Some things we do as leaders are best left unsaid…
Now, we are not talking about sin here. That point of view is what gets so many leaders in trouble. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have accountability in every thing we do and every decision we make. Today, we are talking about methods, plans, and strategies… Or, more honestly, the lack thereof!
I was 15 yrs old and a part of one of the largest youth groups in Mississippi. We had a big Halloween event coming up and in prep, we lowered the lighting truss to the ground to use it elsewhere. The event was a great success. Afterward, we learned a valuable lesson… You should leave the pulley cable for the truss in the ceiling. If you take it all the way out (which we did), you have to get all the way back up to the (30ft in our case) ceiling to get cord back into the pulley!
My youth pastor, being “fiscally responsible”, didn’t want to rent a lift… So, he grabbed a 20 ft ladder. Now let’s do the math. 20 ft + no human I know personally = 30ft. What to do?
Some call it improvising… We call it “ghetto rigging”. My YP grabbed two 5 ft tall tv carts… You know, the ones at school and in the nursery classrooms where you put the TV on top and the VCR on the second shelf (for younger readers, here’s the Wikipedia on “VCR“). He put the latter on top of those, then pointed at a 6ft tall boy who would have to brave the latter climb all the way to the “this is not a step” top step to reach the pulley…
You guessed right… I was that boy. After wetting on myself while 25 ft up in the air, we achieved success and had a story to tell… But not everyone. As you can imagine, I didn’t tell my mom that story. Some things, though effective enough, should be left unsaid. If you like video games, it is important that you that have all the right equipment for example the best gaming headset under 100.
That’s a goofy example, but here is a Biblical one:
Now, it sounds like no one told the blind man that this miracle mud came from spit… Not that it would have mattered much to him, but some things are just better left unsaid. And even if he did know it was spit, he knew what we were talking about here apparently and didn’t divulge ALL the details. As leaders (this applies to both business leaders and Church leaders), some of our greatest wins come out of our most chaotic moments where all our plans fall apart and we make quick, knee-jerk decisions before we really get to assess and think about the situation. Now, this is obviously no way to lead on a consistent basis, but it’s inevitable that any organizations that involve human beings will have these moments.
Often after these kinds of successes, we take a deep breath and then blurt out everything that did or could have gone wrong and how it’s a miracle that things worked. Sounds good, right? Almost humble really…
But, the REAL humble road almost never makes you LOOK humble. The humble person isn’t concerned with looking humble, but with always putting others first (Check out my video blog posts on humility). So how does that apply here?
Say the underdog wins the World Series… The fans go nuts, the team dog piles on the field, and the coach steps up to the mic. He begins, “I want to thank everyone for all of their hard work. Everyone thought we couldn’t win… I even thought that for a minute there, I mean, jeez… Jim missed 4 grounders, we couldn’t strike out anyone, and our asst coaches… Well, let’s not even go there… But, by the grace of God the other team had a worse night and we pulled off a win!”…
It’s a dramatic example, but see how it takes the wind out of the sails? So what do you do when your chaos and “ghetto rigging” produce a win? You celebrate! Celebrate the win. Celebrate the people who carried out the original plan perfectly (those you were cussing out in your head because they wouldn’t go with the flow when you tried to audible). Celebrate those who were willing to shift and be flexible (sometimes they didn’t even remember the plan anyways) and celebrate those who stuck with you (even if they did drop the ball… what’s in the parentheses should NOT be said to them by the way).
Then you take good notes and save them until your next game plan is made… They have already celebrated their victory and are beginning to think about their next chance to win. That’s the perfect opportunity to address the breakdowns and chaos in the last plan. Be specific. If there is something that will embarrass someone or take a long time to talk through with someone, meet with them privately before the meeting. This allows you to fix what needs to be fixed and only address the issue to the whole team briefly enough that they know you aren’t purposely ignoring that person’s mistakes (there’s nothing more annoying then someone getting on to you and then consistently ignoring someone else on the team’s failures).
Save these stories for future messages, leadership talks, coaching opportunities, or for a book or blog post. For now, ignore the chaos, celebrate the win, and pretend like this is exactly what your team planned on happening. It won’t make you LOOK more humble, but it will make your team look like, feel like, and (if you follow through with your notes appropriately) become superstars…. and that’s what being a leader is really all about.
(Photo courtesy of RebeccaBarray.com)