Updated: Jan 13, 2022
I wrote this in 2019 while deployed to Qatar based on my observation in the gym. It's long, but hopefully worth the read:
On two occasions while at the gym, I heard/seen a supervisor berate and belittle her staff. She basically told them they were not leaders and were dumb. My personal training session was even cut short for a staff meeting to further berate her employees. She was stifling their creativity and initiative by telling them they couldn’t do anything without her approval (even simple stuff like taking down old signs and putting up new ones) and then telling them they were lazy and didn’t do anything. One word came to mind, “Toxic”, and so did several thoughts about leadership. I’ll share my thoughts here:
1. Leaders aren’t always leaders or managers-sometimes they are simply “qualified” for a position on paper and call themselves that.
2. Leaders understand that to earn trust and loyalty, they must first show themselves trustworthy and loyal. They also understand these are earned and cannot be demanded.
3. Leaders make decisions scared, they are not scared to make decisions.
4. Leaders don’t let others make decisions for them so they can blame others when things don’t go right. Leaders share success and own failures.
5. Leaders lead from the front, they do not hide behind their followers.
6. Leaders understand that berating and demeaning someone doesn’t get someone to work harder for you; motivating and inspiring them to be great, does.
7. Leaders know that you’ll get better from a person who feels valued. Like John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Add value to increase value.
8. Leaders have to develop interpersonal skills. We are not cookie cutter humans, baked in the same womb, under the same circumstances, and our response to like situations cannot always be the same. What is good for the goose, will sometimes kill the gander. Get to know your people and adjust your leadership style where necessary.
9. People will walk right behind or very close to a good leader. If there is a big gap between a leader and their followers, maybe it’s time to slow down, reflect, do some introspection, and ask for an unbiased opinion on how to close the gap and where improvements can be made. No one has arrived, every leader can still learn.
10. Leaders know that learning is continual. To stay relevant, on top, and connected, you must continue to grow and develop yourself so you can continue to grow, develop, and mentor others.
11. You are not a leader if you have no followers. There is no team of one; you are just an independent consultant.
12. Leaders have to find balance. Where there is no balance, you have to “manage”. Most either choose work or family, but you can have both. Keep in mind, whichever you are not intentional about, will be left behind.
13. Finally, a good leader knows someone is always watching, ready to take their spot. Most good leaders are betrayed by someone closest to them. People ride with you until they think they can do better than you. Sometimes jealously is the motive, sometimes greed. They will wait for a moment of vulnerability and seize it to their advantage. What they haven’t done is learned your lessons, been through the fire, given up the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice that it took to build, so they are rarely successful for long.
Make sure you as a leader stay prayed up and have others who have discernment around you. Listen to wise counsel, trust your gut, look at things with an objective eye, and surround yourself with people who have your best interest in mind.
Sometimes you have to cut off those who have soured the seed-even though they have been with you from day one. Some tell-tale signs are:
1. Lack of production
2. Lack of new ideas
3. Lack of relevance
4. Refusal to teach and grow others
5. No new business month after month
6. Reduction in influence (committee attendance declining, lack of volunteerism, complaining, people leaving)
7. Refusal to get with the times. Sometimes tradition is good, but today is a great day to start a new one!
8. No transparency in processes
9. Hiding Information
10. Second guessing every decision you make that is not beneficial to them personally.
Don’t be blinded by loyalty alone. Sometimes people are there for a season and you know the season has ended when they are no longer bearing good fruit. Every tree needs to go through a pruning, whether on a schedule or as needed. Sometimes when we don’t take care of business, Mother Nature comes in and creates a storm that will cut off whole branches in one fell swoop. Either way, don’t give up, life begins again.
~ Kamille Stephanson Thomas