Can I share a pet peeve with you?
When I am sitting at a red light, the light turns green, and almost immediately the car behind me sits down on their horn. In the rare case that I have Dale Earnhardt Jr in the car behind me, this would be rather cool and I would hurry. But most of the time it is just an impatient dude who has seen way too many Fast and Furious movies.
Simmer down Vin Diesel.
My response when this happens? I don't hurry like I am being encouraged to. I start driving very, very, very slowly. Not sure if this is the right thing to do, but man it sure does feel good!
From a leadership perspective, both me and my drag racing friend behind me are dead wrong in our approach. Why? Because leaders are good with people. Leaders take extra steps to do so. Leaders do not lash out in impatience. Leaders do not passively aggressively get even.
I have heard the idea recently that some leaders are just difficult personalities. That is a croc. The title of leader does not make one great. A solid leader, one who maturely understands the role, strives to be good with people.
With volunteer leaders at my church, we train them in this leadership trait: Be good with people. As a part of what we call Launch Class, designed to provide the foundational characteristics of a good leader, we issue this challenge.
Here are some practical ways we train volunteer leaders to be good with people. Live these qualities in your life and find yourself winning with people.
"In humility count others more significant than yourselves." - Philippians 2:4
Some people silently communicate "stay away" in their demeanor. Facial scowls, fake smiles, combative tones or being relationally difficult set a person apart as hard to approach.
Great leaders try to remain easy to approach. The higher you rise as a leader the more difficult it is for others to feel comfortable approaching you. Be careful not to add to that. One habit I slip into is walking very determined with a focused look on my face. My team has told me it communicates, "Get out of my way, I am too busy for you." This is not staying approachable as a leader.
“The Word became flesh...full of grace and truth.” - John 1:1
Jesus was the embodiment of grace and truth. He modeled how to address issues with both mercy and kindness, and honesty and truth. When you do, you build trust with those on your team. Lingering issues and artificial harmony are venom to your leadership. Strive to resolve issues with honesty and kindness.
Even in a church setting, there are times when we do not like everything that happens. Here is a framework of how to fight for trust in these moments: Send problems up and praise down. Fighting for trust is handing an issue up to leadership and reserving positive things to pass down to those under you. If problems are handed down instead of up you are not fighting for trust, you are proving yourself unworthy of trust.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine…” - Proverbs 17:22
Great leaders are attractive because they are at ease. Even when things are stressful, bring levity and joy to every situation. The best thing you can give your team is a "non-anxious presence." Do not over react, be super emotional or easily thrown by situations. Loosen up. Have fun.
We have a staff value stating no one can sit behind their desks with a frown on their face. You are a leader, act like one. Find some joy. Walk around with a smile on your face! Enjoy your life. Do fun things with friends and family, and you let your team members see it. I am not asking you to act as if life is not difficult. Life can be hard. But listen, you are a leader. Navigating hard moments is what you signed up for.
I want you to win with people. You will when you employ these tactics. Remain easy to approach, keep fighting for trust, have fun in life and keep winning with people!
Kevin is a coach for couragetolead.com. He is also Executive Pastor at Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia, and the founder of LeadBravely.org. Kevin specializes in strategic thinking, financial health and developing teams. He lives in Augusta, GA, with his wife, Melissa, and two daughters.