Last week I had the opportunity to take a vacation to Washington D.C. It was an incredible trip, and we were able to see so much.
One of the most striking things was probably the most unexpected. As we arrived at the airport, we stopped before going through security to grab a donut. Looking out the window, I noticed two fire trucks pull up not far from the terminals where we were going.
Now, just in case you’re not sure, when I get to an airport, I turn into a 7 year old boy when it comes to fascination with airplanes. I’ve always loved planes. So, I was naturally extremely curious as to what was going on.
There was no rush to the movements of the fire trucks. They were parked, waiting. No lights, no hustle and bustle.
Then, a plane started to pull up to the terminal, and the fire trucks sprung into action, spraying the plane with water. At first I couldn’t tell if there was purpose or not to their actions. And honestly, until later, I still wasn’t sure what I had just witnessed.
Leadership can be the same way a lot of the times. The things we see others do may not make sense from where we sit, but most people have a reason for the decisions they make.
We, as leaders, need to understand people are working with information we may never receive. So critical spirits, when we know nothing of the circumstances, are not beneficial.
Likewise, there are going to be things we do that people will not understand our actions or motivations. Sometimes out of necessity (because we can’t share) and sometimes out if neglect (because we failed to share).
If you’re in a position where you are training leaders, be willing to share what you can to help them know what’s going on and what went into a decision.
As for what was happening, more on that Thursday. Click here to subscribe to the emails so you don’t miss it.
Short post today, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mistakes and mishaps. I blog on this regularly, partly because it’s a fear of mine.
I fear mistakes. I fear a mistake means I’m not good enough. I fear a mistake means I’m not valuable.
Ultimately, I don’t fear failure. I fear surrendering to failure. Until I learn to reframe my fear, I will never be able to grow.
Great leaders know failure is part of life. So take that step today. Have that conversation that may not go your way. Learn from it and grow.
I read a really good post from Carey Nieuwhof at the end of last week on 12 books every leader must read. Feel free to click over and check it out.
I thought today I’d share a few books I’m reading through at the moment.
I’ve written about this before, but I tend to have book ADD. I have a difficult time sticking with a book once I start, but it’s a discipline I’m working to develop.
So, what about you? What books are you reading? I’d love to hear, so comment below!
On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of shared definitions. (Click here if you missed it.
So, what’s the benefit of a shared definition?
I played basketball in high school. One year our coach drew up a play we called “Oklahoma”, and the play would end in a lob pass to the basket. The play itself was a pretty big leap for our collective ability, but that didn’t diminish the excitement.
Then, in a game, he called the play. I quickly ran through the mental motions and realized I would be on the receiving end of the lob pass at the basket–my chance for a Sportscenter top 10 highlight play.
One problem–not everyone knew the play. Not to throw someone under the bus, but the other post botched the execution which in turn eliminated any possibility of my going on to play basketball professionally. There was no lob. There was no highlight. There was no cohesion.
When we share definitions, we get on the same page as those around us, and they get on the same page as us. When we agree that we all start from point x, and we all move to point y, then we move as a unit.
Shared definitions lead to unity.
Shared definitions lead to increased impact.
Shared definitions lead to greater influence.
As a leader, our job is to navigate the waters of multiple priorities, trying to provide a clear direction for those we lead.
What situations are you facing that would benefit from a shared definition, a common goal? What arena of poor communication is preventing your influence from growing more and more? Are you willing to make the necessary changes? What’s the first one? What are you waiting for?
One of the things that fascinates me is listening to people talk about small towns. In Texas, we have our fair share of small towns. But here’s the tricky thing: not everyone shares the definition of a “small town.”
Don’t believe me, try it. If I were to walk up to people in my current town of 23,000 and ask if they think we are living in a small town, I think many would say yes.
If you ask me, my answer would be different. This is actually the second largest town I’ve ever lived in, and I grew up in a town of 500. And no, that’s not a typo–there are only two zeroes after that five.
So, which is right? Is 500 a small town, or is 23,000 a small town? Can they both be small towns? At 500 are you supposed to change it from town to village? Is 23,000 a small city? Is it a large town?
Here lies one of the biggest struggles I see in leadership time and again – a lack of shared definitions. We get in a room with a group of people and start talking about a subject, presuming agreement on basic terms, and realize (or sometimes don’t) we are talking apples and oranges.
Have you ever asked a group of people what “deep” means? Chances are in a group of five people, you’ll get six different answers (how’s that for deep?).
Or, how about the way you express emotions. I would say I’m more reserved and intense, but to some people that comes across as detached and angry. I have had times where I thought I was having a wonderful discussion with someone only to find out later our relationship was negatively affected because of our lack of shared definitions.
Learning to navigate the tricky waters of varied definitions provides a very difficult challenge for leadership. But until we get people on the same page, you will find very often the battles you face find their roots in this principle.
What struggles or battles are you facing because of a lack of shared definitions? What adjustments can you make to get on the same page moving forward? Are you willing to do it?
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