The unthinkable happened in the middle of the current summer heat wave – our air conditioner stopped working. Since I live in a section of Southern California where summer temperatures are routinely over 100 degrees, this was a significant issue. Whether spawned from my frugality or hands-on approach to solving problems, I began troubleshooting the issue. I started by replacing the capacitor, but that wasn’t the issue. Then I replaced the blower motor, wrong again. Finally, I replaced the control board, and cool air flowed throughout the house.
Resolving my air conditioner malfunction highlights my desire to “do” things. I find immense satisfaction when a project, regardless of size, is complete. That’s how most of us start our careers – as doers. Entering the workforce, we are given tasks and learn to complete them with increasing skill and efficiency. Those successful in “doing” typically find that it leads to more tasks, eventually creating opportunities to lead others in doing assignments.
Leading by Example
My corporate and full-time ministry careers followed the abovementioned pattern, helped develop my leadership skills, and reflected my personality. First, I learn all aspects of my role by doing and finding ways to be efficient. Once I have mastery over the position, I document everything and train others by teaching others what I know. In this way, I can lead by example. I’m in the trenches with them, creating a camaraderie. My experiences of leading by example have shown me two things:
- It works great with competent, motivated employees or volunteers.
- It has the potential to set an unrealistic pace of working harder and longer hours, often perpetuated by the people you lead.
Leading people is so much more than just knowing how to do their job and helping them accomplish their tasks accurately and timely. Even for those with natural abilities, leadership is a skill that requires development in order to add value to the organization and the people you lead.
Leaders Add Value
Early in my career in the corporate world, my supervisor came to me after she overheard a comment I made in the break room. Her advice rings in my ear even after all these years. She said, “Do you know how to spot a leader? It’s the one people are following, and people are following your lead, be thoughtful in what you say to them.” From that point forward, I realized a good leader adds value to both the employee and the organization.
- To the Employees: Leaders listen to employees and know their dreams and desires. Leaders find ways to help employees get there – even if it means losing them. Leaders inspire their employees. Leaders support and value their employees. Leaders reinforce the employee’s role in accomplishing the organization’s mission and vision. Leaders publicly give their employees all the credit for successes and take the hit when things don’t work out.
- To the Organization: Leaders think strategically. Leaders champion the organization’s mission and vision. Leaders maintain a positive outlook and show the path forward. Leaders are in a constant state of improvement.
Leaders: Do Less – Lead More
The world needs doers; it’s how things get done. Someone needs to mow the lawn, vacuum the carpet, balance the books, teach children, cook food, adjust the sound, welcome people, fix the air conditioner, and the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with “doing.” But for those called to leadership, Romans 12:8 says, “… If leading, then be eager to get started.” Use your leadership gift, which may mean “doing” less so you can lead more. As a leader, look at your “to-do” list and consider delegating anything regarded as “doing” to those you lead. Then, task those who just received your tasks to do the same with their list. It’s one for leaders to “do” less and lead more. Ironically, leading is actually doing more – but you get the idea.short url: