When it comes to leadership, I have discovered that the individuals whom are placed – whether of their own accord, or not – under your direction, at the end of it, could care less about your qualifications, or experience, when it comes to leadership. Don’t get me wrong, that matters, because they do judge you based off of your qualifications, and experience – that is the initial test. If you happen to fail this test, then this is what they will base all future failures and mistakes that you make off of. You are essentially, already doomed. However, I am speaking to the “qualified” and “experienced” leaders, such as myself. It is a tough world out there… Leading.
I have the distinguished misfortune of leading (now) two programs at church, and I am a supervisor at work. Yesterday at my VA appointment, then today at the kids’ doctor appointment, I was asked, verbatim, by three different individuals, “Supervisor? Does anyone even take you seriously?” That struck a nerve. At work, yes, they take me, the Angel of Death seriously. Heaven forbid I ever need disciplinary action, or have to get fired, I will have to do it myself. Even the corporate, director of HR, needed my assistance in dealing with an employee right before I went on vacation.
I’ll tell you, I have learned something: Being a leader in the Army, is different than being a leader in the civilian workplace, which is different than being a leader in the church. I am still figuring it out. I am so grateful for my much needed vacation. I very much needed that time off, and away to think – recharge… I all but wanted to quit life! This vacation has given me the opportunity to take a step back and assess my leadership style(s) in various settings, and capabilities.
An overarching skill that I must possess as a leader, is an openness about me. Meaning, those that I lead, to follow me, fully, must know my heart. I, for one, will not follow a leader, unless I know his/her heart fully. That is the only way that I know the genuineness that they possess, or lack there of. I will not follow a person that I do not see as genuine. The great divide that I seem to face with people – especially those in the “church” is that they do not know what is in my heart, and are assuming evil intent with me. In any case, in my leadership, I am not out for my glory. I don’t do anything for acknowledgement or recognition. That is not who I am. That has never been me. I live to serve God, my family, the church, others… My prayer is always: Lord, let me decrease, so that You might increase. I know that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” For so long, I didn’t know what I had to offer the Lord, yet, as I tap into all of the talents the Lord has given me, I am offering them in service to Him. Not for my glory, but His. In all that I do, He receives the glory.
As a leader, I need those under my direction to understand this about me. Never will I place myself on a pedestal built on their labors. Never will I climb to the top by trampling on their backs, and shoulders, and yards work. I understand hard work. I will work in the trenches with you. I will cry, pray, fast, weep, with you. When you hurt, I hurt. Empathy. I have a penchant for empathy. No one knows when I hurt. I wear my pain on the inside, with a smile painted on my face. I smile in the midst of my trials, tribulations, heartache, and pain. No, life ain’t perfect! No, it doesn’t feel good! Yes, you all tell me that I look like I have it all together – I don’t. I hurt. I’m human. I have few friends. I get lonely. It’s lonely at the top. There are so few people for me to call when I’m going through tough times. But the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…
My pastor’s wife has a neat questionnaire thing that she gives to the team captains that are directly under her. It’s about her. A way to answer, then discuss, so that you “know her heart” as a leader. I am thinking of adopting a similar practice. As the struggle is so real right now, and I hate my team… Yeah, I said it… Hate is a strong word. I really don’t like them! And, that is the only place I am struggling as a leader. I can terminate someone, and they come back later and say, “I’m sorry you had to do that.”