Reliability. I’ll bet that when you hear that word, the first thing that will pop into your mind is a product of some sort. It is either a car or an appliance that we generally associate with the word reliability. What about people, do we consider them reliable? We might use dependable but reliable? People will let us down and are flawed from conception; I’ve even heard others quip that “you can depend on people to let you down.” The difference is very subtle, being reliable means that you will be able to get the same result over and over and dependable means worthy of reliance or trust. How reliable are you? Do people seek you out for help or advice? If you are in a leadership position, you need to be both reliable and dependable. Being reliable can take a toll on your time management. You will find that when people seek you out for help, you spend a lot of time with them and your own “work” takes second place yet it still needs to get done.
When people seek you out, you are actually functioning as a coach for them. Good coaching can turn into mentorship, which is a great professional development tool for both parties not mention a huge source of personal satisfaction. Whom do you rely on? Do you have someone reliable in your work life? We are sometimes too proud to ask for someone to help us or give us advice. Finding someone who is reliable enough to be a coach is rare; be sure that they are willing to help at this level. If you are fortunate enough to be someone whom people consider reliable, consider sharing your gifts with them at this higher level.
“And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Acts 2:21
It’s ironic that when I hear the words reliable and dependable, I don’t immediately think of the Triune God. As I reflect on it, I have to assume that it’s because I never have to think twice about God’s reliability and just writing that, makes me smile. There are millions of people in this world that don’t see it that way. They will base their assessment of God’s reliability on the number of answered prayers they receive, the quality of their life or the types of works they perform – trying to gain God’s favor, so that He’ll be more reliable and dependable. Our LORD and Savior is Jesus Christ, He intervened on our behalf to gain God’s favor.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be Saved” (Acts 2:21) means eternal life for everyone calling, no strings attached. God is reliable and dependable. He keeps His promises to His people; we just have a hard time seeing them because His time and our time are not the same. God always listens and comforts us; we simply don’t always recognize it. It’s the unexpected coffee that a co-worker brings to you when you need it or the refund check that arrives the week that your rent is due. Turning your life over to God and trusting in Him means that you never have to think twice about whether He’s reliable or not. After all, He did send His one and only Son to suffer for us so that we can share eternal life Him. It certainly sounds like He’s in it for the long haul, how about you?
Mentoring, coaching, succession planning and employee development are the latest challenges for today’s organizations. The baby boomers are leaving the workforce, new managers need additional skills to lead the Millennial Generation and Millennials have workplace needs like no other generation before them. Leaders have a responsibility to develop their staff regardless of what the retirement picture looks like in their organization. A number of years ago, I was tasked with developing a program to build “management perspective” for our staff. We had several young supervisors and several more to promote. We created a series of supervisory programs that exposed these young leaders to a variety of “business” and leadership topics.
A mentoring program was created which allowed employees to function in supervisory positions under the guidance of their existing supervisor then on their own. These employees endured 120 hours of classroom training and countless hours of field training from the time they started the program until they completed their probationary year as supervisors. The bottom line is that with or without a formal program, leaders have an obligation to develop people to achieve all that they are capable of.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
As Disciples of Christ, more than the word of God is mentoring us in our lives. The trials and tribulations of this life are making us stronger for what lies ahead in eternity. Our troubles are momentary but they sometimes seem to pile up. It’s not what is happening to us that matters, it is how we react to it that counts. St. Paul is telling the Corinthians and us, that our troubles are light and momentary.
For those that believe in Christ, we know that no matter what is happening, we will have eternal life in Heaven. We all struggle with the concept of “momentary” as if we are applying it to our understanding of time. A moment to God could be years for us. Open the bible and find peace for what the troubles that are burdening you. Stop looking for the meaning in “why” and start looking at how you can react, with God at your side, to the troubles you are facing. Giving up your control and letting God work in your life is very hard. We have been promised eternal life through Jesus Christ; not an easy life here on earth. Celebrate the gift and live to His glory – the glass is half full.
I figured that I needed to get back to focusing on leadership for a few posts. Last week, I touched on personal leadership and being a leader even when you never intended to be. As the formal leader at work, do people know how and where to find you? Do they refer to you as approachable and accessible? Many people in “leadership” positions have an open door policy but their door is often found closed or worse yet; the door is open but the mind is closed. There is an old management theory called the “Seagull Theory of Management”. It is when the leader flies in, leaves droppings everywhere and then flies out. I hope that this doesn’t describe you or at least not how your people do.
There are a lot distractions in today’s working environment: e-mail, cell phones, instant messaging and last minute demands. We work in what I call the microwave world – everything is ready in less than two minutes. Leaders need to take a few minutes to examine how these distractions are affecting their relationships with the people who count on them. The main purpose of leadership, as opposed to management, is to motivate and encourage others toward a common goal. In order to achieve this, we must spend time with our people, find out what their needs are and provide them a vision that they can see. We can’t do any of this if we aren’t accessible.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
God knows we are easily distracted; look how long it took for Eve to get distracted/tempted from the one rule they had “Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden”? God set in our minds and hearts that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. This isn’t a “microwave” solution: fast and when we want it. The lesson here is that we need to become immersed in God’s word, seek him with all of our heart; not just a minute or two and only when we need Him.
Spend time with God, everyday. If you are like everyone who receives e-mails, you’ll read 15 minutes of “funny” e-mails, check the stories on CNN.com or spend an hour looking at the feed on Facebook or Twitter. Are you devoting that much time to seeking the Lord with all your heart? God is always accessible to hear your prayers, accept your thanks, receive your praise and forgive your sins. God can be that old friend who you tell all of your secrets to but like your dearest of friends, it doesn’t happen overnight. God has done so much for us and He just asks for us get close to Him and to seek Him with all your heart.
Whether you say counselor, teacher, mentor or instructor they all mean the same for someone who is a supervisor/leader. You have a responsibility to develop the skills and knowledge your personnel. People want to progress in their positions and are generally interested in learning; regardless of their position. As a leader, people look to you for help with problems or seek your input as they try new things. Your responsibility is to help them problem solve; not solve their problems but help them work out a solution. It might be easier to simply do it but you will not allow them to learn; you must be the teacher or counselor.
Teaching requires great patience and a commitment to helping others achieve success. Think back to your favorite teacher/mentor, what made them great? Chances are good that they were: caring, interested in you, passionate about the subject, inspiring or willing to share their knowledge. Do you do that for your people? They will appreciate it and you’ll see benefits from improved morale, higher productivity, improved creativity and generally a problem free work place.
John 14:26 – “But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
The great counselor, called teacher by many was, of course, Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was telling everyone of “one greater than I” whom the Father would send to continue teaching and ultimately pay for our sins with His life. Despite the teachings of Jesus, people still remained doubtful. Even after his crucifixion and resurrection people remain doubtful.
Since the beginning of time, God has been teaching by using man as an instrument of delivery; a living power point presentation if you will. God has inspired men to do great things; Noah, Moses, John and Paul all did God’s work through His inspiration. God has put great teachers in our lives – some show us what to do while others show us what not to do. God has put you in a place to do great things so He can help others. Honor God by following Jesus’ example in your life, be the “teacher” for others to understand the hope that you have in Him.
Mentoring is a popular management concept that is sometimes connected to coaching or to today’s buzz-word – succession planning. The workforce can view “mentoring” as grooming for those fortunate to have been chosen to move up the career ladder. Mentoring is a relationship in which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally. The key feature here is that the person being guided wants to be guided – they ask for this type of personal attention. Most employees expect help from their leadership in the form of guidance, inspiration, encouragement, advancement, discipline and approval for a job well done. If they don’t get these, frustration sets in. Mentoring takes this to a higher level. Some organizations make it so formal that mentee’s have to apply to find a mentor. If you are interested in professional development you don’t need a formal system to get help. I’ve been advising people throughout the years to find a “confidant” or someone who they trust to help guide them. These confidants provide valuable feedback and offer suggestions to help navigate problems or challenges. I have been blessed to have great confidants and mentors and to be the same for others. Find a mentor or a confidant in your life and you will see that there is strength in numbers.
“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:11-12
Can you even imagine what it would be like to physically speak to Jesus everyday and ask for His advice? You can! Your prayers are heard by the Triune God, which means He hears them too. While you don’t hear Him respond back, you will get an answer. God sent us His Son to bring us closer to Him; now that’s a mentor! God provided His word to us through the scriptures and Jesus gave us examples of how to live our lives; someone to guide us both personally and professionally. This verse tells us He will lead us along straight paths, not stumbling and without impede. Another example of God’s promise to be with us. We stumble in sin, we forget to nurture our relationship with God and yet He keeps His promises. Our faith in Jesus is all that He needs to keep us along the straight paths. We don’t deserve that kind of dedication but God’s love is so great that we can’t imagine how He can forgive us. Sin is always present but more importantly, so is God’s love. Let Him guide you.
As leaders, we have the responsibility to give others strength – strength to get through difficult times, strength to accomplish move than they thought was possible and the strength to carry on everyday. A leader’s job is to inspire those around them, be a source of encouragement, a resource for guidance and a cheerleader for them as they go beyond their limits and try new things in their own personal growth. When your people speak of you, do they say “He’s always encouraging me, helping me figure things out and giving me opportunities to stretch myself”? I’ll never forget a very special leader I used to work for. She saw things in me that I never did. She was always there with a smile and a “good job!” when I completed something that I’d never done before. She’d tell me what she wanted and let me get it done, this sounds a lot like great delegation but it was always more than that, it was great mentorship.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
So, where do you get your strength? This passage reminds us to find our strength in God – “Him who gives me strength”. In our fast paced lives sometimes we forget that! We can do everything through Him because God is our strength, he is with us all day – everyday. Our privilege to lead is a gift from God; He has put us in this place at this time to achieve greatness. We too, have had a great mentor – Jesus Christ. He taught us to have compassion, patience and to be encouraging to those around us. You can be the source of strength for those you work with by being a positive role model. When people ask you “Where do you get the strength to lead from?” You can answer quite easily: God gives me the strength. In order to maintain your strength, like in any good workout routine, you need to work at it daily. We’ve all experienced a few days off from the gym; it gets harder to go back the longer you are away. Remain Strong!