I was in a meeting recently where several people spoke on a vital issue. And though each person presented themselves as only looking out for the good of the whole, it was clear that there were hidden agendas, passive aggressive comments, ulterior motives, and even some stretching of the truth.
After the meeting I went up to a friend and asked how he thought the meeting went. His response was, “Everybody’s got an angle.” And you know what… he is right! We all have angles, agendas, motives and we have all stretched the truth to make our point at times. There is none righteous, no not one (to quote the Bible). This makes it difficult when a group has to make a decision. When all the cards aren’t on the table, the decision that comes out of the discussion has a good chance of being flawed.
Why are we like this? Why can’t we admit up front that we have something at stake in the discussion? And if we can’t admit that, why can’t we excuse ourselves from the process because of the potential conflict of interest? Part of the reason is that we don’t like to lose. We don’t like to lose a debate, an argument, a bet, a game, or anything else that involves winners and losers. But when we aren’t transparent and above boards about our agenda, we all lose. The final decision will not be based in reality, but rather on the version of reality that we all portray in the discussion.
Another reason we do this is we don’t want other people thinking bad thoughts about us. We have an image we portray, a reputation to keep. The thing is, I don’t know about you but I hold a person in higher esteem who is transparent about their angle, and honest about their motives.
There is no end to the material being written about leadership these days. One that I am looking forward to reading is The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick. Brad is in the unique position of being able to rub shoulders with the best and brightest Christian leaders in the world today through his work with The Catalyst Conference. Brad has become a great leader in the process. After I read the book, I’ll blog some of his principles.
But, for now I just want to state one of the most important leadership principles I know. I have the privilege of working around a lot of young adults and second chair leaders who want to be first chair leaders. Observing these potential leaders, I have decided on what I feel is a key beginning point for being a leader. Are you ready? Here it is: Show up… On time.
Let me explain. In a world where we are all connected to the hilt with electronic devices, there is no excuse for missing a meeting, or showing up late any more. Let me break this down into two parts.
SHOW UP. This is simple. If you say you will be somewhere, be there. I find a lot of young adults have a fluid sense of priorities with meetings. They will set a meeting, and then allow almost any reason get in the way of keeping that commitment. A commitment is a commitment. Here is why this is important: Leadership is based on trust. Trust is based on reliability. If you are reliable, I will begin to trust you. If you are not reliable I cannot trust you. If I can’t trust you, I won’t let you lead me. You want to be my leader – be reliable!
Occasionally we all need to cancel a meeting. That’s life. But if you have a reputation of blowing off meetings on a regular basis, don’t expect forgiveness over and over again. Expect a reputation for being unreliable instead.
BE ON TIME. My time is important to me. If I give you space on my calendar, I am choosing to give you priority over a bunch of other stuff I could be doing. Right now I am waiting on someone who wanted to meet with me to get my help. He is now 15 minutes late. “No big deal” you say. It is to me. What this says to me is that this person doesn’t respect my time. And this person wants my help in finding a job? So what am I supposed to say to the potential employer who calls for a reference on this person?
Showing up late to a meeting involving multiple people is in some ways even worse. By being late you are saying you don’t respect any of those people’s time. Do you want them to see you as a leader? But you don’t respect them. Fat chance!
This person is now 28 minutes late. He is only cheating himself at this point. I’ve got another meeting in 32 minutes. At least I used this wasted time to write a blog post.
Great book for young adults who grew up going to church – “Firsthand” by Ryan and Josh Shook. For video promos go here: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/firsthandvideos/.