What I learned about “leading up” from being yelled at in the parking lot

The other day I was meeting a friend for dinner in a relatively busy part of town. All of the parking for the restaurant was full (not surprising if you’ve ever tried to visit Nashville), so I decided to park down the street in an empty bank lot. It was after hours and the bank had been closed for a couple of hours. As I was getting out of my car, an older gentleman yelled at me from across the street. “YOU CAN’T PARK THERE! THAT’S FOR BANK CUSTOMERS ONLY!”

Leading Up

My first reaction was to yell back… “Are you kidding? The bank’s closed you idiot!” Thankfully, I caught myself before I reacted and instead tried to respectfully communicate that I recognized the rule, but people parked in the lot all the time after bank hours.

Are you being criticized for “parking illegally”?

As Millennials, we’re extremely passionate and confident about the ideas we bring to the table. We’re not afraid to challenge the status quo and stand up for the things we believe are going to improve our work, organizations, and the world as a whole. However, we often feel like we’re being yelled out from across the street from the people we work under and alongside.




Whenever we receive this kind of feedback it’s easy to respond negatively. Sometimes we feel like yelling back or completely ignoring the response. Other times we feel defeated. However, if we’re truly going to make a difference and become a generation of great leaders, we need to learn how to “lead up” and deal with these situations in a healthy way.

3 lessons about “leading up” I learned from the man across the street

As I think back to my interaction in the parking lot, here are 3 lessons we can learn when it comes to “leading up” to those who are yelling at us from across the street.

1 – Reassess your idea. The first thing we need to realize is that feedback isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even though I faced opposition, I reconsidered whether or not I should stay parked in the lot. When opposition arises, take time to reassess your idea. If it still holds up after you’ve considered the feedback, take the next step.

2 – Respectfully respond. This is a chance to communicate your thoughts while still respecting those who think they know better. Stand your ground, but do so in humility.

3 – Move on. After talking with the man, I had two options: re-park my car or move on. You have the same option. Once you’ve reassessed the idea and respectfully responded, you can either carry out your vision or take a different path. Don’t let one interaction “ruin your dinner.” Carrying around every piece of criticism we ever receive will destroy us.

What happens when we take this approach?

Luckily, my approach worked. My car didn’t get towed.

Whenever you learn how to “lead up” when you’re faced with similar situations you set yourself apart by creating a new idea, solving a problem, or developing a new system for the way things are done.

What are some ways you’ve learned how to “lead up” when it comes to responding to feedback from your superiors or peers?