A Gathering Voices post by Beth Pyles
If I were to offer my own ‘Top Ten’ on good leadership, coming more from my own failures than successes, they would probably be:
1. Do no harm. It’s axiomatic, but leaving folks worse off than better for the encounter is abuse, not leadership. And the excuse, “this is for your own good” is just that – an excuse for my own failings.
2. Talk less, listen more. I really fail at this one – a lot.
3. Roll up your sleeves. Be willing to do anything that you ask others to do, especially the dirty, footwashing, kind of stuff that no one wants to do but has to be done.
4. Love, love, love. People know when they are not cherished. To fail to love those whom we serve does great harm.
5. Share. To refuse to delegate is to refuse to share – it’s an act of selfishness, not selflessness.
6. Show up. Be present to people. See them – really see them.
7. Admit what you can’t or won’t do. There really are some things I cannot do and some I just will not do. I will not eat shrimp. It’s silly, but it’s true. I won’t eat it to please you. I won’t eat it to be polite. I won’t eat it. And it’s really o.k. to say so.
8. Admit when you’re wrong. We all make mistakes. And people know yours. What they don’t know is whether you know them or not.
9. Name the conflict and deal with it. Conflict avoidance is deadly. Conflict doesn’t go away by ignoring it. We all know this. But, oh, the lengths to which we will go to avoid dealing with it. In 12 Step programs, there’s a slogan: Some are sick, some are sicker than others, and some are as sick as they want to be. To avoid conflict is to be as sick as we want to be.
10. Know when it’s time to go. The hardest thing for me to grasp has been that I am not always the solution to someone’s problem. Years ago I learned the value of letting go. A client had become difficult to work with and we ended up avoiding each other. I gave up, but I didn’t let go, until finally I realized that nothing I did would resolve our situation and so I severed the relationship. Months later, I saw her. She literally ran up to me. I was frightened that she might hit me, but instead, she threw her arms around me and thanked me and let me know how she had been able to move on and resolve the problem. With absolutely no help from me, she was able to do what she needed to do. It’s humbling to realize that I might not have what you need. But it’s important: otherwise, we end up right back at #1, doing harm where we had only the best of intentions.
May the seeds grow, but may my footprints be invisible.