One question is currently reverberating in our household. “Daddy, can I help you?” This question is repeated by one of our three kids at least once a day.
At first, it would irritate me. The timing isn’t always convenient. Like yesterday. I was in the middle of a small construction project. At hand, I had both power and hand tools. Not the best combination especially with kids around.
Darkness was approaching and the skies were grey with heavy clouds. Time was running out, the last thing I wanted was an interruption.
When you run your own business, each minute you can invest in it is valuable. It is easy to take on a return-on-investment approach. Any deviation can determine whether you get paid or not.
I was torn between accepting their offer for help or plodding on solo with my project. The former prevailed. I remembered these words from Warren Bennis:
“Many an institution is very well-managed and very poorly led. It may excel in the ability to handle each day all the routine inputs yet may never ask whether routine should be done at all… Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.” ~Warren Bennis
The earlier question – “Daddy, can I help you?” – solidified my perspective of leaders and leadership. It was also an opportunity to connect with my followers.
1. Leaders are chosen
I was having a heated leadership discussion with some friends. Their definition and thinking of leadership was wide and varied. Frustrated about the direction the arguments were taking, I blurted out: “A position does not make a leader as much as standing in a garage makes you a car!”
Leadership is a symbiotic relationship with your followers. One can’t thrive without the other. By asking to help me, my kids chose me to lead them into an expedition. I guess they wanted to connect with me and learn in the process.
2. Leaders listen with the mind
It is very easy to miss out on leadership opportunities. Listening is an intimate way to bond with your followers. It is like dancing the tango, a style that must have a lead and a follow. If this intricate balance is lost, the dance breaks down. And someone can get hurt!
The same can be said of leadership. When your followers call, you must be tuned to their frequency. Listening involved actively engaging with your followers. My kids called out to experience leadership from me. The dividend was my deeper conversations with them because I chose to listen in the first place.
3. Followers are the key to the lock
I propose that your leadership is unlocked by your followers. This comes as a result of being accountable for your gifting, tools and expertise. As you openly serve them, your followers are inspired to seek you out as they grow. Their willingness to be led simultaneously grows your leadership.
There’s an Afghan proverb that I love… “If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.” This is why I believe that your followers are the key to your leadership vault. As I welcomed my kids into my construction, they blessed me with the opportunity of patience. My leadership grew as I worked with them.
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” ~Stephen R. Covey
Are these perspectives applicable in the workplace? Absolutely! Liz Stincelli sums it up beautifully… “Your leadership should never be about you; your focus every day should be on creating… situations where not only the organization wins, but employees win.”
Q: Have you missed out on simple opportunities to grow your leadership? Have your say by clicking here.