Recently, I had a minor disagreement with my teenage daughter. She asked for the family’s help in making a video on a subject that she is very passionate about – Bullying. We agreed to help her, however, the issue was that she wanted to make the video that same day. I told her that we already had a full schedule for that day but she was undeterred (read stubborn). She told me that the video was very important and that we needed to complete it today.
I asked why the video needed to be done today. She admitted that it didn’t need to be finished for another 4 weeks but that she didn’t want to forget. I repeated that we had other things to do for that day but that we could put the video on the schedule for the following weekend. That wasn’t good enough. She wanted it done today. I said “OK, then you have to do it yourself. We are all busy.” This caused another meltdown as she said that she needed our help. I gave her several suggestions on how she could do it herself to no avail. She wanted it done her way and she wanted it done today. Finally, I put my foot down and said she had to wait until next weekend. At that point, she said something that is very common to the parents of teenage girls – “Dad, you just don’t understand me.” Ah, the joys of being a parent.
Unfortunately, my daughter’s rant is something that is all too uncommon among leaders. We want what we want and we want it done our way. We develop a pride of ownership and think that since we were given the vision, no one is better than us in determining the plans for carrying it out. This is where we run into trouble and lose those who want to help us the most. As the drama with my daughter began to unfold, I was reminded of a conversation that I had with a colleague at work regarding her organization. She had big improvement plans but not a lot of patience. She constantly asks why things were not moving faster or why people were not following the exact plans that she laid out. Her key stakeholders were doing their best but her hard-driving personality would drive them crazy. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we must settle for mediocrity or wait a year to do something that can and should be done immediately. What I am saying is that to accomplish anything that is worthwhile, leaders must consider the capabilities and the needs of others. There are three (3) tips that I gave my colleague and my daughter to help accomplish their goals:
- It is not all about you – You may have a vision but the main objective of a leader is to serve others. Your core stakeholders must be just as invested in the vision as you are.
- Take time to Listen – As a leader, you may know the what but not the how for everything that needs to be done. Be sure to seek counsel and then listen to what people say. Not all advice is good but by being willing to listen, you may be able to gain a perspective that may help in ways that you didn’t think about before.
- Let Others Help – As a leader, your main job is to influence others to follow your vision. God told Moses His plan for building the Holy Tent but He didn’t give him the capability to do it. He gave that capability to others. It was Moses’ job to inspire others to do the work that they are uniquely suited for.
As leaders, we can accomplish far more with the help of key supporters than we can on our own. We are also given visions to accomplish so that we may serve others. Remember, it is not about you the individual but you the leader. If it was good enough for God and Moses, it is good enough for you.