BECOMING MORE CONNECTED
We live in community – any plan we make for our lives must necessarily involve others. Part of the challenge we face in this is how we can become better connected with those around us. As ever, it starts with the right questions: What is my value system? How well do I value those around me? How well connected am I to my community and its needs? Am I the servant of my fellows? The purpose of your work is all about the relationships between you, your team and the context in which you find yourselves. For you to work with people successfully to execute your plan, you will need to obtain their willing support, confidence, loyalty, trust and respect.
Caring for others is a natural consequence of servant leadership. Compassion, kindness, sensitivity and loyalty all form part of this process. Nonetheless, it is important not to shield people from difficulty, even if we wish to protect those for whom we care. While we can provide a buffer for a short period of time to make challenging circumstances easier to deal with, we must also make sure that we allow people to develop the character, competencies, and confidence to take on adversity. In short, caring for others does not mean being patronising. At the same time, we must also ensure that in balancing the competing needs of the task and the group, and the individuals in the group, we do not allow group and task needs to overwhelm the needs of individuals. This does not mean that we should tend to each of these needs equally at all times. Sometimes, we just need to get the job done, while on other occasions we need to build the group. Both of these situations can mean that the needs of individuals can be put to one side – but only temporarily. It is important that we do not become hardened by the pressure of achieving our tasks, and that we come back to look after the needs of team members on a regular basis.
Trust comes from relationships based on respect, loyalty and honesty. Trust is a reflection of the value which people place in each other. Performance is highest in an atmosphere of high trust, respect and mutual accountability. We must give trust before we can expect to receive trust. We must also be prepared to be disappointed when people do not make the best use of our trust. Sometimes it takes time to build trust. We must be prepared to invest trust in our team and its members. We may not make an immediate return on this investment, but the greater the trust we show, the more effective the team will become in the long run. Positive reinforcement and encouragement go a long way towards building trust, but so does honesty. False praise does not build resilience and confidence in the long run; people would rather know that that we trust in their character and potential, and that they have our genuine support in improving their performance and solving their problems.
Perhaps the best way to be credible and win the trust of your team is for us to act in accordance with our own principles and values. If we handle situations the way we think is right according to what we believe in and the things we think need to be done, then most times we will end up with a solution that has integrity. On the other hand, it also means that we do have to be prepared to explain our goals and the way we are trying to achieve them. We also have to be prepared to justify why the choices we have made are good choices, especially by revealing the information that we have at our disposal. We should be prepared to state up-front what we and our team are likely to gain from this and the dangers or problems which we are likely to face.
When we see a mistake, we help others to learn from this as opposed to punishing the error. We help others to feel comfortable with, and eventually part of the vision for the future. We can’t be afraid of unpopularity and we need to actively challenge the status quo. And we need to be prepared to adjust the levels of involvement and autonomy of others. Sometimes we encourage greater participation; sometimes, we will do this by being more directive and firm. In different circumstances, we use different approaches. What we do in one situation might be completely different from the way other people might handle it. Developing our own leadership style involves learning about the theory of leading people; using different approaches for different situations; reflecting on our own ethics, beliefs and personal values; understanding motivation, integrity, courage, compassion, humility and effective communication; and, above all, leadership by example.
This gives what we are doing an openness and transparency that makes us and our team personally accountable for what we are doing. This means that what we do is more likely to be authentic. It doesn’t mean that everything we do has to be popular or successful. In the end, other people will judge us by our behaviour, especially our most recent behaviour. If we can combine our best with our most recent and if we behave well, we will earn high respect from others and we will feel higher levels of self-respect. Our plans will fall into place and the milestones on The Pathway To Excellence will pass by as we would want.
LOCATING OUR PLANNING IN OUR LIVES
In the end, we believe that everyone can work and contribute more successfully through:
- Identifying and understanding the consistency of their self-regulation – how well you take responsibility for and follow through with organising yourself and your life
- Adopting an effective approach towards your goal setting – how you create meaningful plans to define what you want to achieve in your life
- Working through improving your skills in project management – how you make specific choices to construct plans and achieve your goals in a timely and resource-effective fashion
- Locating their success through the judicious exercise of their evaluation and assessment skills – how use both evidence and intuition to make sound judgments about the degree of success you are having in accomplishing your plans