In my last blog, I ended with the question, “How do we as leaders jump the hurdle of our ‘willed loneliness’ to be ‘fully and healthily engaged’ with those we lead in order to serve them?” I want to try and answer that question in this blog post.
Our natural tendency as humans is to care for and to protect ourselves and those we love. Life’s hurts and disappointments may also drive us to guard our hearts from close relationships with others. However, if leadership is built on relationship but the leader has sequestered his or her heart away from others, how can he or she be a fully engaged leader?
Before we answer the question at hand, let me add that personality traits can also be a hurdle leaders must clear to be in authentic relationship with those they serve. I’m an INTJ in the Myers-Briggs® personality type indicator, a D/C in the DiSC® personality profile, and a “3” in the Enneagram type descriptions. (Can anyone be more tested for who they are?) Clearly, I’m not your life-of-the-party guy, but I get things done—too often on my own. Relationship is a learned behavior.
Reflect: What does your life map look like? How has life’s experiences affected the openness of your heart? What are your personality tendencies? Do they lean toward being fully engaged or away from those kinds of relationships?
How do you clear the hurdles of ‘willed loneliness’ and personality tendencies to be fully engaged with those you lead and serve?
Your personality and past are givens but not drivers in your relationships. Our natural tendencies and histories can become bridges—not barriers—into the lives of others. Maturity is marked by an honest awareness of how we are created by God and molded by life experiences. Our shared life experiences and personality tendencies can be touch points for meaningful relationships and full engagement by a leader. Know who you are before God and others and leverage that understanding to empathize with and to serve others where they are in their stories.
Instead of ‘willed loneliness’ what about ‘willed relationship?’ Why not use your will to be fully engaged rather than distance yourself from those God has put in your care? To will yourself to stop typing an email and to get up and walk to a person’s office to talk face-to-face is a path to be engaged with those you serve. Willed relationship established on authenticity and integrity can help you become fully engaged with those who lead and serve.
Time and consistency are the keys. To be fully engaged requires time and consistency. Relationships are molded in the crucibles of conversation and shared experiences over a period of time. Micorwaved time is for your frozen lunch, not for building relationships. Consistency builds trust and signals to others you are not engaging them because they graded you negatively on your last 360-degree review. Showing up as who you are and dealing with the person’s true concerns over time will result in authentic relationships in which you can lead and serve.
What are your takeaways from these ideas and suggestions? What one thing can you do today to be fully engaged with those you lead and serve? Leave your comments below.
Next blog I want to talk about the importance of character as a leader. I can’t think of a better topic for leaders in the current cultural environment we find ourselves.