Leadership Isn’t a 9-5 Job

LegoLeaderLeadership is not a 9-5 job, nor is it an 8-5 job if you take a lunch nor even a 7-6 job if you give a little extra. I know what you’re probably thinking, “of course it isn’t just 8-5, you should bet to work early, stay late, and be willing to work harder so your team doesn’t have to!” I tell you, that you are absolutely correct, and I agree with you 100%. A local business man, who is very well known here in Oklahoma City, is quoted as saying, “I work five to eight, so you only have to work eight to five.” What a remarkable showing of leadership. His car was always there, even on the weekends. That man put an insane amount of hours into his companies. Perhaps that is why he was able to build two different multi-billion dollar companies and end up with a net worth of almost $1.2 billion himself, but there is more to it than that.

During your time at work, you, as a leader (by title or not), are constantly doing what you can to help your team succeed. You never ask you team for thanks, you give them all of the credit and shoulder all of the issues. It can be a thankless job but is very rewarding to see others grow in their profession. There is still more to it, though.

My point with this post, however, actually has nothing to do with all of that. Remember, I started out by saying leadership was not an 8-5 job. What I meant, is that as a leader, you really never get a break. What happens when you go home? Guess what? You are expected to be a leader there too. All too often, however, I witness guys going home and putting away all of their servant leadership qualities for . . . wait for it . . . the micro-manager. Constantly getting on our kids for things not being done right, or even being a bit impatient.

AH – NO – DON’T. DO. IT!

What is worse, is that a lot of times, we as parents, find ourselves saying things like, “I just wish they would be more grateful for what I have done for them,” or, “I wish they could be content for what I have provided to them.”

So, let me get this straight. At work, you are patient with your team and do what you can to help them. You give them space do learn, or even fail (which is also learning). You work side by side with them, in the trenches, together, with a common goal. You never expect as much as a “thank you” as you feel that their success is thanks enough. When you go home, however, you bark at your kids, hovering over them at every moment to make sure they are coloring in the lines. When you do something nice, you expect them to be grateful to you.

Please allow me to get a little personal with you for a minute. As I re-read my words above, I can’t help but think, “guilty as charged!” You see, the “you” above, is also me. I wrote this because sometimes I see things in myself that I don’t like. As my children enter into their teenage years, their lives and attitudes can become more and more challenging. This calls for all of the servant leadership skills we can mettle. They need us now more than ever. You see, we should be patient with our kids as they grow. We should help shape them by our example and guidance rather than our instructions and negative feedback. What’s more, and this was probably my “gotcha” moment, is that we have a strong desire for our kids to be grateful to us for everything we do for them. As I was contemplating this post, I became convinced that I am not the right person my kids need show gratefulness to. I certainly don’t want them to be ungrateful, but they should not be grateful, necessarily, to me. As a Christian, I am called to raise my kids to be children of God. This means I want them to be grateful to God, who is our provider. I am merely acting as His hands to give them what He essentially provided to me to be a steward of in the first place. I don’t expect my employees to be grateful to me, why should I expect my children to be? Am I wanting to raise a bunch of booty smoochers? No, but that is what it amounts to when we expect them to be “oh so grateful” to us. They should not be smooching my booty or anyone else’s. If we teach them that, they will never be strong enough to be leaders themselves. Please don’t get me wrong, they need to be thankful and grateful for what they have. If they aren’t, they may not understand the value of the things they are given and could even be seen or labeled as spoiled brats, even as adults. Instead, I want my kids to be grateful to the One who really provides. Let them be thankful to God.

I encourage you, as leaders, moms and dads, to evaluate your thinking and your attitudes when you go home. Be honest with yourself and ask if anything needs to change. It’s okay to be less than perfect. It’s okay to make adjustments at half-time and come back out a better team. Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we will catch excellence.” If we strive to be perfect parents, we will never get there, but will end up being excellent parents in the mean-time and that’s not so bad, is it? Perhaps this is one way you can strive for perfection. Show your kids the leadership you show  your team. After all, your kids are on your team, right? Guide them, don’t just instruct them. Nurture them by allowing them to experiment and fail, and become their own people. Get in the trenches with them and do and learn things together. It will help make them better people, and who knows, it might make you an even better leader as you strive for perfection!

What are some areas that you’ve struggled with as a leader or as a parent? I’d love to get your feedback.

Thanks for reading and happy leading!

Goal Setting: 2012

Every year after January 1st, articles pop up on setting goals. Some call it making a new year’s resolution. Whatever you call it, it really is setting goals. This year, of course, is no different. Up until now, I have personally resisted the urges to set out to create a goal or resolution that I won’t stick to. Then, I realized perhaps this is a toxic attitude to have. I asked myself recently what I’ve accomplished by not just setting the bar low, but not setting it at all. Well, the answer is quite simple . . . hardly anything. It is time I stepped up to the plate and set some goals for myself – and you should too! Here are my thoughts:

I look at my goal setting as I would my employees:

  • Relevant
  • Attainable
  • Measurable
  • Controllable (this one is big)

This gets a way from the typical “S.M.A.R.T.” goal setting principles (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) just a bit but has the same basic principle without the cool acronym. I want to make sure that every goal I set follows these four principles, not only for me, but for my employees for the upcoming year. What do they mean?

Relevant: From a managerial standpoint it must fit with the over-all goals of the department, division, and company as a whole. From a personal standpoint, it has to be pertinent to what I’m doing or what I want to accomplish. “Make a one foot diameter rubber-band ball” is not relevant to other, somewhat life altering, goals that I may have, unless I’m shooting for a personal record.

Attainable: Is this goal something that can actually be done in the timeframe given? “Become a rocket scientist” is not an attainable goal for most people in one year’s time. “Learn Java”, however, is.

Measurable: One thing you have to keep in mind is whether or not you can actually track your progress on accomplishing the goal.

Controllable: This is one I’ve heard a lot about lately in setting up tasks for me and my employees alike. I look at my goal and determine if it is something that can be controlled. For example, “get 100 followers” is not something I can control. Sure, I can try to analyze the topics that get more hits than others, but in the end, you have control over that better than I do.

All in all, goal setting really is a big deal, unless you do not want to accomplish anything. It sets the tone for your year and gives you something to work for. If you fail, try again. Be sure to challenge yourself so you can grow.

I hope your new year is happy an prosperous. Happy goal setting!!