I write two blogs. This one and one for work. This one is called Four4Soaring, as you know, and the one at work is called Friday Food For Thought. I suppose, something about “F” sounds and the word “for” just speak to me. I think it is because I do my best to be ” for” people, “for” my community and “for” my family and friends.
I endeavor to provide both blogs weekly. They are written with the same purpose in mind to encourage, inspire and equip people. They are meant to be “for” people. We have this saying in my church world that is supposed to prove you “get it.” “It” being the whole “Jesus Follower thing” and it is that:
“you are supposed to want something FOR people, not something FROM them.”
That is what I think I am doing, most of the time…
Yesterday, I was kind of riding a high of being “for” people and I really thought I was wonderfully postured to continue down this path of delivering things
this blog and my work one
and the leadership quotes I share on multiple platforms
and leading in my areas of our church where I have been asked to lead and grow other leaders….
…..when I was slammed in the face with the possibility that this work I think I am doing is not meeting its intent!
The short version is that someone shared with me that they were not very impressed with my ability to lead and were not interested in receiving anything from me in this regard. In the ultimate irony (you will only get when you read the blog post I wrote to my work world a couple of days prior below) they said I both failed to empower others and be authentically humble. The post was named (and you just can’t make this stuff up) “Be Real, Be Humble and Empower Others to Get Results.” Now if you don’t believe God has a sense of humor, I can’t help you with that, because that, my friends, is both mildly painful and hilarious!
Then I went to my email this am and I saw a message from someone who I happen to live in more than one area of influence with and it said simply this “Thank you, I really needed this today.” That wasn’t the only such message I received Friday from the Food for Thought, but it had a special meaning to me because I know this person knows me in more than one sphere. It has even more meaning this , after being told how very unhelpful I am sometimes.
To be clear, this person is not some villain and I am not the hero. I screwed up. I did not do a good job with informing or empowering them. I needed to hear that. I may have even needed to hear the other part about not being authentically humble. I can be pretty arrogant sometimes and pride is something I wrestle with. So this person i right on many levels. I am grateful for the feedback, but what if anything do I do to change what I am already doing?
Which is it? Am I a fraud, a charlatan, or worst yet a “sorcerer” trying to influence and cajole people into liking me? Am I really doing all this to inflate my own ego and be liked? Do I want something “from” people or do I want something “for” people? I’m going to keep asking myself that question and I’m going to ask God to help show me the answer.
Until I get the answer I’m going to keep doing what I feel I am called to do. Until I get more clarity, I’m going to keep trying to be the best leader I can be. I’m going to keep trying to help you be the best leader you can be. The harsh reality is I’m going to screw up, and I am going to do it probably every single day!
(two quick examples: 1: I jokingly told someone to ‘die to himself’ that had literally died last year and 2. I called a guy (and his family) by the wrong name, made a big deal about an event I wanted him (wrong him) to go to and didn’t realize I did it until 4am this morning!) Holy foot in mouth Batman!)
So keep the feedback coming folks because I need help to know the real answer and God may use you to tell me. I want more than anything FOR you to soar. I want you to find light, love and laughter. I want you to find keys to being a better leader in every aspect of your life, just as I try to be.
Those are the 4 Ls to live by and soar by and they are coming each week along with the Friday Food for Thought I share at work. Let me know if this is truly valuable to you, but also let me know if and how I can do better.
Love you guys, and thanks for learning and soaring with me, J
Here is the (now hilariously and painfully ironic) Friday Food for Thought my co-worker thanked me for Friday:
Be Real, Be Humble and Empower Others to Get Results
Over the last couple of months I’ve watched a group of teammates form a team and tackle an enterprise HR project utilizing the new model and all its strengths to create a truly impactful product!
One of the most remarkable things I witnessed through my lens as a “grizzled 20 year HR veteran” is that this team leveraged all the Boeing Behaviors along the way, led by an unlikely set of guides: an early career project manager, an external consultant and a brand new team member!
Although the project required a great deal of cross functional collaboration and expertise, there was no “grizzled veteran” at the helm of this ship. Sure, they brought a few of us along for the ride and they empowered their team to get things done, but they are the ones who steered the ship into the harbor, and they did it precisely from areas of strength that, without their courage, could have been some of their most vulnerable weaknesses – they led with trust, curiosity and humility every step of the way.
To be fair, I’m deliberately not calling out the name of the specific team here because this could describe any number of HR teams I have seen over the last several months, and all of these teammates of mine are fast becoming my heroes.
In an environment rife with change, they created an environment of inclusion and trust and they helped each other learn and grow. They respected the value of the differences on the team and leveraged those to deliver results.
So today’s Food for Thought will feature some wisdom and behaviors I’ve witnessed around empowering and delegating and it will feature this “not so hypothetical but representative” team along with one of the best teachers I have ever listened to on this topic : Craig Groeschel. Much of the Food for Thought below will come from Craig, so I shared some references below to give credit where credit is due.
Food for Thought Item 1 : Be Real and Be Humble to Get Results
Let’s start by examining this team I mention and one of the primary reasons I think they succeeded:
They were REAL
They remembered that they didn’t have to know it all to be great leaders! They were themselves. They got to know each other. They took time to build rapport with one another and with new team members. They laughed and joked all along the journey and shared their fears with one another as well as their triumphs.
Why does this make a difference?
People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.
Another reason they were successful was: they were humble and willing to accept that they were the guides not the hero– they assembled a team of subject matter experts and experienced people (aka some of the “grizzled veterans I mentioned) to be the team and bring their best ideas to the table:
Groeschel explains why this is so effective in this way :
We empower people through clarity and trust.
We must be clear on the what and the why, but not the how.
Trust those you empower with the how.
Clarity without trust produces fear and inaction. When you have clarity but no trust, you’re looking over shoulders and causing fear. You hold onto the things others could be doing instead. Fear can paralyze the people you’re trying to lead.
On the other end of the spectrum, trust without clarity produces work without direction. Your team members might be bought in, but they don’t know what to do. They’ll start doing things that might not be important or right. If you want to frustrate someone, give them freedom without direction. Clarity ensures that your team members’ work is aligned with your goals and mission. Your team will know that what they are doing matters. Trust is the necessary net that results in risk-taking.
When your team members have freedom to fail, they have freedom to experiment and don’t have to be perfect.
“Most leaders are trying to figure out the right strategy. The best leaders are obsessed with empowering the right people.”
“You can have control or you can have growth, but you can’t have both.”
“The best way to know if you can trust someone is to just trust them. Craig Groeschel
Item 1 Food for Thought Questions:
- Do we have an ownership problem? If every idea is your idea, your team is simply executing your vision. If they are part of process and bringing their ideas to the table, your team is more likely to embrace it as their own.
- How can you ask more questions and provide fewer answers?
- How can you provide clarity and trust the team to get the right answer even if you think you know that answer before they do?
Food for thought Item 2: Delegate and Empower Others
Sometimes, as leaders, we think there’s no way someone could do the job as well as we can.
Is that a leader’s mindset? No!
A leader says, “Eventually, the right person will do it better than I ever could!”
Most leaders delegate tasks. The best leaders delegate authority. Craig Groeschel
Are there other, real life examples of this we can look to?
One company that does an extraordinary job empowering their employees is Zappos. They tell their employees to provide the absolute best customer service—that’s the clarity. How their employees chase that mission that is up to the employees—that’s the trust. Some Zappos employees have felt so empowered, they:
- Physically went to a competitor’s store to buy out-of-stock shoes for a customer.
- Sent a free pair of shoes overnight to a best man who arrived at a wedding with no dress shoes.
- Sent a customer flowers when they found out her feet were hurting after wearing Zappos shoes.
Does extending clarity and trust mean that your team members won’t make mistakes? Of course not! But it’s better to see aggressive, Boeing-Behavior-driven mistakes than passive, safe ones.
Be a leader who takes risks because you believe in your team enough to trust them with your values.
Item 2 Food for Thought Questions:
- What are some decisions that only you can make?
- Name at least three tasks or decisions you will delegate immediately.
- What are three things you are doing now that you can delegate to someone on your team?
Bringing it all together:
Start with yourself as a leader. Ask yourself the following:
- Do I accept that I am a leader, even if I don’t have a formal title?
- Do I need to motivate better?
- Does my team have the resources it needs?
- Do the team members feel valued? Appreciated?
- Do I really believe I’m the only one who can do things right?
- Am I threatened by (other) good leaders?
- What needs to change in me to better trust my team?
- Is the culture I influence around me empowering and healthy? Does it align to Boeing’s Behaviors and Values? If not, how can I change that?
Lastly, ask yourself : How can I take all the Food for Thought questions shared in this article into next week?
- Into 2019?
What is one thing I can do different starting next week?
I hope you find this valuable, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, and remember, if for any reason you don’t find this helpful…it is all just Food for Thought.
“The strength of your organization is a reflection of who you empower and trust.” Craig Groeschel