I have had the privilege of mentoring several young leaders (and some very tenured executives) over the course of several years. One of my mentee's came to me last week and shared with me that he is extremely frustrated. I asked his permission to use his struggles to craft a blog that I believe may help others and he generously gave his permission.
I had to laugh out loud when he said, "if my flaws can help others - then I'm game." I so appreciated his humbleness, although he admitted he said it out of complete frustration at the time. When we finished the session he admitted how that statement was actually a direct reflection of his own leadership style; which makes him a great leader in the making.
If we're all honest and transparent about our leadership careers, we would openly admit that it certainly is not a bed of roses, but more like limbs of thorns with occasional roses that bloom. The reality is, the thorns help us appreciate the flowers. How we handle hardships and trials (the thorns) determine the lessons we learn and help us appreciate the beauty of leadership and life in general.
I tell all of the individuals I have the privilege to mentor that, "it's not if you fail, it's when you fail. The key is whether you learn from your failures or not, and ultimately if you get up and try again or if you let it defeat you."
For me personally I learn something new every day. I work hard to stay humble and appreciative of the life I have been given. I also know what is at the forefront of every decision I make.... 1) My Faith and 2) My family!
What I love about those that seek me out as their mentor is that they fully understand that everything I teach and consult on is based on biblical principles and family values. In my world, at the end of the day I reflect back and ask myself these two simple questions:
1) Did my actions reflect that of my faith and the Bible?
2) Would I be proud if my family knew the decisions I made?
I can honestly say the answers have not always been yes.That doesn't make me a bad leader - it makes me an honest one. It is what keeps me moving forward. It's what drives me to do better the next day. And, I will be the first one to ask for forgiveness when needed. If you cannot do it - then do not expect your staff to either. It's that simple.
I have a little girl that looks up to me. In my daughters eyes I am a hero. I am strong and wise and I know no fear. We all know that may not be the truth. I am scared. I make mistakes. I require do-overs. However, I do not quit!
What keeps me going is I know the value of what I plant determines the harvest I will reap. What do you want to harvest? How do you want to be seen through your own child's (or employees) eyes?
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)
Anyone in a leadership position, that is doing it right, will tell you that "Leadership Is Hard!" In the end, it really is no different than parenting.
Regardless of whether you're just starting out in your career as a newly promoted leader, or you're a tenured executive with 20+ years under your belt, it's hard. You often have to make tough choices that impact your company, your team and ultimately their family. Often you have to do things that are very unpopular and misunderstood. Being in a leadership role you are often left vulnerable and sometimes undermined. Don't quit!
Please do not misunderstand me. I absolutely love leading, training, coaching and developing individuals into great leaders themselves - that's the easy part - especially when they are ambitious and coach-able individuals.
When the above happens though, it really boils down to a few facts I want you to remember.
- It's about being honest.
- It's about being confident in yourself and wise enough to take the advice of those you trust. (Get a mentor)
- It's about understanding the facts, not the emotions.
- It's about being fair to all, not just a few.
- It's about courage and vision.
- It's about humor and humility.
- It's about a healthy balance of firmness and flexibility.
- It's about making tough decisions.
- It's about being coach-able and being able to coach.
- It's about loving to be a servant.
- It's about giving the same amount of respect as you expect in return.
- It's about standing up for what you believe in.
- It's about sitting down and being quiet when you're wrong.
- It's about putting yourself in the hands of a higher power and having the faith to let that power guide your actions.
- It's about being a positive influence.
- Last, but certainly not least, it's imperative that you always remember it's a privilege to lead others.
While being a leader takes courage, discipline, and determination - it can bring great success, but it can also come at the cost of being judged and overwhelmed. You have to find your happy balance. The hard reality is, not everyone is cut out for leadership positions with a title, but every day we are all called to be a leader and set positive examples.
Here are a few Bible verses that will help you, whether you carry a title or not:
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Hebrew 13:7)
"He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30)
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." (Philippians 2:3)
"Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." (Luke 6:31)
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:20)
I have a few openings if you are seeking a mentor or life coach. I pray you will contact me and let me help you achieve that successful leadership career your heart desires or just improve your life's journey.
Anyone that follows my blog knows that I am transparent. I do not sugar-coat anything as it simply negates the desired outcome for those who really want to change. As I have written before, if you take nothing else from my blog, I pray you will never forget that you are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalms 139:14).
Life is messy...thank God for Bounty paper towels, second chances, Grace and Mercy.
"...the battle is the Lord's" (I Samuel 17:47)