Being a leader is challenging—I think few would dispute that. Along the journey, all leaders will experience many great successes and failures; you can’t have one without the other.
As someone who’s had the privilege of watching many leaders grow over time, it’s been helpful to think through the support process.
Whenever I’ve had somebody working under me struggle or fail as a leader, I like to walk them through what might have gone wrong along the way. I might sit down with them and say, “Let’s talk about how I can help you succeed better.”
That might look like putting a new system around the individual to help him or her work more efficiently. It might look like giving the person more support. The solutions are likely to vary from person to person.
Having these conversations is important because most of the time, when new leaders fail early on, it’s not because they aren’t going to be great leaders one day. Most of the time, if you see potential in a person, there are other external factors that can be adjusted to help him or her succeed. I’d always say that when in doubt, you blame the system, not the person.
So, there are two ways I’ve found to be the most effective methods of leading. The first is engaging those I lead. The second is directing those I lead to engage with other resources.
At the moment, I’m gearing up some of these where I currently serve, hiring some staff to free up more time for leadership development. But, let me share my past practice and my future plan.
For starters, to engage those I lead would be to establish some sort of ongoing connection between the two of us. This could look like a weekly meeting. The general principle is that it’s better to get this on the calendar early on so there are no hard feelings later on if the leader begins to struggle and needs more assistance.
There’s an old expression in leadership: people do what you inspect, not what you expect. In my own current work environment at Wheaton College, there are dozens of employees and we’re all part of a multi-million dollar operation. In order to keep track of all this, my boss has me fill out reports to keep her in the loop with what I am doing with my time. We’ll either touch base by phone or in person at least twice a month. This kind of structure helps leaders grow and experience mentorship without feeling over-supervised or cloistered.
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Source: Christianity Today