I am the kind of person who enjoys being in the presence of people who see life from my point of view. When I am with these people, I am happy, calm and in control. No tension or emotion is rising because all our conversations are agreeable. I don’t have to think outside my box because everyone is in the box with me, no disagreements. I like living like that. I suspect the same is true for you.
But if I want to grow as a person, and more so as a leader, I cannot afford to surround myself with only those who see things like I do. I must have some people around me who see things differently. People who can challenge me in my ways of thinking and doing things. This can be uncomfortable, painful and difficult. But this is necessary if you are going to grow and develop.
Leadership is first about those you lead and secondly about the results you achieve. So, are you focused on the task to be accomplished or the people under your leadership who accomplish the task? Many successful leaders will tell you that it was only when they became people-focused that they were able to achieve success.
Some leaders hold to a popular idea which says, “When you show up for work leave your personal problems at the door.” If this were possible, you would not have embezzlements, affairs, fights, drugs and alcohol abuse in the workplace. As a result of this kind of thinking, many leaders do not want to know about the personal struggles of those they lead. Very often these same leaders are seen as uncaring and demanding.
Good and successful leaders are approachable leaders. Their followers find it easy to approach them with whatever concerns they may have. Good leaders don’t hear things from third parties, their followers are comfortable with approaching them directly.
Approachability comes over time as you, the leader, intentionally create a culture of trust and openness so your followers can feel safe and confident in approaching you. There are a number of things you can be intentional about in your leadership that will make you an approachable leader.
It is one thing to know thyself; it is quite another to embrace what you know about yourself. You really cannot effectively make yourself known to others if you have not embraced who you are.
The struggle to embrace the real you may have come from a number of different places.
Most of us grew up hearing the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” My friends, wherever that phrase came from, it is far from reality. The pain that words can cause is as deep as the deepest sea! Words can hurt and they can hurt deeply.
Think of how many conflicts you either have been a part of or have seen others engage in that were all about the words that were spoken. Wars have been started over words. People have been killed or physically hurt because of words. To say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true.
Simon Sinek, in his book on leadership Start with Why, wrote the following:
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves.
John Maxwell made the saying, “leadership is influence,” famous as trainer and coach of leaders worldwide. But when we talk about leadership as influence precisely what do we mean?
One definition of influence is, “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.”
Influence can be derived from one of two places. The one is the use of power and authority that comes with leadership to impel the behavior and opinions you want. This kind of leadership is using position and power to manipulate the outcome you desire.
As a leader, are you aware that your style of leadership and the direction in which you lead is a direct reflection of where you are centered or focused?
Usually a leader is centered on one of three areas:
Each of those shapes your leadership style, influence, accomplishments and legacy. Here’s how:
Try as you may, you cannot avoid conflict in relationships. It is a natural part of our human existence. As such, you need to figure out how best to deal with it rather than avoid it.
When all you do is try to avoid conflict in a relationship, you are only allowing it to get worst. The longer you wait or the harder you try to avoid it, the worse the conflict will become.
The Lenten season serves to remind us of many things, including our humanity (really, our mortality!) and our dependence on God. For most of us though, we have the tendency to first rely on our humanity and only turn to God when we have exhausted our human options.
The story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matt.4: Lk.4) is a good reminder to us that if we are going to have the victory over any temptation, we must learn to rely on God more than we rely on our own strength and resources.