I remember growing up in Pennsylvania going to school, being active in my church youth group, playing baseball and doing all those things that kids do. When I talked with someone and shared my opinion, it was just that – an opinion. If I didn’t get a big spoonful of green beans at the church potluck, it was okay. No one noticed. If I made an error playing baseball, my teammates would encourage me to get the next one.
And then God put me leadership and all of that changed. Every move, every decision, every action or inaction impacts someone.
My opinions now weren’t just my opinions. They were directives or to some – insights into what I really wanted. My attitude in a meeting had to always be positive or it could be taken the wrong way. If I walked by someone’s office and didn’t say “hello,” I risked offending them. And even at the station potluck, I had to make sure I had a sample of everything because they were watching.
Of course, we would go crazy trying to please everyone all the time, but be aware, when you became a leader, you’ve accepted the role of being in the spotlight. Leadership – where our whispers are our shouts. And you are always on.
When you are in leadership the playing field isn’t level. If an employee has a bad day, it’s because they were hurting or some outside factor contributed to why they acted like that. But the leader isn’t afforded that grace. They should “know better than to act like that.”
So how can we as leaders play on this uneven playing field?
ACTION STEPS TO ACTIVATE NOW
- Be aware – Be aware of what you say and how you say it. Know that because of your position, whatever you say or do is one hundred times stronger than you think it is. The position you are in – whether you like it or not – is a position of power and responsibility. You were granted that power when you became a leader.
- Be encouraging – You want people to give you grace. Encourage them – especially when they fail. Use that power of your position to serve, love and build up people. The more you use it that way, the more likely you will get grace from your followers when you mess up.
- Don’t show up until you are ready – The last thing you want to do is come out of a “bad meeting” and then bring that “hangover” into the next meeting. Schedule breaks between meetings so you have time to compose yourself. If you have a closed office, compose yourself in there and come out when are able to lead.
- Apologize – When you mess up, humble yourself and apologize. Don’t wait long to do this. The longer you wait the more damage can be done. Wild fires of gossip can spread quickly in an organization.
- Get away – Really, get away! Unplug yourself. Leadership is hard and our human bodies need rest and recharging. We can’t keep going 24/7. Even Jesus took breaks from people to get recharged. Where do you go to recharge yourself?
Tim McDermott was the President of KSBJ for over 26 years. He is now consulting Christian radio leaders who need a trusted advisor to help grow their stations. In addition, Tim is a CPA and is available to be a station’s Part-Time CFO as well as providing accounting and tax preparation services for non-profits. He can be reached at [email protected].