HOW TO BE A PEOPLE-BUILDER IN YOUR LEADERSHIP
You can be a homebuilder, bodybuilder, reputation-builder, or a retirement-nest-egg-builder. None of those things will last, but there is something that’s going to last for eternity, something you can put your efforts into now that will last forever. You can be a people-builder.
How do you build your people? The key is kindness – giving people what they need, not what they deserve. Here are four things you can do as you encourage members of your team.
1. Give them a personal challenge: The bible says “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Don’t waste your life – make it count. Be all that God made you to be. Challenge your team members to live beyond themselves and to discover their strengths and abilities. God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.
The way your people will know what they are capable of doing with their lives is to look at their unique gifts. One of the hot markets today is Career Planning. Seminars are popping up everywhere, offering things like temperament analysis and competency tests. People are paying lots of money just to have others tell them what they’re good at. Why? Because we all need somebody who will help us discover our gifts and who will challenge us to develop, strengthen, and use them.
You can play a critical role in the lives of your team members by helping them discover their strengths and abilities, and then challenging them to use them. Tell them, if you do not use your God-given gifts, then the rest of us will miss out on the blessings you could bestow upon us.
2. Give them complete confidence: The bible says “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith.”
We all need confidence. When you know that someone believes in you, it brings out your best. Jesus did this with Peter. Peter’s name – “Petros” – meant pebble. But Jesus said, “Pebble, you’re going to be a rock. I’m giving you a new name.”
When Jesus said that to Peter, the apostle was anything but a rock. He was Mr. Impulsive, Mr. Foot-in-Mouth. But Jesus didn’t tell him what he was – He told him what he could be. He gave him confidence to live up to his potential.
We all need encouragement. Over the years, I’ve kept an Encouragement File. Every time anybody writes me a note, a card, or a letter, I file it. Even if it’s mildly encouraging – like “Better luck next time!” Or “You tried on that work, but good try!” – It still gets filed. Then, on days when I’m discouraged and down and tired, I get out the
Encouragement File, and I read through all the letters and cards that I’ve collected.
I read both of those letters over and over again. It’s encouraging to know that at some time in my life my sister and my wife thought I had some kind of value! Ha!
When you give encouragement, it needs to be genuine. So, give from the heart and with sincerity. Encouragement also needs to be regular – don’t be stingy with your encouragement.
And encouragement needs to be specific. Don’t say, “I enjoyed the meal,” rather say, “I can tell you put a lot of effort into this meal and the seasoning you chose was perfect.”
Don’t say, “You did a good job,” rather say, “I noticed you handled that angry member with tact and you maintained your cool under pressure.”
3. Give them honest counsel: The bible says “A friend means well even when he hurts you.” Real friends will care enough to confront. Even when it’s painful, they’ll tell you the truth. They won’t let you waste your life in silence.
I have found that correction is powerful – and it can be dangerous. Done the right way, it builds people up, but done the wrong way, it can scar a person for life.
The difference between the right and the wrong way to correct is your attitude. If all you’re doing is pointing out faults, then stop.
The purpose has to be to correct, not to condemn. You need to ask, “What’s my motive in this? Am I correcting them for my benefit or for their benefit?”
A lot of times we want to correct people just because they’re being jerks and they’re hassling us. We think, “If they would stop being such a jerk, my life would be easier.” That’s the wrong motive.
The bible says, “Speak the truth in love.” Love means giving people what they need rather than what they deserve. So the key to proper correction: Affirm the person; correct the behavior.
4. Give them full credit: I used to have a sign in my office: “God can do great things through the person who doesn’t care who gets the credit.”
How quickly do you share the credit? It’s human nature to want to share the blame while keeping the credit. But the perfect mark of maturity is to accept the blame and share the credit.
Now, there’s a price tag for being a people-builder. It requires unselfishness.
I want to give you an objective, and that is to be a people-builder for the rest of your life. Begin by writing down the name of one person you want to help build up, then stop and think. Try to find out that person’s strengths. We always build on our strengths, not on our weaknesses.
Write down whatever strengths you’ve seen in him or her in the past. Then tell him or her, “I’ve been thinking about you because I really care about you. I wanted to share with you from my viewpoint the strengths I see in your life because those strengths determine what we can do in our lives.”
Imagine the impact you could have if you would commit yourself to being a people-builder; if you determined to bring out the best in everyone within your society. That’s one of the purposes of leadership: to help people grow and to become what God made them to be.
Getting Over Today’s Success
In my office, I have a sign that says, “Yesterday ended last night.” It’s a great sign because it helps me keep our company’s success in perspective. When I want to celebrate because the previous day was a good day, I look at the sign and say, “Okay John that was yesterday. The party’s over. Go home, go to bed and get ready for another day.”
Life is not a snapshot. It would be wonderful if, at the pinnacle of your success, you could take a picture of it and assume nothing will ever change. But it will change, and if you don’t change with it, what got you there yesterday won’t keep you there in the future. Yesterday ended last night, remember? And–even more importantly–today’s success won’t sustain you tomorrow.
This can be tough to digest because when your business or job is going really well, the tendency is to sit back and say, “This is it. We’ve found the recipe for success–this is how it’s going to be from here on out.” Unfortunately, that kind of attitude doesn’t lead to growth; it only fosters stagnation.
As tempting as it is to rest on your laurels, you have to keep reinventing yourself and you have to keep reinventing your leadership. Ninety percent of our business profit margin today comes from work we were not doing six years ago. And when we look at our game plan for the next five years and the growth that we’re planning to have in our company, nothing in the next five years is determined on what we’re doing right now.
Let me put it this way: If what you did five years ago still satisfies you, you’re not doing anything worthwhile today. I look at material I produced five years ago and I want to apologize for it. You see, a sign of growth in your life is when what you did yesterday no longer thrills you; not because you’re bored, but because you’re growing.
In light of that, here are five ways to make sure today’s success doesn’t impede future accomplishment in your life.
1. Keep growing personally: Growth equals change. When you grow, you change. Notice that I did not say change equals growth. You can change without growing, but you cannot grow without changing.
2. Continually ask, “Is there a better way? When someone asks this question, the answer is always yes. There’s always a better way, a more efficient method, a more effective approach. You’re in deep trouble if you think you have the best way because there’s no such thing. There’s always a better way; and your search to be a little bit better or a little bit different will keep you in a continual growth spurt.
3. Pay for outside consulting: I learned a long time ago that if you really want to grow in leadership or in any business, you need to have a fresh set of eyes examining you from time to time. So hire an outside consultant who knows your leadership or business well to check out your organization and see what you’re too close to see.
4. Don’t protect the past: We all have a tendency to protect our past–the decisions we’ve made and the people we’ve hired. It’s easy to look at a team member who’s not performing well and think, “I really believe they’re about to get on track,” when in reality, they haven’t improved in seven years. The real effort comes when you have to say, “I made a bad decision in having them on our team, and it’s time for them to go.”
5. Build on your success–don’t sit on it: When your leadership or company applauds you, take a tape recorder and record it. Every now and then when you’re alone, turn it on and say, “There was a time…” Then turn the tape off and start growing. Start improving. Start disciplining yourself to get better. And keep people around you who are not impressed with you. The worst thing that happens with leaders is that they surround themselves with fans instead of building productive teams. You don’t need people to admire you. You need people to say, “I don’t think that was a good idea; we should have done this.” Those are the kind of people who will push you to grow. They won’t just let you sit there basking in the warmth of today’s success.”
Once you’ve gotten into the habit of doing these five things go ahead and celebrate the success you had today. Feel good about it. Enjoy it. But when tomorrow comes, get over it. Let it go. Don’t let today’s achievements stand in the way of future growth.
Did you know that you are personally responsible for your own leadership condition? You cannot blame your top leaders, teacher, or parent. God has placed a precious soul within you, and you must care for it with all priority. “In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them;”