I have often found myself in positions of leadership throughout my entire life. Truthfully, most times I have found myself as a leader before I had even formalized in my mind what my leadership style would be, what my plan was, how I was going to accomplish goals or even just what the heck am I doing here!? Sometimes positions opened up because someone quit abruptly. Sometimes it was because I was a "victim" of "hey Eric, you seem to be good at this...why don't we make you the lead in doing _________ (fill in the blank)". I particularly love this circumstance because I think most of you can relate to that feeling. In the world of music it seems like a lot of staff musicians at places are the 'catch all cats'. Meaning, just because you can play guitar you must be well equipped to run a sound board too, right?
I tell people all the time my new phrase for 2017. (Actually I have several new phrases I'm going to use for 2017 but this is one I composed all by myself and I'm particularly crazy about it). I now tell folks that just because I use electricity doesn't mean I'm an electrician. While I'm all for expanding one's horizons, I want to make clear to people I have an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. If you want a 'jack of all trades' you're going to yield that level of expertise. When I go to a dentist I don't want some general knowledge guy with a pitchfork in my mouth vaping on a pipe when I'm reclined in an easy chair in his basement. I want to see what I'm going to get. I want to feel like I'm getting what I'm paying for. I want my visual to match my expectations to be in concert with the results.
Most times, You Get What You See
Why am I mentioning this? What does this have to do with leadership? EVERYTHING.
I found out rather quickly no one cared about my leadership goals, objectives, plans, initiatives or changes more than they cared about WHAT THEY SAW. They wanted to SEE me handle conflict. They needed to see me deal with change. Your team needs to see you experience success, failure and everything in-between. That will show your team how to respond when adversity comes their way.
I serve as Minister of Music at St John Baptist Church in Columbia. This past Sunday I had to do all 3 services on Sunday morning and I was super sick or at least not well. I almost had to pull over on the drive to church. On top of that I found out the song the choir rehearsed all week before we can't do because the soloist was sick. I had to walk into church at 730a alert, with a new plan for a new song, ready to go serve at 8a sharp. All I really wanted to do was get off the bathroom floor.
Has this ever happened to you, leader? Ever find yourself preferring to roll on the floor because it's nice and cool against your clammy sweaty face but instead you have to lead people into battle?
As leadership we have a choice. We can go the "Woe is Me/Nobody Knows de Trubble I seen" route of making sure everyone knows how sick you are, everyone feels sorry for you, you have a built in excuse to fail, perhaps Sister Hanky will make you some soup and send you home from work, yada yada yada...you get my point...
You can make sure your team gets what they see: they see a leader that can be successful even when that leader is not at their best. They see a leader execute a plan even when they don't feel 100%. They see leadership ensure the focus remains on the mission and not on them.
It's your choice. Make one.
I would humbly submit to you it is paramount in any leadership position to model overcoming adversity. Again, it's not a question of IF adversity is coming but rather what is your response WHEN adversity comes. Even Batman's father told him in that movie "why do we fall down Bruce? So we can learn how to get up again". Your people deserve the best. I'm assuming that's why you decided to lead them in the first place! Therefore, lead them well. Lead them with respect. Lead them with dignity.
Most of all make sure you MODEL for them what commitment to the mission looks like. For after all...
usually You Get What You See.
Your people see commitment, they become committed people.
Your people see success, they become more successful people.
Your people see determination, they become more determined people.