobs, they will go through almost anything to get to their jobs, get it right, worry about not being perfect, feel unappreciated, then head back home at the end of the day wondering why they do that, only to repeat the same activity the next day.

In coaching sessions, I’ve often given what I call the “time” test. I only use it on people who say they have problems with time in some fashion and we’ve talked about it a little bit. In general, what I ask people to do is write down 5 things that are important to them, in order if possible. Then I ask them to look at what they’ve written down and apply their time principles to those items. Every time, the item at the top, which is often a spouse or loved one, is treated the worst when it comes to time; the job is almost always treated the best when it comes to time, whether they’ve said they like that job or not. It hasn’t failed yet, which is why I’ve found it so interesting.

As a leader, you might like that kind of commitment, but you should be wary of it as well. People can focus so much on a job that they forget that there are other things than just the job. They take everything that happens in the organization personally, whether it affects them or not. They get protective of everything within, and thus are often the people who are the hardest to get to change processes and procedures. And if they’ve outlasted a number of managers and supervisors over their career, then sometimes you’ll wonder who’s leading whom.

Something else to worry about is just how being overly protective of an organization can harm the company. It’s the type of thing that can lead to an employee doing illegal things such as violations of privacy. It can lead them to NOT report on something bad that they think will bring the company bad publicity like not reporting safety hazards in certain areas. It could lead them to sabotage in some other ways, such as altering a file on a shared computer to reflect something untrue. And it could lead them into being coerced into doing things that aren’t right, such as cooking the books.

If you have employees that are obsessed with the business, you need to make sure they’re not taking things too far. You might not think it’s fair, but as a leader you need to make sure everyone has a proper sense of balance between work and personal life. If it’s you that’s driving people into this type of behavior, stop it right now and think about the employee instead of just yourself. It’s the right thing to do.

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