Last week we explored what might be getting in the way of you growing as a leader for 2017. Then we listed a false assumption that you may be thinking that you weren’t born to be a leader. The truth is that there are plenty of ways you are probably exercising your leadership whether it is taking on responsibility, recruiting others, encouraging others and so on.
This week I’d like to explore your growth as a leader. Are you reacting or are you reflecting? That makes a huge difference in whether you grow as a leader or not. Reactivity happens without much thinking. It can happen when someone presses your buttons and you stomp off, hang your head, throw up your hands, fly off the handle, blame others, curse, cry or something else. (Do any of those behaviors sound familiar?) They don’t work. They may in the short term but for long term transformation they are losers.
Reactivity will also send a message that you don’t want to send. For example it might say, he or she has a short fuse, is no fun to be around, can’t work under pressure, doesn’t play well with others and any number of other thoughts and conclusions. Rightly or wrongly, every word and behavior we exhibit is an advertisement for who we are and what we are like to work with. As leaders we want to send better signals. It goes without saying that as Christian leaders we will want to demonstrate Christian behavior, even when we are frustrated, stressed and bitterly disappointed with others. So what’s the alternative?
Reflection. A leader doesn’t react, he or she reflects. Looking at oneself with a critical eye and reflecting and learning is a valuable and indispensable leadership behavior. When I was a teenager I had a friend help me with my temper. He was probably quoting one of his parents when he told me, “count to ten.” It was good advice. Yet it cannot end there. One can’t just swallow their reactivity. The growth step is to reflect. That means asking yourself questions. What just happened? How and why did it affect me that way? What is the wisest way to respond? What will I do in the future? How can I hold myself accountable?
Not easy but crucial for leadership growth. In fact it is probably something for which you need to recruit a partner. Do you have a person with whom you can thoughtfully reflect? A mentor, a superior, a colleague, perhaps even a leadership coach? Don’t you dare say your spouse. Sure, spouses can help one reflect and are so very valuable for often giving us the hard truth that we need to hear. But give your spouse a break from having to be your counselor, friend, etc. Recruit a personal board of directors, a mentor or a coach with whom you can be honest, confess your leadership sins and guide you in your reflections.
As the saying goes, “while who I am today is not the person I want to be tomorrow, it is okay to be who I am today.” So give yourself a break from being so hard on yourself. But don’t let yourself off the hook either! Reflect and grow rather than react and watch things die.
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Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com
"Helping leaders be more productive - less controlling"