Leadership Tips from Relationship Tricks

As I was going about my business today, I had a lightbulb moment. Is it possible to transfer tricks and lessons  learned from a relationship into leadership principles? Now, I don’t intend “tricks” to mean little ways that I’ve found to manipulate my relationship with my girlfriend. I intend them to refer to realizations in a relationship that mutual benefit and mature the relationship (eg. “Oh, its not about me!”). So with that said, here are my thoughts:

1. If you are wrong, you need to say I’m sorry.

When I was growing up, the absolute one thing that I remember my older brother teaching me was that you need to take responsibility for your actions.There’s no other way to say it. As a leader, if you are in the wrong, then you’re wrong! Don’t try to side step the issue, blame those around you, pretend it didn’t happen, or make excuses. When a leader refuses to see what others are saying and refuses to see the evidence, I think this stinks of pride and arrogance. When a leader makes excuses or  pretends to know what he is doing, I think this reaks of low self-confidence. As the great theologian Russel Peters remarked once, “Be a (wo)man…do the right thing!”

2. Stop trying to be understood and start trying to understand. 

One of the important lessons that I’ve had to learn in my relationship is that while I do need to share my feelings and thought, my job is not to necessarily convince her of my arguments nor to help her see “the light” of my side (which I will confess I have prayed sometimes!). My job is to understand where she is coming from, both cognitively and emotionally. It doesn’t mean that I need to agree with her, but it does mean that I need to validate and value her by understanding her. When this is done, we are both so much more receptive to each other. For us, the issues isn’t always the correctness of the argument, but being sure that we’re understood and validated by the other person.

What if leadership is the same way? When whom we are leading bring up an idea, do we shoot it down? Do we try to convince them of why we should stick to our own, original idea (ie. help them see the light)? We don’t necessarily need to agree with or implement every new proposal or idea that comes across to us BUT, if we want those that we are leading to be valued and to feel valued, we have got to seek to understand them. Why did they bring up this new idea? What is the heart-reason behind it?

3. Its not about you.

How hard of a lesson is this to learn in a relationship? Stemming from the previous point, this really goes against  our culture of me-ism, where the mentality is to “have it your way, break me off a piece of that kit-kat bar, this bud’s for you, two for me none for you, open happiness”? While its easy to go into a relationship acknowledging that “I need to think of the other person,” it is very hard to harness everything about us under that mantra.

As leaders, it can get very easy to feel like its all about us. People cater to us, we get to “boss” people around and we get to lead others (which can be a big ego boost, no matter what anyone says!). However, let me encourage you, if you are in a position of leadership or are going to be in one, that our mentality as leaders should be this: Serve them.

Serve them. Its not about you, its about others. Serve them. When everything is going well and the praise and glory is flowing in, give credit where credit is due by directing it to those who work for you. Serve them. When everything is going to hell and criticisms and blame are crashing in, protect your team by standing up and taking responsibility. Serve them. 

If as leaders, we don’t learn to serve others, others will not want to serve under us. And, according to one definition of leadership…. we are only leaders if people are following us.

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