I’ve been fortunate in many ways to have what some say are natural leadership abilities. I’ve never really tried to be a leader (except for job promotions) but have always seemed to attract the role. I know, I know, some people believe leaders aren’t born but taught. I tend to disagree.
Over the past week I have experienced the very lows and extreme highs that come with leadership. This led me to reflection on human nature, leadership and how I was raised. The simple truth is every human I have ever met has an insecurity. Some are great at hiding it, some not. Some don’t realize they have them, others do. I recognize I have many insecurities. My leadership ability is one of them. Another insecurity I have (which lends to my insecurity about my leadership ability) is with relationships. And frankly I think that is where all of our insecurities stem from.
Without getting “religious” I think this comes from the creation of man. We were created to be in relationship. We want to be accepted. We want to be loved. We want to feel appreciated. We want to be recognized. We want to be connected. We want to belong. In our pursuits of these desires we often try and change our surroundings so we can be accepted and belong when we should have just found a place that we naturally fit.
I tend to believe I am a terrible leader. I’m never really sure if I’m creating success. I’m not sure if my team appreciates what I’m doing. I often wonder if I’m actually doing anything. My Division is having tremendous success, but I wonder if I actually have anything to do with it.
Earlier this week I recieved an anonymous email. The email had a list of grievances the writer had about me. I didn’t read it as these types of things affect me to much. Even knowing it was sent hurt my feelings. I take these kind of things to heart and become heart broken (you can see some of my earlier blogs relating to similar situations). Unfortunately I’m used to this type of negative criticism. I think all leaders get used to the fact that people think they know better. These “helpers” usually think they know us well, and thus their judgements are sound. Leaders often find that the people watching them BELIEVE they know our intentions and judge our decisions on them. They do this without knowing any of the history or facts. Needless to say situations like this don’t boost your morale.
As a leader I feel lost more than I feel in control. The Pearl Jam line, “I’m lost, I’m your guide, but I’m by your side” is something I relate too. I might not know exactly where we are going but I can promise this, as a leader, I’ll be right beside you. The problem with this is though the heart of the message is one of loyalty and commitment, feeling lost doesn’t make me feel secure in my role.
I’m far from perfect. I’m like anyone else I assume. I try my best, put as much time as I can into what I’m doing all while trying to maintain relationships with my wife, kids and obligations. It’s not always easy, and sometimes I fail.
This is where the high came in. As I was driving to one of my local Chamber of Commerce events to interview Scott Banda (CEO of Federated CO-OP) I recieved another email. This one wasn’t anonymous (but will be for this blog’s purposes). I will post it below as I think it’s a great reminder of leadership, human nature and though we are insecure, people are behind us. Those are the people we need to focus on leading well.
So when you’re feeling insecure, remember; everyone is. And more importantly even through the blunders and mistakes, your heart will come through and you’ll find you’re more supported than you think. (so make sure your heart is in the right place) My week started terribly, but because someone took a few minutes to write what was probably the nicest email I have ever recieved I found love, resilience and motivation to keep moving forward.
So who can you write today and encourage? You’d be surprised how much they might need it! You’d probably really be surprised at how little they are encouraged and loved. Here’s the email I received.
So I heard about the email and I felt compelled to say my piece. My first instinct was to create a fake email account and completely make fun of the other email just to make the point that you should pay as much attention to my creepy email as the other one. I don’t know the details of what was written, but my point isn’t to break apart that garbage piece by piece. I just want to let you know what I think of you, because I am betting that it is something that you might need to hear right about now.
I respect you. A lot. You are someone that started out with the same level of respect and trust that I give to everyone I meet. You have not only earned that respect, but I have more respect for you than the average bear.
I see the way you lead others, with humility and encouragement. Rather than tearing someone down for something they could have done better, you encourage them to do better, and often showcase your own past mistakes to make sure they understand that you don’t think that you are better than anyone else, but that you are a guy who has learned and grown from past mistakes, and you are still a work in progress.
I see the way you are with Danielle, and it’s obvious that while you aren’t the PDA type, you guys love and respect each other. You are quick to compliment her and show her your appreciation. We all constantly joke about our lives, kids, and husbands, and the lack of material on Danielle’s end tells me one thing, either you are a good enough husband, so she has no complaints, or she respects you too much to tease you behind your back.
The way you are with your kids is commendable. You are one of the busiest people I know, yet you are also one of the most involved dads that I know. I have had to have my kids at music practice very rarely, and I am a stress case the entire time, but you bring your kids consistently involving them in worship and the things that you are passionate about.
In your recent blog post you talked about family dinners, and I thought it was fantastic. It is so rare to find a church with a true family-like atmosphere. Lawson is that rare place. I am so thankful to have found this church and family. But just like every family, there are a few crazies in the mix that we know better than to pay too much attention to.
Anyway, my point is to encourage you to not let the email get you down, and recognize that the rest of us love and respect you. You are an invaluable member of our family at Lawson.
After reading that how couldn’t I want to keep leading?