When they called out our son’s name, we were stunned. To his and our complete surprise, he received our congregation’s annual award given to a single person who touches, inspires and betters others who come in contact with him. We beamed. He beamed. His grandmother cried. Our other son said, “Hey dude, way to go.” My husband looked at me and said, “We must have done something right.”
Perhaps we did, but I try not to take credit. Our kids can be great in spite of us. As a parent, I think it’s critical to remind your children how proud you are and encourage them to be the best they can be. Yet, in the workplace, that is not always the case.
Recently, I worked with a newly hired younger client who is clearly poised to climb the ladder. When we were introduced, the first words out of her mouth were, “I can do what you do, but don’t have the time which is why they’re bringing you in to coach these people.” Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.
In every meeting, she interrupted, tried to coach executives I was hired to help and continually looked for opportunities to show off to the boss which meant taking credit for other people’s ideas. I have to wonder when she’s finally the boss, what kind of boss will she be?
Leading means letting go. It means taking pride in the strengths of others and utilizing their skills to help people succeed. Perhaps this comes with experience and even age, but an off-the-cuff negative remark signaling your own insecurities and lack of confidence in others can foster an atmosphere of distrust, uncertainty and hostility.
A few weeks ago, I attended a reunion of former Philadelphia broadcasters. We laughed until our sides hurt reminiscing about days gone by. Yet so many memories focused on shortcomings of past news bosses. There was the news director who threw a typewriter through his glass office window. His outbursts were so common that no one really paid attention to them. There was the editor who screamed obscenities at people in hopes of motivating them. And there was the person who drove more than one woman to tears when he purposely put her down in front of people. Somehow, much of this was tolerated.
Perhaps it was the era, but leaders and aspiring leaders of all ages can learn significant lessons to help them lead by pushing others to excel.
Communicate Vision: When you help others understand how they can play a role in achieving your vision, you empower them to contribute and succeed.
Seek Input: Inviting multiple voices and perspectives into the process sparks new ideas, collaboration and teamwork.
Remind People They Are Valued: Successful leaders understand that praise, recognition and emotional sensitivity create authenticity.
Walk the Talk: Clearly articulate your expectations and observe the rules you put in place for others to create an atmosphere of openness and trust.
As we were leaving the ceremony, one of my son’s teachers shared a story about how he made another classmate feel valued. She said they were on an overnight trip and one of the kids was having a hard time being away from home. She said our boy nurtured that child until she forgot about being homesick and began participating in the activities. At a young 16, he intuitively exhibits strong leadership characteristics.
Good leaders push others to be the best they can be. Good leaders inspire others to follow. Good leaders lead by example. Good leaders look to others for help and guidance, understanding it only makes them stronger. Like parents, good leaders focus on others to create an engaging workplace. Good leaders know when to say, “Hey dude, way to go!”