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Blessing vs. Advice

Blessing hand

As an educator (coach, teacher, principal) for the past 27 years, I have spent a lot of time giving instruction.  For a good portion of that instruction, I have taken an approach that is methodical and western in presentation.  I teach, you listen…”  It has only been in the last few years that I have changed my approach and lead more by way of a more student discovery-like method.

Unfortunately, for many years, I carried this approach into the Husband, Father, Friend parts of my life.  Many times I could describe myself as a “fixer” or “advice-giver”.  In my heart I have felt like I am being helpful.  However, this method has bled into my ability to bless.  When I was put in a situation to bless, I would give advice or a charge.  Instead of speaking truth into someone about who he/she is, I would talk about what he/she would or should do.

Observations:

I’ve observed in our culture that we are a race of “human doings” instead of “human beings”.  Like me, I see so many gain worth from what they “do” rather than who they “are”.   Think about it.  What is a question you ask a new acquaintance once you have gotten past the “How about this weather…?” question?  Usually, question #2 is, “What do you do…?”  I believe this contributes to our over-stressed, workaholic society.  We base our worth on what we do.

As I began to work on blessing more than fixing and becoming a human being instead of a human doing, my awareness became heightened to how others bless.  At our school we have a couple of opportunities to speak publically into student’s lives.  One is when senior football dads have a chance to say something to their sons in the last pep-rally of the season.  Another is when a teacher gets to speak to each senior in their final Chapel assembly.  During these, even though there are some great things spoken, I noticed how there was more advice giving than actual blessing.   These adults gave great “My prayer for you…”, “My advice to you…”, “The challenge before you…” statements.  There were even very applicable Bible passages spoken over these students.  But, what I did not hear much of was “You are…”, “What I see in you is…”, “You possess…” statements.  Now, please do not hear me blasting the process or the heartfelt effort by these adults.  These are both sweet, beautiful times for these students.  It just makes me aware of how far I have come and how far I have yet to go as far as blessing others.

The task at hand:

Based on the above observations, I tried something with my men’s group the other night.  We started with the question, “What is it that you do that brings you the most worth or value in your life?”  After their answers and a couple of follow up questions, I asked the next question, “If that was suddenly taken away from you, how would your life be different?”  This became more difficult.  Then I asked the final question, “What is true about, you at your core that would still give you the same worth and value?”  You see, God gave us an inner goodness that we all can draw upon.  To be able to bless others, we must be able to see in ourselves our God given goodness.  The challenge to the group from this exercise was to go out bless three people over the course of the next few weeks (Bless).  We are to speak to who they are and what they do or will do (Advice).

I have found that when I give true blessings…when I speak to who the person is, it has a deeper impact than just advice.  I also find that when someone speaks to my character traits, my inner core of who I am, I am deeply blessed and strengthened by that core blessing.  Over the next few days, try these two things:

  • Notice where you fix or give advice rather than bless.
  • Find three people and speak a blessing about who they are rather than what they do or will do.

I have found this webpage from Character First particularly helpful when looking for traits or core truths:  Click Here  Start with those closest to you.  Start with family; your spouse; your children.  As much as you need blessings; so do they.   I believe the blessings we speak stay with a person for life.  Advice:  Quit giving advice and bless.

Phot credit:  Byron Myers

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Four Essential Characteristics of a Leader

Pic Mountain Climbers

 “What does it take to be a leader?”

“How do I know I am a leader?”

“Nobody asks me to be a leader for them.”

“Someone told me I’d be a great leader one day, but no one has shown me how.”

Above are some of the statements and questions I have heard through the years related to stepping into leadership.  At various times in my life, I have made similar statements.  While growing in my leadership and watching others lead, I have noticed four essential characteristics that all leaders possess.

Initiative:

To lead…a leader has to make a move.  A leader must have a certain level of decisiveness.  This initiative and decisiveness shows up in several ways:

  • To become a leader, a person must take and show initiative by asking.  I notice people who want to be leaders yet sit in the woods and voice a faint cry of, “Pick me…notice me.”  They never ask to be a leader.  Personally, how did I move to each of my leadership roles?  I asked.

  • The leader must do more than want and dream.  Dreams are great.  They become visions, plans, and outcomes when the leader takes action.

  • A leader must step into his power.  Step through barriers of fear and complacency.  Step in, not on.  Be assertive yet sensitive.  Use the God-given power, not power up.

  • Avoid being the victim and take responsibility.  Avoid blaming people or circumstances and own choices and decisions.

Patience:

Both becoming a leader and leading others requires patience.  Once one has asked to lead, a good balance of patience and initiative is required.  Stepping into leadership requires skills to be learned, training, apprenticing, etc. before moving forward.  Leading people requires trust in you…and trust takes time.  Here are some other points about patience:

  • Some things just take time.  If a leader rushes a process, he could actually create setbacks.

  • A leader must know how to submit to the leadership over him.  Patience allows for that submission to bear fruit.

  • Learning methods, people, terms, protocols; takes time.  Let it unfold.

  • Pay attention.  A leader has her thumb on the pulse of the group she is leading.  Patience creates room for growth and movement.

  • Watch for opportunities.  As one aspires to be a leader, he must watch for leadership opportunities.  Once in the role, a leader is attuned to new opportunities.

Knowledge:

All leaders possess a certain amount of knowledge in their area.  Most leaders have a vast amount of knowledge, that’s partially how they moved into leadership.  A leader is a “sponge”.  He is constantly soaking up knowledge.  Here are some other important effects of knowledge on leadership:

  • Leaders tap into previous knowledge.  What a leader carries experience-wise is quite helpful.

  • Leaders continue to learn about leadership.  They stay in contact with other leaders and soak in all they can.  It’s been said, “The day we stop learning is the day we die.”

  • Leaders are continually learning about themselves.  They continue to learn, look at and work on their gifts, their triggers, their wants, their dark places, their stretches, their weaknesses, and their strengths.

Application:

Whether you are a Christian or not, the Bible has some very wise advice for all.  In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus compares the difference between the wise and the foolish builders.  What is the difference?  The wise man “…hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…”  This is what I call the “get busy” characteristic.  A leader must apply his skill and knowledge.

  • A leader uses what she knows.  Knowledge is no good unused.  Application of that knowledge is powerful.

  • The application must fit the leader’s personality, be authentic, and natural.  A true leader’s personal touch and style becomes apparent.

  • A leader applies his knowledge and skill everywhere; not just where he leads.  To be authentic as a leader, one must live what he believes.

By far, this is not an exhaustive list of characteristics of a leader.  However, when assessing leaders, one would find all four of these characteristics at work in a leader’s everyday guidance.  Not all leaders begin with these characteristics.  For some, the skills have to be taught, noticed, developed, and/or awakened.  For some leaders, these are natural gifts.  But for all leaders, these four are both basic building blocks and essential.

10 Keys to Successful Hiring

 

As I work with Entrepreneurs, Employers, and Middle Managers, one of the issues each of these groups deals with is hiring and retaining good people.   It becomes difficult to make the right choice.  Sometimes it is a tough pool of candidates to choose from.  There are some great ones out there, but they cost too much.  There are much less expensive options but they are inexperienced or unqualified.  Once employers finally have a pool of candidates, the task becomes one of choosing who is best suited to fill the position.  And, let’s face it… Entrepreneurs, Employers, and Middle Managers can have what looks like the absolute right person and find out weeks or months later the person doesn’t fit or is leaving.

We don’t live in a perfect world.  However, we can take some steps to avoid the pitfalls of bad hiring.  Below are 10 Keys to finding that right candidate.  These can be quite helpful when you are ready to choose that next person right for your company.

  1.  Know yourself – What makes you tick?  What kind of person are you?  Are you task-oriented?  Are you “laid back”?  Do you need people to read your mind?  Are you one who expects people to be self-motivated to figure out their tasks?  Are you controlling?  What do you expect of yourself?  You need to answer questions like these.  Why?  You must know yourself so that you can hire both people like you and those who are a compliment to you and your personality.  Long term hires create stability.  By knowing yourself, you know who you can work with.

  2. Know what you are looking for – What needs are you filling?  What does the position require?  Does the position you have open allow for some growth?  Be sure you have a solid job description for your hire.  Also, know whether or not the new hire needs to meet every bullet point listed on the job description.  Some of my best hires have been people who did not fit the description exactly, but were the life-long learners, who brought fresh perspectives to the new position.  Would this person be the right fit?  What type of person are you looking for to fill this position (See #7)?

  3. Get the person talking – You have to be careful here.  There are EEOC laws at play.  But the earlier you get open-ended questions out there and get them talking about themselves, the earlier you will know if this person has a chance with you and your company.  Good questions to ask are:  How do you handle stress?  What do you expect in the way of benefits?  How do you view “down time” in the workplace? 

  4. Have more than one interview – In his book EntreLeadership, Dave Ramsey calls this “The Thirty-minute Drive-by Interview”.  Your first interview should be a short, get to know the applicant interview.  It should be short (30 minutes or less).  It should stay within the time-frame you have set.  It should have less information from you about your company and the position.  You’re screening here.  This short interview keeps you from wasting valuable time in the future.  Ask questions and listen.  Listen with these filters on:  Listen for hints into the person’s character.  Pay attention to attitude; about others in general, their former employer, life in general.  Listen for pieces of themselves and their experience that fit your criteria.  Listen for how educated they may be.  Not formal education…you get that from the resume’.  Are they articulate?  Do they have a grasp of social interaction?  How is their grammar?  See past their nerves.  Is this someone you can get along with?

  5. Do you relate with this person? – In other words, do you like them?  What was there “presence” like?   Did you connect?  The worst thing you could do is hire someone who meets all the qualifications, yet you do not like them.  Save yourself the heartache and don’t ask them for a second interview if you do not like them.

  6. Remember, you are filling a position and bottom line, they have to help the company – You may like this person.  You may feel like you need to help this person out.  But, you know in your gut, he/she does not qualify for the job.  Connection is important as stated above, but you answer to your supervisor or your customers or both, and a wonderful person who is incompetent is a problem. 

  7. Know personality types – Before we go too far here, I want to note that this is not as influential to the process as those who push the different personality indicators would advocate.  These days, there are so many different personality indicators out there from the DiSC model to StrengthsFinder.  Your company may already use some sort of personality indicator.  It is good to at least have a grasp of how you might categorize the person across from you.   This not the deal-breaker for you, but it is good to have an idea how to see this person fitting your need.  Remember first and foremost – this is still a human being sitting across from you and not just a certain type from a test or a book.

  8. Does this person just want a paycheck? – This is quite important.  Look for signs of desperation.  Chances are, if he/she is desperate, then this will not be the right hire.  Also, but not always related; if all the person is looking for is to make money, then it likely he/she will bring no joy to the job.  This person begins to complain and blame and cause problems in the long run. 

  9. Transition – Recognize that hiring for a new position is a transition.  You are either replacing someone with someone new or you are creating a new position.  Either way, you are interjecting a new piece to your company puzzle.  When looking at a replacement, do not replace.  You are never going to find one like you had.  You may even be upgrading (you may have fired to last person).  The cool thing about transitions, you can try new things.  You get to shape the position you are filling.  This is exciting as you look for that type of person to fill the gap.

  10. Get help/advice – Once you have some notes on the person or people you have interviewed, get some feedback from peers, supervisors, an outside coach.  Don’t go this alone.  Bounce your thoughts off of others. 

These 10 Keys are by far not exhaustive, nor will they automatically bring you the next employee of the year.  However, these Keys are a great framework to work from as you begin to find that next employee.  Remember this:  Do not separate your gut feelings from this process.  They will serve you well.

Bonus:

Here are a few great interview questions you can use in the first interview to see if this person may or may not be a fit.

  • Tell me a little about yourself.

  • What are some of your greatest strengths?

  • What are some of your weaknesses?

  • How do you handle situations that make you angry?

  • What would your previous employer list as your strengths?

  • What would your previous employer list as your weaknesses?

  • What contributions did you make in your previous position?

  • What have you attempted and failed to accomplish?

  • What do you know about our company?

  • How do you see yourself contributing to our company?

  • Give some examples of how you handled conflict.

  • What do you look for in a supervisor?

  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?

  • Describe and give examples of your loyalty?

  • What kind of reading to you do?

  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?

  • What have you done with your “down time” or “lulls” at work?

  • Why do you want to work here with us?

  • Why should we choose you for this position?

  • What can you do for us that someone else cannot?

  • If you had your own company, how would you lead the employees?

  • What are your expectations for this position?

  • If you were not to get this position, then would you be interested in another position with us?

  • Do you have any questions?  (They better, or you may not want to hire them)

Photo Credit:  Creative Commons

Possessing, Modeling, and Empowering: Three Keys to Leading Well

Hands team

Recently, I drove and staffed our youth mission trip at Camp Barnabas in Missouri. This is a camp ministry for children and adults with special needs and some disabilities (many spectrums of Autism and Down’s Syndrome).  This is a wonderful ministry and for the sake of this article, a great place for young leaders to begin practicing their call as leaders.

Each camper has a teen Missionary (Counselor) assigned to him/her.  Each cabin group has two leaders who are experienced college-aged Missionaries who lead each cabin.  This college-age range is where young leaders really begin to practice their call to be leaders.  As I served in this environment, my role of leadership was quite different than in most of the environments I lead.  Observing the young cabin leaders was an interesting glance back at leadership development.  One leader in particular stood out for me and observing him became the inspiration for what I am writing now.

This process of observation helped me realize that every leader must either possess or model the characteristics of what they expect those under him/her to practice.  If the leader does not possess or cannot model said characteristics, then he/she must empower others with said characteristics to lead under him/her.

My example from the young leader began on the first night.  He reported to the group that he struggled with joy and enthusiasm.  Now, part of camp is this push for what’s called the “JEFF” award.  Each day, the cabin units are to show behaviors modeled after each letter in the acronym “JEFF” – Joy, Enthusiasm, Fun, and Fellowship.  At the end of each day, a cabin unit is chosen that best displays the theme of the day.  The first two days were difficult for our young leader as he wasn’t quite sure how to draw out of our cabin the qualities of joy and enthusiasm.  This example helped me realize that a leader cannot expect out of followers what he does not possess himself, cannot model, or will not empower others to lead around these expectations.  I will dive into each one of these using our young leader as an example along the way.

  • Possessing – Our young leader expected Joy and Enthusiasm out of his followers…yet he did not possess abilities or gifts in this area.  As a leader, if I expect hard work out of those I lead, then I need to have a quality of being a hard worker.  I need to exhibit the behavior of hard work.  We can plug in any kind of characteristic or expectation or behavior.  In order to lead, we as leaders must possess what we ask our followers to take part in.

  • Modeling – If I do not possess this characteristic, gift, or talent, then I need to at least model what I expect.  Reading a book on inner power years ago, I learned that I can model the behavior and practices of those who might be more gifted than me.  The Author’s example was Michael Jordan, quite possibly the greatest professional basketball player ever.  You see, I am not as gifted and talented as Michael Jordan.  But If I model the way he plays basketball, I will become a better basketball player.  Likely, never at his level, but I will become better.   A potential trap here is to approach this in a “Fake it until you make it…” sort of way.  That would be unauthentic and my followers would see through this method.  The approach here for me is to model the behavior I want to improve.  As I model this behavior, it begins to become a new area where I can lead.  It truly becomes part of me.  Our Young leader was unable to model the behavior he desired the group to have and thus, the JEFF award became elusive.

  • Empowering others – If I do not possess the gift or characteristic and I have trouble modeling the behavior authentically or altogether, then I must empower others with this “giftedness” to lead in this area.  This feels dangerous both to the young leader and the insecure leader.  This can feel like the giving away of power and leadership ability.  This can be counter-intuitive to the new leader.  Yet, this is how a good leader leads.  He is aware of where he is lacking and allows others to use their giftedness to the fullest.  And, if a leader does not possess or model and then does not empower, then, many times, someone will empower themselves.  This might work out well or it may create undesired conflict that can damage the leader’s credibility and power as leader.

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell writes about the “Law of the Lid”.  Basically this refers to if a leader is an 8 in his leadership on a scale from 1-10, then his followers will perform no better than an 8.  This idea of possessing, modeling, and empowering fits within this law.

In no way do I want to come across as if I did not believe in the leadership potential of this young leader.  The Missionaries looked up to him, followed him and thought a lot about him as a person and a leader.  He is in his early stages of leading.  For me, watching from a distance, I was able to gain some perspective on both his leadership and mine.  It is good to go back to some basics as I continue to dive deeper in my leadership.  It is a great reminder for me that when I step into my expectations of those I lead my question to myself is, “Am I possessing, modeling, or empowering?”

How about you?  What is your lid?  When you lead and have expectations, do you possess those characteristics?  Or, are you modeling those characteristics?  Or, are empowering those around you so that your followers can meet expectations?

How to Handle Criticism

Critical pic

Handling criticism, whether direct or perceived, is a key component to effective leadership.  Many leaders do not handle criticism well or in a healthy way.  Because of the power of the position the leader is in, he/she may not be aware he/she is losing some level of effectiveness based on his/her handling of criticism or perceived criticism.

I have been doing quite a bit of work in my life on handling criticism and/or perceived criticism.  My first reaction to both direct and perceived criticism has been defensiveness.  Throughout my life, as I received criticism, I felt a personal attack on my character.  Drilling down beneath the perceived personal attack, I found that when the criticism seemed to question my competence, I would become defensive.  By becoming defensive, I believe that I am protecting that part of me that feels stupid, powerless, and inept.  Here are some of the results of my being defensive:

  • I damage relationships.  My defensiveness, left unchecked will manifest itself in condescending language and action on my part.  If pushed to the point of a sense of powerlessness, I will power up in order to not feel weak.  From this place, I attack others’ character and ultimately hurt them emotionally in order to protect me.  This hurt I inflict ultimately slows productivity.

  • I cut off opportunities for growth.  By becoming defensive, I cease listening to anything constructive or not, that may help me grow.  My lack of growth keeps me form being an effective leader.

  • I create a false sense of who I am.  By cutting off any chances at growth, I create a world that may not match reality.  When I am not in touch with that reality, I make poor decisions.

  • I become isolated.  Putting all the above together, I build walls and ultimately create a critical, lonely environment for myself.  When I am in this place, I cannot be trusted as a leader.

So, as noted in the opening, I have been working on what triggers my defensiveness.  I am beginning to get a handle on the source of my defensiveness.  However, I cannot stop there.  Just recognizing my defensiveness is a great help to me, but it alone does not keep me from defending myself when I feel my competence being questioned.  I need a tool to guide me through the landmines of criticism.

I recently ran across a great process for handling criticism (both direct and perceived).  It boils down to three questions I can ask myself as I feel a criticism coming my way.

  • What about this criticism is not true and needs to be discarded?  As hear what is being said and I check in around the core truth about me and my character, what do I need to just let bounce off of me?

  • What about this criticism is not true but needs to be addressed?  This is a little trickier.  There is a fine line between handling this in a healthy way and being defensive.  The criticism is not true about me or my character.  However, I might show up in such a way that I might be perceived as being characterized how my critic accuses me.  A statement I use is, “I can see where I can be viewed this way…” and then I give the critic some data he/she may not know.  Then, I offer that my actions were not my intention and will be conscious of how I show up in the future.

  • What about this criticism can help me to become a better person?  What is true about my actions or words?  What can I own and take responsibility for in this situation?  What new awareness about me can I glean from this criticism? (I have to be careful not to make myself a martyr…by doing so…I am being defensive in a manipulative way.)

By breaking the oncoming criticism into these three categories, it simplifies how to handle my defensiveness.  I don’t voice these when dealing with others necessarily, but I do use them.  Here is a hypothetical example:  “I hear you say that am inconsiderate and I don’t like you.  Not liking you is not true, however I can see where the recent exchanges we have had have been confrontational in nature and I could have come across as if I do not like you.  In our confrontations, I am being directive.  I will pay attention in the future on how my directive action comes across.  When I made my directive statements, I did not consider your feelings before speaking.  I do not want to be an inconsiderate person.  I will ask more questions about you before making directive statements in order to consider your feelings before I speak.”  The “discard” is…I don’t like this person.  The “addressed” is how I show up in confrontation.  The part to “make myself better” is to take into consideration the other’s feelings before making directive statements.

As is true with any strategy of self-improvement, there is no magic formula.  Hopefully, breaking this into three easy to remember steps, can give all of us some tools to avoid defensiveness and live a more rounded, authentic life.

Own It or It Will Own You

Handcuffs

“Own it or it will own you.” This was a phrase I used recently as I was working with a team around them taking responsibility for themselves when dealing with conflict. I recently read two great blog posts by John C. Maxwell relating to this subject. No “Blamestorming” allowed and Responsibility: The First Step in Learning.   From the Blamestorming article, Maxwell offers this: “Taking responsibility for your life, your actions, your mistakes, and your growth puts you in a place where you are always able to learn and often able to win.” And from the Responsibility article he offers: “When you take responsibility for yourself, you take responsibility for your learning.” I would add that when you take responsibility for yourself, you take control of you. What does that mean? Well, let’s go back to, “Own it or it will own you.” There are a few thoughts that come to mind around this statement.

First, if one does not take responsibility for himself, his circumstances control him and his actions. I have a good friend that has a great piece of guidance for his employees. When one of them becomes controlled by his circumstances, he will say, “Looks like you are in the passenger seat. What needs to happen is for you to get into the driver’s seat.” What a great way to look at that circumstance. If one does not take responsibility for oneself, others will control his/her life. Blaming other people, other things, and/or circumstances is like handing the steering wheel of our emotions to someone else and allows them to drive us in the direction they want. Most of the time that direction is not the one we want to follow. If we take responsibility for our life and choices, then we take control of our emotions that go with the circumstance. This is not to say that when we take responsibility for a mistake or poor choice that we will not suffer the consequences. However, those consequences do not define us as a person. When we do not take responsibility for the action, then the consequences will have us believe our choice is more about our character than our choice.

Second, if one does not take responsibility for herself, she becomes a victim. How do I know when I am a victim? When I am making excuses for what is going on in my life. When one casts blame on her circumstance through her excuses, she is a victim and powerless to move in a healthy direction. Excuses feel like power.  Momentarily, the discomfort one feels from her circumstances is numbed by excuses. It feels much better at first to blame someone or something.  In the long run, the blamer is the victim and powerless.  A victim mentality is so hard to remove ourselves from.  It is so much easier to blame someone or something else for our circumstance.  It can make us feel better.  However, blaming really does not allow us to look at ourselves and where we need to grow.  Blaming allows us to play victim and keeps us from looking at the possibility that we might be failing at what we are attempting.  When playing victim, we are no longer in control.  We have given the power to something beyond ourselves.  It is easier that way until we realize we are not getting what we really want. Until we take responsibility, we are under someone else’s ownership.

Third, a lack of healthy responsibility creates inaction.  Look no further than our country’s current situation regarding the political scene.  I do not have to take a side here to see that the blame game is at its height during this current power struggle in our government.  Notice how the lack of owning responsibility has created deadlock and inactivity; and the consequences are becoming widespread.  When we do not take responsibility for our lives and circumstances, we create a gridlock in our world.  Procrastination has some of its roots based on the inaction created by not taking responsibility for ourselves.  How many times have you regretted the chances missed due to procrastination?  What other opportunities have been missed by inaction?  And…this turns back to the vicious cycle blaming and “victimitous”.

Finally, a lack of healthy responsibility creates a sense that we are “misunderstood”.  When I do not take responsibility that I have not communicated well, I begin to feel like I am misunderstood.  In all actuality, that feeling that “I am misunderstood” is a form of blaming the other person.  It is likely I have not communicated clearly what is going on in me or my intentions, expectations and/or instructions.  Before feeling “misunderstood”, maybe I need to check to see if I was clear in my communication.

Good leaders and managers take responsibility for themselves.  By taking responsibility, they step into the driver’s seat and have power over their choices.  Even when the choice was a poor one, taking responsibility is much more powerful that shirking said responsibility.  Giving up responsibility gives power the excuse, etc.  Taking responsibility keeps the power in our court.  It allows us to make a different choice.  It also shows a great example of how to stand in power.

Where are you giving up your power and sitting in the “passenger seat”?  Which of the four above examples do you tend to follow?  What can you change to regain your power?

Here… Let Me Help You With That

Guitar lessonsAs I was growing up, my dad and I would do things together as many fathers and sons do.  Usually, if we were trying to accomplish something, I would not quite know how to do some aspect of the project.  That is when dad would step in and say, “Here…let me help you with that.”  He would then proceed to take over and I was done.  In many ways it was just easier for him to take over and finish.  I learned some of how things were done by watching, but not as deeply as I could have if he would have shown me and I could do it myself.  Now, dad did not intend for me to feel shame or incompetence, he just wanted to get it done.

This affected me more than I realized.  I notice how this still shows up for me in two ways:

  • When I begin something new to me, I feel like a dummy.  I’m not sure where to begin, or I get part way in and I’m lost.  I sometimes lack the tools to work through something I do not understand.  Dad did it for me.

  • I find that I have done the same thing with my son.  My brother and I jokingly say, “HERE” at times when it comes to showing someone how to do something.  I have done the “HERE” many times with my son and have never given it back or talked him through what I am doing in order to train him.

I tell this entire story to make a point about one of the differences between good leaders and great leaders.  Good leaders have some natural ability to lead.  In many ways they use their abilities well.  They have drive, determination, influence, connection, knowledge, initiative, etc.  In fact, they are typically servant leaders.  They leading by doing what they lead (lead by example).  In fact, many times they became leaders due to their competence in the area they now lead.  These are all good and are some building blocks of great leaders.

A stepping stone to great leadership is creating other leaders.  And for me, that is where the “HERE” story gets in the way.  Where I lead, I am competent in what I do.  I lead by example and typically work side by side with those I am leading.  However, I tend to practice, “Here…let me help you with that.”  I may not say that.  But what I will do is notice a task still left undone and instead of training someone to do it, I do it myself.  It’s just “easier”.  When I do this, two things happen:

  • I stifle the growth of those I am leading.  I enable them to stand in the status quo.  I may frustrate them.   In the long run, their stifled growth does not help me or the group I am leading.

  • I exhaust myself.  I actually become resentful that I am so needed because I created that world by doing it myself.

So, the challenge for me is to communicate what is “in my head” to those I am leading.  My tendency is to see something that needs to be done.  I will either do it myself.  Or, I will let it go so that someone else will step up and do it.  In both cases, I do not communicate and train and neither case works out well.  What has to happen is my intentional communicating to those around me what needs to be done.  I need to make agreements as to who will take on those tasks.  I need to train and not take over where uncertainty exists.

Your next step in leadership may be to communicate what is in your head to those you lead.  Empower those around you instead of taking the “HERE” approach like I have so many times.