What kind of emotions or feelings or thoughts come to mind when you think of a leader and their relationship to those who follow them? Anger, disappointment, frustration, satisfaction, pride, or maybe even love?
Leadership is a relationship. It is a human interaction. It is about people who come to work or the task often with a lot on their minds. There are a lot of “moving parts” as the saying goes. Sometimes it is all about the task and other times it is more about the relationship and how you work together. Sometimes it gets all gummed up together.
So what kind of leader do you want to be with all of those intersecting demands like people and relationships and emotions of disappointments, frustrations, but also joys and pride and even love?
Without thinking about it, some leaders err on the side of trying to please everyone. They stress positive attitudes and feelings. They seek to be agreeable and eager to help and don’t want anyone to be frustrated or there to be any controversies that bring drama to the task. Does that work? Not really. It may be good for a country club but not for good leadership.
Others err on the other extreme and dismiss that leadership involves people who work together so they emphasize the task. People then become tools to get the job done. Their leadership can tend to be controlling and demanding and they will communicate just for the sake of the task. Does this work? Maybe for a short time. But it wears thin very quickly - or worse.
Still other leaders are simply afraid to make mistakes. They withdraw and hide in their offices and stare at their computers all day not engaging with the people or even the task very much. Then there are those who are professional compromisers who avoid conflict, soft pedal disagreement and swallow their convictions for progress. Does this work? Perhaps when things are going well or the work is simple. But it is not fulfilling and will rarely be a high achieving team.
Then some leaders bounce around and are unpredictable. They act two faced. Gracious when they need to get someone to get something done or harsh it they are impatient. You could even say they are manipulative. Some leaders seem to always take things personally and fly off the handle and don't seem to be very stable. Does this work. Ah, no.
Then what else is there? What about you? How do you lead? How do you want to lead?
There is another option. It requires maturity. It requires truly caring about, even loving the people you lead and also caring about the common task or mission and vision for your organization. This kind of leader will engage with those they lead. They will participate. When problems arise they will work to get the issues out in the open and work through them. Priorities will be clear. They will work to follow through on what they said and the group said needed to be done. They will be open minded and people will enjoy working with them. They will be dependable in what they do. They will take the high road and urge everyone around them to a greater level of maturity and responsibility and productivity. You will know where you stand with them. There won’t be manipulation but honesty and the rare warnings will be met with following through on the consequences. They will be serious but fair. They will in short be mature, like a loving parent who cuts you some slack when necessary but sets the standard high because they believe in you. Does this work? Absolutely. But it is rare.
What type of leader do you want to be? It’s your choice.
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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, email@example.com or scottgress.com
"Helping leaders be more productive - less controlling"