Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Steven Covey tells the story of a leadership development cruise he had with a number of managers and leaders of various businesses. All of these people were accountable for many employees.
He observed that during the breaks most of these executives were on their phones in communication with their offices. His question to them was this: What kind of leadership and training have you provided for these employees that makes you unable to get away from the office without having to be in touch with them?
The essence of what he was saying is that many managers have their people so dependent on them for answers that these people cannot effectively function without their input.
This should not be. One of the main reasons why this condition exists and persists is that it gives the manager a lot of personal gratification and with it the assumption that he is indispensable. Many people will say they know they are not indispensable, but they try to create conditions that make them feel indispensable.
Others like the feeling of being in control. I have often heard managers or leaders brag about the fact that nothing ever happens in their office without them. That kind of statement does not say much for the organization. It is bad for any organization when its employees or members cannot function properly unless the manager or boss is around.
There is a definite deficiency in training there and the blame for that is squarely on the shoulders of the boss and not the employees.
A supervisor, leader, or manager that focuses on solving people’s problems is not really developing his people. He is making them dependent on him. They might sing his praises, because he solves their problems; but is that the best use of his time or the employees’ time? Switch the example to your children and you see the fallacy of that. Do you solve all your children’s problems for them? What would happen if all you did was work out your children’s problems for them?
The simple answer is that they would not develop effective problem solving skills. I know adults who are like that because parents or family members have never allowed them to develop good problem solving skills. Every time something went wrong they would provide the solution rather than allowing their adult child to work out their own solution.
Likewise a good manager or leader will help people become better at solving their problems rather than solving their problems for them. Our greatest challenge when working with people is not to get them to work better together, although that is a worthy ideal. Neither is it to get them to produce more as desirable as this might be.
Our greatest challenge is to make them better, to develop people who can develop other people. It is said that a person who works better around people is a follower. A person who helps people work better is a manager. The person who develops better people to work is a leader.
I know someone in the Berkeley County School system who is that kind of leader. He focuses not just on helping the student to master the task but he helps them to work on mastering themselves. It’s more than excelling in a subject, it is about excelling in life.
Whether you are a teenager in school, a young adult in college or someone in the world of work, the fact is true success is more than excelling at a thing, whatever that thing may be. True success is excelling at the business of life, and that can only happen when there is growth, not just in selected things you do, but in you the person.
The Rev. Dr. Valentine Williams is a pastor and inspirational speaker. He also conducts seminars and workshops related to Christian growth and development and is an avid student of Apologetics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.